Living on the edge of the Pan-Pacific plate, I’m often reminded why insurance is so important –  especially home insurance – when the “big one” hits; your entire abode and belongs could possibly be damaged. That “big one” where I’m from is an earthquake, the kind that shakes, rattles, and rolls. Last week was national “Shake week”, a reminder to be prepared.

Good Advice

From previous experience, it’s not uncommon for the electricity to be shut off for a while, possibly water and gas, and for stores to be closed for up to a week or more. In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, we were fortunate enough to hit up a grocery store and purchase canned goods and water. After getting over the initial shock, we even started cleaning up our home and making it livable again. Most of the destruction was to our cinder block wall around the yard and chimney while the house remained intact.

Some insurance companies still offer earthquake insurance, though they are harder to find and often have a high deductible. However, it’s definitely worth the extra cost and peace of mind. Not only can structural damage be costly, but items that have fallen over in the quake often need replacing.

Be Prepared

In the event of a much larger quake, it’s safe to say that services may not be available for many days which means we’d need enough supplies to get by for at least one week. Below is a list of items that should be in a convenient location (not buried in the garage):

  • Water. The minimum is a gallon a day per person. This needs to be replaced every six months and pets count as people.
  • Canned and packaged foods.
  • Manual can opener.
  • First aid kit.
  • Clothing.
  • Blanket.
  • Flashlight and portable,  battery-operated radio.
  • Batteries.
  • Paper goods and bathroom supplies (toothbrush, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Water purification tablets.
  • Cash.
  • Waterproof matches.
  • Pens, paper, map. (Okay, the map is in case streets are closed due to damage).
  • Small tool kit that includes knife or razor.
  • Plastic gloves.
  • Person-specific items like eye-glasses, contacts, diapers for baby, etc.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Aluminum foil.
  • A camp stove and camping equipment would be nice, but not a “must have”.

If you want to pack the minimum or go all out and store a box/crate in a shed, a great place to start is They have kit descriptions for every type of disaster.

Are you prepared for  a disaster? Do you have an emergency kit handy? (This is still on my “to do” list – bad me!)