I hate earthquakes with a passion. They are unlike any other disaster in that they come without warning, and make what should be solid ground betray us. The only thing we can do is be ready for them, and that takes some thought and time. Whenever we experience a small shaker, it’s a good time to review our preparations. Here is an overview of how you can be more prepared:

Earthquake Kit

Food and Drink: Your kit should have shelf stable food and beverages, including a gallon of water per person per day. Make sure that what’s in the kit are things you will be willing to eat. You’re going to have enough other problems, eating food that tastes bad to you doesn’t need to be one.

When selecting the food and drinks, put some treats in there. Soda for the kids (or you), candy, etc. You can take a lot of stress off yourself by having a little comfort food around. Dry or shelf stable milk will be needed for the children, and don’t forget to include food for any pets you may have.radio strap

Medications: Prescription and over the counter medications should be in your kit. I also include some basic herbal preparations, in case they are needed. Ask your doctor and pharmacist how often to change out the prescriptions so they don’t expire. One method of doing this is to take out the old prescription when you refill and place the newly refilled one in your kit.

First Aid: Injuries are common when dealing with a shaker. Cuts, bruises and broken bones are all possible, and if the quake was bad enough, medical help may be a long time in coming. Knowing what to do and having the supplies on hand are a sensible approach to your preparations.

You can buy kits that come with everything you might need, but there are a few things you can make to add that will save you some money. As an example, you can make splints with duct tape and rolled up newspapers. Simply tape the roll so it stays in place, then if needed you can tie or tape the splints on a suspected broken bone.

One item that should be in every kit is a first aid manual. Even if you have had training, it’s a good addition to your kit. It’s easy to forget something in an emergency, and having it a reference will be useful. Also, it could be you that requires the aid. While it’s a good idea for everyone to have at least some training, not everyone does.

Have a Plan: Sit down with your family and come up with a plan. Write down all the questions that you think will need answering, such as who will pick up the kids from school, who will turn off which utilities, etc. Give everyone a job, even small children. This is not because you will need the extra hands, though they may be useful. It’s to give everyone a sense that they are helping make the situation better.

When making the plan, you may need to do a little research. This is especially true if you have children in school. Find out what the procedures are should a quake happen during school hours, and what the procedures for picking them up is. Some schools will release students only to people on a special list.

Utilities: There are some important things to know about your utilities after a quake. Make sure everyone knows how to turn off the gas at the meter and have a tool near it ready to be used. Teach them to only turn it off if they smell gas, as it takes a utility service person to turn it back on.

Immediately turn the water off. If there is a break in the lines somewhere, this will prevent contaminants from entering your home and contaminating the water inside. Once it has been cleared, you can easily turn it on. You should also turn off the electricity until you make sure there are no breaks that could spark a fire.

Strap it Down: Large pieces of furniture, pictures and your water heater should be strapped down, preferably to a stud. The water heater represents thirty to fifty gallons of clean, potable water, but only if it s still standing. You can get earthquake putty to secure smaller items to the furniture or shelves.

Light it Up: Keep flashlights or other emergency lights in every room. Put one in each bedside table. Keep battery powered lanterns in your kit, as there is likely to be no power.

Keep Informed: You need to have some means of hearing and/or seeing what is going on, what to watch out for and so on. A battery operated radio or television is a good idea. Make sure you have extra batteries as well.