How to Make an Earthquake Preparedness Kit

"pack the bags. run" earthquake preparedness kit GIF
Ok, let’s not overreact.

Now that you’re convinced that you need to prepare for an earthquake, it’s time to make your preparedness kit. When things start to get shaky, it’ll help to have all the supplies you need all packed up in an easy-to-find place.

Store enough supplies to be able to survive for at least 72 hours without power or access to food and water.

You might be thinking, “I can survive that long with the contents of my purse.” Maybe that’s true, but you should still create a kit because it’s highly unlikely that everything you need is, in fact, in anyone’s purse, briefcase, or backpack.

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Here are some of the essential items you should include in your earthquake preparedness kit:

Water – Pack at least one gallon of water per person per day. In a 72-hour kit, that means three gallons per person in your household. You might not drink a gallon of water per day, but it can also be used for sanitary purposes.

Food – Bring enough to feed everyone for at least three days. Make sure to use non-perishables like canned food and energy bars.

Radio – What’ll you do if you lose Wi-Fi and can’t check Twitter for situation updates? Go old school and listen to the radio. Find one that can run on batteries in case you lose power. And include a package of extra batteries. Or better yet, get one of those crank radios.

Flashlight – No power means no lights. Don’t forget the correct-size batteries for it, which are often size D.

First aid kit – A kit within a kit? That’s right. Pack a first aid kit complete with bandages, antiseptic wipes or solution, adhesive tape, disposable gloves, and tweezers for splinters.

Extra batteries – Yes, we’re repeating ourselves here, but you can never have enough batteries. Make sure to pack different types to power all your gadgets.

Whistle – If your house or building collapses and you’re trapped inside, you’ll need to signal for help. Whistles are louder than your voice and won’t get worn out.

Dust masks –Earthquakes kick up a lot of dust, especially if there’s structural damage. Keep enough masks for everyone in your family.

Plastic sheeting and duct tape – You can use it to patch holes in the roof or walls or build a makeshift shelter

Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties – When nature calls and your plumbing no longer works, you’ll be grateful.

Adjustable wrench and pliers – You can turn off water valves and shut off other utilities.

Manual can opener – To open your canned food.

Phone chargers, battery backup, or power bank – You think it’s hard to find your charger now? Try searching during an earthquake.

Medications – Keep a three-day supply of any prescriptions your family needs. No, wine doesn’t count as medication, although it might not hurt.

Eye glasses/contact solution – This is a good place for the backup glasses you’ve had since high school.

Sleeping bags and warm blankets – It might be drafty if there’s been any structural damage to your building.

Entertainment – Pack some books, games, and puzzles—as many as you can find. You know what happens when your kids get bored.

rubik's cube, earthquake preparedness kit
A single toy could save your sanity.

What else you might need:

If you menstruate or there is someone in your group who does, don’t forget to pack feminine hygiene supplies.

If you have infants or pets, don’t forget about their needs too. Pack enough diapers, wipes, formula, food, and water to keep their needs met for three days as well.

You never know where you’ll be when an earthquake hits, so FEMA recommends making several kits to stash in your office, your car, and your house. Make sure the kit in your house is the most extensive, in case you need to shelter in place during an extended power outage or similar loss of services.

If this sounds like way too much work, you might be in the market for a pre-packaged kit. Whether you choose to make your own from scratch or buy one ready made, you’ll need to maintain it.


Ain’t no shame in the prepackaged game. Better to be partially prepared than not prepared at all! Prepackaged kits are a great starting point, since they make it easy to check off the basics and give you more time to devote to collecting items to meet your family’s more specific needs.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Professional worrier. Mom, entrepreneur. Lifetime student of brain science. Passionate about surviving what's coming (climate change, wtf) and staying as sane as possible. Determined to make the best of the end of the world.