Emergency Supplies Essential to Survive Any Disaster
What you have on hand for emergency supplies can and will most likely save your life when a major disaster hits. As you go through each day knowing that something terrible could happen, why not have them on hand?
How to Survive a Natural Disaster
Natural disasters can strike seemingly anytime and often with little warning. Learn what the most dangerous natural disasters are and tips for preparing and surviving any that strike.
An earthquake can strike unexpectedly. The bed shakes a bit at first. An item or two falls over on your
bookcase. And then things start to rumble, really shake. Everything around you -- your TV, your bookcase, everything
that can be moved -- is now your enemy. The ceiling can fall.
(Video Footage: MEGAQUAKE - Hour that Shook Japan)
If you're outside on the road, the road can buckle, crack, and swallow you hole.
A bridge can collapse, you and hundreds of other cars falling to the cold water below, far from shore,
far from any hope of immediate rescue...
There are very few disasters as unpredictable as an earthquake. The good
news is that if you're well-prepared, you and those you care for can
usually come out unhurt. SecretsofSurvival.com reveals how to prepare for and be ready
for an earthquake: What survival supplies to have on hand and how to escape quake damage
once shaking gets violent.
Q: What Exactly is an Earthquake?
A: It took the world a long time to get this one right.
In the 4th Century BC, Aristotle proposed that earthquakes were
caused by winds trapped in subterranean caves.
A later theory stated that earthquakes occurred in calm, cloudy
conditions, and were usually preceded by strong winds, fireballs, and
meteors. However, there is no immediate connection between weather and
quakes. They are instead the result of geologic processes within the
earth and can happen in any weather and at any time during the year.
Earthquakes, originating miles underground, are 1.) a part of global
tectonics, a process that often changes the elevation of the land and
its morphology; 2.) the result of volcanic activity, such as the quakes
that shook Washington state weeks before Mount Saint Helens' volcano
erupted in 1980; 3.) induced by Man.
The earth is not really one solid mass, but is in fact made up of
several immense plates that are always pushing against one another. It's
a bit like being on a crowded subway; the plates making up the earth are
so tightly pushed together that there is always a struggle for room.
Eventually, this pressure becomes so great between certain plates that
they finally move, violently shifting their position. That is a tectonic
earthquake. These constant struggles and shiftings of the earth are
global tectonics. These are usually the most devastating of all quakes.
Tectonics can cause inland areas to become coastal or vice versa.
During 1811-1812, the region around New Madrid, Missouri experienced
three tectonic quakes so massive they rerouted the mighty Mississippi
River and were felt up to 1000 miles away.
Earthquakes can occur in an area before, during, and after a volcanic
eruption, and are the result of active forces connected with the
eruption, but are not the cause of the volcanic activity itself.
Man-induced earthquakes are often caused by such things as the
deep-sea drilling that has occurred in recent years. Such activity deep
into the earth can sometimes increase pressure on the plates, making a
tense situation much worse.
Q: During an earthquake, are you really most safe under a doorway
A: You should only have to head for the doorway if you live in an
old, un-reinforced adobe house. In modern homes doorways are probably no
stronger than any other parts of the house, and could have doors that
will swing and injure you during a quake. You are probably safer
practicing the 'drop, cover and hold' method under a sturdy piece
The American Red Cross came up with the drop, cover and hold
method. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, protect your eyes by pressing
your face against your arm and hold on. Teach children the method as
well, and practice with your family at least twice a year.
If however you feel safer under the doorway, it's still certainly a
Q: Can scientists predict earthquakes?
A: No. Scientists have never predicted a major earthquake. They do
not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the
However, probabilities can be calculated for potential future
earthquakes. For example, scientists estimate that over the next 30
years there's a 67% probability of a major earthquake occurring in the
San Francisco Bay area. Scientists often focus their efforts on the
long-term mitigation of earthquake hazards by helping to improve the
safety of structures rather than creating short-term predictions.
Q: Can the ground open up during an earthquake?
