Use this earthquake kit list to build your own DIY earthquake survival kit. Make your own earthquake kit without spending a fortune on more gear.
Earthquakes are disastrous events on a large scale that can hit without any real warning. An earthquake kit list can help you build your own earthquake preparedness kit for the “Big One” we keep hearing about as well as “normal” earthquakes too.
If your home or work is in a known earthquake zone it’s a good idea to at least have a backpack handy with a basic earthquake survival kit inside. An earthquake kit list like ours with a few simple items is cheap to put together and it’s easy to find the recommended gear.
As with all things preparedness, it’s better to prepare for the event long in advance, so needless to say you should make your own earthquake kit before it’s needed, so use our earthquake survival kit checklist below to build your own homemade earthquake kit.
There’s no such thing as the “best earthquake kit” because every area (big city or suburbs or country) and every individual person or family has it’s own unique needs.
A simple DIY earthquake kit built with your needs in mind and stashed somewhere that’s easy to get to is all you need, ignore the expensive pre-made earthquake kits you see online.
So then, the question is, what to put in an earthquake kit?
A Very Simple Earthquake Kit List
The goal of this earthquake kit list is to be simple, cheap to build, lightweight, and effective at keeping your butt safe and providing some basics for the days after.
Remember… help could take days to reach you after an earthquake, be prepared to take care of yourself and get out of the area asap.
Depending on the size earthquake you’re preparing for, and how often they occur in your area, your kit will vary. So, I’ve divided this list into two simple phases. Pick the phase that best fits your needs and budget and go from there.
I assume you will be lucky enough to grab your cell phone since most people never walk more than a few feet away from their smartphone without having a panic attack nowadays. If not you’ll still have everything you need to survive in this emergency earthquake kit, but communications with help or family will be harder.
You also have to consider three things after an earthquake:
- You cannot count on having a vehicle, it could be trapped in debris and the roads could be flooded or full of debris. A good reason to own a motorcycle or bike.
- You could be trapped for days with literally a building of debris over your head.
- There may be major flooding, fires, and gas leaks along with serious aftershocks.
There’s more to consider too, like the weather, where you live, your need for daily prescription medications, and how physical fit you are.
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So with all that in mind, lets create an earthquake kit list.
Phase 1 – the basics
- A backpack to store everything. One that’s high quality, tear resistant, and water resistant is preferred. Your emergency earthquake kit should be portable because hopefully you’ll be moving around a lot, so a duffel or gym bag isn’t a good idea. You may even want a hiking backpack if you plan to walk a long distance.
- A first aid kit. You can build your own homemade first aid kit to save money or buy something pre-made to save time, or you could make a special earthquake first aid kit that would have a suture kit and go heavy on things like antibacterial ointments, gauze pads, and regular and inflatable splints to deal with crushing injuries, broken bones, and deep cuts as best you could.
- A flashlight, preferable a small LED with a metal case. If you live in a city (or suburbs with natural gas) there will be gas leaks so consider a intrinsically safe flashlight, meaning it is certified safe to use around gas and won’t cause an explosion.
- An emergency whistle. You can only yell for so long but as long as you’re still conscious and breathing you can blow a whistle, and a whistle carries a longer distance than yelling.
- Thick and heavy work gloves, leather is best.
- Thick soled work boots. Imagine putting a house in a giant blender. Now imagine pouring it out on the street and walking on it. Flip-flops aren’t going to cut it.
- A change of clothes that fits the season.
- A lightweight poncho and/or raincoat.
- Petty cash in $5-$20 bills. The more the better, especially if you want to rent a hotel or pay for a cab once you’re out of the worst areas.
- Water, and lots of it. As much as you can pack and carry.
Phase 1 is a bare minimum earthquake kit checklist and includes things you should have set aside in case of any natural disaster. If you really want to be prepared, you should move into phase 2:
Phase 2 – everything from phase 1 plus…
- Motorcycle or bicycle helmet. The biggest danger of an earthquake isn’t a fissure full of lava swallowing you up like some portal straight to hell, it’s your stupid bowling ball falling off the shelf and straight on to your head. The same goes for roofs, having a helmet to protect your skull from falling trusses will give you a HUGE edge statistically speaking.
- Backup charger for your cell phone. A solar cell phone charger or, even better, an emergency radio with a built in charger could mean the difference between calling for help if you’re trapped or getting in touch with family.
- Emergency radio. Like I said above it should have a charging USB port, and it should be able to keep you updated on what’s going on. In an emergency, cell reception may be impossible or the system may be flooded so you need another way to know what’s going on.
- Emergency food bars. Three days worth of food is lightweight and only about $13. If you’re trapped you’ll have food to keep your core temperature and spirits up. Even if you’re not trapped you may not have a way to get food for a couple of days, especially if the roads are blocked.
Food bars are slightly better than MRE’s in the aftermath of an earthquake for one main reason: they are easier to prepare. You just open the pack and chew. If you’re pinned down this could matter. An MRE may need a fork or have packs inside of packs that need to be opened or mixed. It’s a thought worth considering.
Speaking of injuries, if you have any abdominal injuries, like a house laying on your gut for instance, you shouldn’t eat anything because you may have major internal problems and eating can make things much worse.
- A water filter for any found water (remember that your hot water heater and the backs of toilets can be good sources of potable water).