A: Shallow crevasses can form during earthquake-induced landslides,
lateral spreads, or other types of ground failures. But faults do not
open up during an earthquake. Movement occurs along the plane of a
fault, not perpendicular to it. If faults opened up, no earthquake would
occur because there would be no friction to lock them together.
Q: Can animals predict earthquakes?
A: Changes in animal behavior before earthquakes have been observed
and documented in different parts of the world, most recently in the
northern California earthquake of October 17, 1989. It has been recorded
that a fish in a high school biology lab in California would flip on its
side before some earthquakes. Dogs, cats, snakes, and horses have also
been known to behave strangely before earthquakes.
But it's possible the change in animal behavior may be caused by
other events. Also, the behavior is not consistent; sometimes
earthquakes occur with no previous behavioral change.
Q: Can some people sense that an earthquake is about to
A: There is currently no scientific explanation for the symptoms some
people claim to have preceding an earthquake. However, often there is no
recorded earthquake following the apparent symptoms of these
Q: Will California eventually fall off into the ocean?
A: No. The San Andreas Fault System, which crosses California from
the Salton Sea in the south to Cape Mendocino in the north, is the
boundary between the Pacific Plate and North American Plate. The Pacific
Plate is moving in northwest with respect to the great North American
Plate at approximately 46 millimeters per year (the same rate,
incidentally, as your fingernail growth). The earthquakes on the San
Andreas Fault are a result of this plate motion.
The plates are moving horizontally past one another, so California is
not going to fall into the ocean. However, Los Angeles and San Francisco
will one day be adjacent to one another!
Q: Can the position of the moon or the planets affect
A: The moon, sun, and other planets have an influence on the earth in
the form of perturbations to the gravitational field. However, no
significant correlations have been identified between the rate of
earthquake occurrence and the tide change when using large earthquake
There have, however, been some small but significant correlations
reported by the University of California at Berkeley between tide change
and the rate of occurrence of aftershocks in some volcanic regions.
Q: Do earthquakes cause volcanoes?
A: No, there are different earth processes responsible for volcanoes.
Protection Against the Unseen
Perhaps an earthquake's greatest danger lie in the fact that it can
occur almost at once. If you live in a location that's prone to
earthquakes, preparation before the event is certainly key.
To paraphrase the American Red Cross: 'It's not the shaking that
hurts. It's the stuff that falls on your head'. Collapsing walls, flying
glass and falling objects cause most quake-related injuries and deaths.
Look around your house for things that could fall or move. Ask
yourself what may happen if your cupboard doors fly open during a quake,
allowing dishes or God-knows-what to fall across the floor. Is the TV
and stereo fastened down and are shelves fastened to walls? Do you have
hanging plants or light fixtures that might fall? Is there a heavy
picture or mirror on the wall over your bed?
Know the danger spots. Secure all tall and heavy furniture that could
topple over, such as bookcases, china cabinets or wall units. Hang heavy
pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
Keep breakables or heavy objects on bottom shelves.
Stay clear of windows, fireplaces, or appliances if a quake hits;
stay out of the kitchen - it's a dangerous place. In short, stay away
from anything that could conceivably fall on you. Don't run downstairs
or rush outside while the building is shaking, or while there is a
danger of falling or being hit by falling glass or debris.
Secure a water heater by strapping it to wall studs and bolting it to
Before and after a quake, repair any deep cracks in ceilings,
chimneys, or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of
structural defects. Unnoticed damage could cause a fire - or worse.
Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These
are potential fire risks.
Make sure you have a properly installed and working smoke detector in
Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in
closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
Keep food and water supplies on hand. You should be prepared to take
care of yourself and loved ones for a period of 72 hours. This is how
long it is estimated for help to arrive, as they have to deal with the
same predicaments as you.
Create a family disaster plan. Discuss with your family the types of
disasters that could occur. Explain to your kids how to prepare and
respond to each type of disaster. Print the plan for everyone.
Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone. Teach children how
and when to call 911, police, fire department, and which radio station
to tune to for emergency information.
Learn first aid and CPR. Contact your local American Red Cross
chapter for information and training.
Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity,
Learn how to help kids cope with disaster.
Define Your Safety Zone: against inside walls, under sturdy tables
or desks, in stout doorways.
Practice earthquake drills, putting yourself in the Safety Zone. This
is especially important for children to know and do.
Have two places where everyone can meet. One will be your home, but
you should have a second in case there's a problem. It should be a safe
distance from your house in case of a home fire, and a place outside
your neighborhood in case you can't immediately return.
Choose an out-of-state friend as a check-in contact for everyone to
Discuss where to go and what to bring if advised to evacuate.
Practice what you have discussed.
Find out about earthquake plans developed by your children's school
or day care. Remember, transportation may be disrupted.
Keep some emergency supplies - food, liquids, and comfortable shoes,
for example - at work.
Locate your nearest fire and police stations and emergency medical
Talk to your neighbors - how could they help you, or you them after
Also, be prepared for aftershocks. They are strong enough to topple
more buildings, sever utility lines and hurt you hours, days, weeks -
even months after the main quake. If your house is in solid shape, stay
indoors if an aftershock hits.
The greatest precaution? Develop the habit of thinking, "If an
earthquake happened right now, what would I do?" This will prepare you
to react and not be surprised when it happens. And it will aid with your
Earthquake Disaster Supply Kit
Admit it: You probably stuck a couple of jugs of water, a few cans
of pork-n-beans, a box of Band- Aids and a soggy, 6-year- old road flare
in your closet.
Time to get real.
The Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) are right. They, and local fire departments, recommend you
self-equip with everything on their list. You don't want to fight the
crowd at Home Depot - unless that's your idea of fun.
The kit, kept in a durable container such as the Rubbermaid
Roughtote, should include:
WATER - Plan on using one gallon of water per person per day. Store
three gallons of water for each person and pet (72 hours worth). Also,
pack purification tablets or chlorine bleach to purify drinking water
from other sources. Emergency water may be obtained from water heaters,
melted ice cubes, toilet tanks (the back part of toilets where the
mechanism is located), and canned vegetables.
Avoid drinking water from swimming pools or especially spas - it may
have too many chemicals in it to be safe.
FOOD - Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. It's
best to have enough canned and dried foods sufficient for a week for
each member of your household. Note: both water and food stores should
be replaced every so often to maintain freshness. Canned goods have a
normal shelf-life of one year for maximum freshness.
FIRST AID KIT AND HANDBOOK - Have two copies of each, one for your
home and one for your car.
TOOLS - Vital stuff you won't miss until you realize it's
unobtainable. Your emergency tools should consist of:
*Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water pipes.
*Flashlights with extra bulbs and batteries. Also battery-operated
lanterns for the evening hours.
*Portable radio with extra batteries.
*Non-electric, hand-held can opener. Also, a bottle opener and
non-breakable eating and drinking utensils.
*Extra food for pets if necessary.
*Camp stove or barbecue to cook outdoors (store fuel out of the reach
of children). This will be a portable stove using butane or charcoal.
Note: Use of such stoves should not take place until it is determined
that there is no gas leak in the area. Also, charcoal should only be
burned outdoors; use of charcoal indoors will lead to carbon monoxide
*Waterproof, heavy-duty plastic bags, a shovel and toilet paper.
Also, bring disinfectant and hand sanitizer. Sewer lines may have been
disrupted during the earthquake.
*Nylon rope and duct tape.
*Portable fire escape ladder for homes/apartments with multiple
*Telephone numbers of police, fire, and doctor. Also, make sure you
have access to a phone.
*A small amount of money.
CLOTHING & BEDDING - If the disaster's bad enough, all the hotels
will be full. That means your car's back seat becomes your bedroom.
Pack protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags in your
kit, as well as extra blankets and heavy clothing, including
rubber-soled shoes and work gloves.
MEDICINE AND SPECIAL ITEMS - Keep adequate supplies for babies, the
elderly or disabled and others with special needs.
COPIES of important papers should be kept in a fireproof container or
a safe deposit box with a key you always carry.