- A high quality multi-purpose knife (something like a leatherman) and the tools it comes with are more important than a fixed blade knife after an earthquake.
- A flat prybar. I like to have a small and a large prybar because one more pound of weight isn’t that big of a deal but getting in and out of doors or busting through a wall is a big deal.
- A fire starter kit because you may need light, warmth, or a way to cook without the grid for days afterwards. NOTE: remember, gas leaks + fire = bad… so make 1000% sure there are no leaks before you make a single spark.
- A couple of mylar emergency blankets to reflect your body heat back at you, great for laying on. Plus the things are so dang loud you might attract an entire emergency crew.
- A thick wool blanket for serious warmth.
- if you work or live in a multi-story building get a map of the layout laminated.
With a Phase 2 earthquake emergency kit packed and ready, out of the way but easy to get to, in a closet or corner of your bedroom you’ll be ready for a major earthquake (or a tornado, or hurricane too).
So you’ve made it through the initial earthquake. You’re alive, and hopefully not trapped. Now you need to think about the circumstances that you’ll be stuck in after an earthquake.
The water and power are almost certainly out, stores are definitely closed, streets may be blocked, your car could be totaled under your garage. With those things in mind, you need to be prepared to travel on foot to the nearest relief center or to family outside of the affected area. Hotels for many miles will be full, you can try to get in but good luck.
With a charged cell phone you may be able to call for a cab once you get to open roads, but there’s no guarantee what the roads look like elsewhere. They may not be able to get to you or get to where you want to go, if the drivers are even willing to come into work at all. Be prepared to hike.
You should learn where relief centers would most likely be setup in your town, along with their emergency routes and the local emergency channels for tv and radio.
What To Leave Out Of Your Earthquake Survival Kit
The last thing you want is an earthquake kit so heavy that you can’t carry it, so keep it light. You don’t have to pack a whole house.
Your earthquake disaster kit should be portable (i.e. in a backpack or hiking backpack) and if you have a family member who would be with you and is able to carry something, you should consider splitting your earthquake supplies between two bags.
Put the absolute necessities into one bag and make sure you know which. Then, in the event of an earthquake, if you have someone to carry the other bag that holds the less-needed items (sorry grandma), you can divide the weight and move quicker.
If you only have enough hands for one bag, pack accordingly. You should focus on the absolute necessities that you will need for your own survival, that is: water, first aid, a way to communicate with others, and a change of clothes.
Now it’s time for me to destroy all of your faith in humanity. There are many helpful people in this world and generally the best comes out of people during an emergency. But a certain percentage of the population have a different plan in mind.
It never fails, no matter how small the disaster some people will take this opportunity to loot, or worse. It’s not uncommon for these people to steal right from a destroyed house or even directly from an injured or dying person in the aftermath of an earthquake or other disaster.
For this reason you should consider adding a weapon to your earthquake emergency kit checklist. I don’t believe it’s time to drag around an AR in plain sight because of the amount of emergency personnel you may encounter, and the relief center isn’t going to take too kindly to it either. A pistol however can get the job done just as well for the threats you might face after an earthquake. It’s also much easier to conceal.
Storing Your Bag
In case I haven’t harped on it enough, you should store your bag somewhere that’s easy to get to, and in a place that you’ll remember in the panic of an emergency. Your fancy emergency earthquake kit won’t do you a bit of good if it’s buried under your house.
However you won’t necessarily be home when the earthquake hits. For that reason, you should ideally keep a similar kit in your car and consider having a W.E.B. (Work Emergency Bag) at your office. This is especially true if you work in the city.
You may even be able to keep a small kit at your work desk. These kits should contain enough to help you get home or reach a relief center.
Take Your Location Into Account
If you live in a city or highly populated area, relief centers will quickly be set up and roads will be cleared as a first priority. There will also be hundreds of other people and buildings nearby to assist you.
However, if you live in the suburbs or country you’ll have to go it alone until rescue finds you. If that’s your case, alter the list accordingly to include more long term supplies like food and water, and make sure you include a good radio or possibly a CB or ham radio if you want to go through the licensing procedure.
Also, keep your climate in mind. This list assumes the best: that the earthquake hits when it’s nice out. What if it’s pouring rain? What if it’s in the middle of winter? If applicable, you should prepare for cold, stormy weather as you see fit.
Depending on your location and how soon you believe rescue would find you, you may want to seriously consider a long-term survival plan and prep for several days or even weeks on your own and possibly injured. If that’s the case, pack things like:
- Emergency food supply (dehydrated or freeze dried)
- Plenty of water
- A way to filter water
- Fire starting kit
- Extra batteries for flashlights
You’re not trying to live like a king, just the bare minimums. When choosing a food supply, keep in mind that dehydrated food will likely need to be rehydrated with water and that water will have to be potable. Having tasty (or at least tolerable) food packed will help raise your spirits and keep you alert.
You can never be too prepared, especially when it comes to natural disasters like earthquakes. The devastation can take days or weeks for rescue to arrive and years to fully repair. Planning and preparing now can help save your life (or your family’s, or your neighbors).
Once you have your emergency bag packed, do go raiding it until it’s needed. Using your emergency supply when you’re too lazy to shop is a bad idea, especially if you don’t replenish these supplies in time.
Your earthquake safety kit should only be used for emergencies. Make sure to rotate specific items, like plastic water bottles and food, as needed to keep them fresh.