During the Earthquake
If you are indoors, stay there! Get under a heavy desk or
table and hang on to it, move into a hallway or get against an inside
If you are outside, get into the open - away from buildings, power
lines, chimneys, and anything else that might fall on you. If you are
driving, quickly but carefully move your car as far out of traffic as
possible and stop. Do not stop on or under a bridge or overpass
or under trees, light posts, power lines, or signs. Stay inside your car
until the shaking stops.
When you resume driving, stay away from breaks in the pavement,
fallen rocks, bumps in the road at bridge or ramp approaches, and
anything else that doesn't look 'right'. If you are in a mountainous
area watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees, and other debris
that could be loosened by quakes.
Do not turn on the gas again if you've turned it off; the gas company
should do it. They'll know if it's safe to do so.
Do not use matches, lighters, camp stoves, barbecues, electrical
equipment or any appliances until you are sure there are no gas leaks.
They may create a spark that could ignite leaking gas and cause an
Do not use your telephone, except for a medical or fire emergency.
You could tie up the lines needed for emergency response. If an
emergency occurs and the phone doesn't work, send someone for help.
Do not expect firefighters, police or paramedics to definitely be
there for you. They may not be available.
Remember, the contents of your home may be damaged and can be
dangerous. Quakes can make light fixtures fall, and bookcases and
television sets topple over even after the shaking is over.
After the Earthquake
Wear sturdy shoes to avoid injury from broken glass and debris.
Steel-toed workboots may be best. Expect aftershocks.
Check for injuries to yourself and those around you; give first aid
where you can. If a person is bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound
and use clean gauze, or cloth if available. If a person is not breathing
administer CPR. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons
unless they are in further danger of injury. Cover the wounded with
blankets to keep them warm. Seek medical help for serious injuries.
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable
liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other
Open closet and cupboard doors cautiously.
Inspect the entire length of chimneys carefully for damage. Unnoticed
cracks could lead to a fire. Also inspect your gas, power and sewer
lines. If your utilities are damaged, fix them or get out until you can
have someone else do so. Listen to a battery-operated radio or
television for the latest emergency information.
Remember to check neighbors who may require special assistance -
infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
Stay out of buildings known to be damaged. Use the telephone only for
emergency calls. Only drive if there's an emergency. Keep the streets
clear for emergency vehicles.
Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest
emergency information. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
After the earthquake, brace overhead light fixtures. Contact your
local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more
information on earthquakes.
*Fire hazards - Put out fires in your home or neighborhood
immediately, and call for help. If their too big, wait for the
*Gas leaks - If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noises, open
a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside
main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home.
If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a
professional. Therefore, shut off the main gas valve only if you
suspect a leak because of broken pipes or odor. Also, don't light your
kitchen stove if you suspect a gas leak.
*Damaged electrical wiring - If you see sparks or broken or frayed
wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the
main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to
the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for
advice. Do not touch downed or damaged power lines or any objects in
contact with them.
*Sewage and water lines damage - If you suspect sewage lines are
damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are
damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.
You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
*Downed or damaged chimneys - Approach chimneys with caution after a
quake. Don't use a damaged chimney; it could start fire or let poisonous
gases into your house.
*Fallen Items - Beware of items tumbling off shelves when you open
doors of closets and cupboards.
*Food and Water Supplies - Do not eat or drink anything from open
containers near shattered glass. If power is off, plan meals to use up
foods that will spoil quickly or frozen foods (food in the freezer
should be good for at least a couple of days).
Pets after an Earthquake
A final word, about your pets.
The behavior of pets may change dramatically after an earthquake.
Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or
defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced
Pets may not be allowed into shelters for health and space reasons.
Prepare an emergency pen for pets in the home that includes a 3-day
supply of dry food and a large container of water.
We hope this relatively short article on earthquake survival will help
those who experience a quake. Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes, or
practically any other natural 'correction', we never know when an
earthquake is going to occur. Therefore the very best thing is to
prepare yourself and your family before the disaster strikes.
The Top 10 Survival Gear
The survival gear that makes this Top Ten list might surprise you. Effectiveness, ease of use, "survival power" and finally the price all play a factor. If our nation collapses or catastrophic disaster strikes, what gear will you have on hand?