Rural Living

Are you prepared for an Earthquake

I think that here in Canada, BC especially, we often forget that we have just as many earthquakes as California.  The oceanic Pacific plate is the equivalent of the San Andres fault.  Canada’s largest historical earthquake was along this fault time in 1949.  The earth quake on Oct 28th that registered 7.7 magnitude, was the third largest one in Canadian history.  This particular area is less populated then most coastal areas and the residents are very prepared as small earth quakes happen often there.

I wanted to put together some useful info, so you would know more about earthquakes and so you could be prepared in the event an earthquake happens near you.

General preparedness

I personally feel that most people are not prepared enough for unforeseen events.  I would hazard a guess that most people would have a hard time if they just lost power for 3 days.  Now think about how you would handle an earthquake that would take several weeks, if not months to recover from.

It is not about freaking you out, it is not about a crazy zombi attach, it is jsut about having food, water and shelter for a couple of days or weeks until things could return to normal.


Earthquakes are one of the most terrifying natural disasters known.  They occur quickly and without warning.  They can be just small tremors that leave us a little bit spooked or knock a favorite vase from a shelf or they can be massive eruptive, lunging, and shaking episodes that level everything for miles around.  They can cause a small crack in a window or shake your whole house into rubble in a matter of minutes.   After a severe quake strong aftershocks can shake you repeatedly for days and sometimes weeks after the original quake. They can also send tsunamis half way around the world to create a completely different disaster for others on living on shorelines.

We know now that the most massive earthquakes happen in regions of subduction zones, where one continental plate is pushing under another.   We have seen the results of a few extremely strong quakes recently and in our lifetimes we can expect to see more of them.  The beginning months of 2010 brought with them two devastatingly strong quakes.  While the 7 magnitude quake in Haiti took approximately a quarter of a million lives, the 8.8 magnitude quake in Chile,  which was almost a thousand times stronger,  took only around 600 lives.

What can we do to ensure we will be survivors in the case we find ourselves in the midst of a calamitous earthquake?

While it is unusual for anyone to be killed in a 5 magnitude earthquake, it’s not so unlikely to lose lives in a 6 magnitude earthquake, and those happen globally at the rate of around 140 per year. The 2010 Haiti quake was a magnitude 7.0 quake and those events happen between 15 and 20 times per year on the average.  Quakes of magnitude 8 or stronger only happen once a year on a usual basis, but the lithosphere of the earth is now shifting and a few years ago we actually saw 5 of those within a year’s time.  Most of those happened in areas that were not highly populated, but we won’t always be that fortunate.  We are experiencing more large quakes right now than is usual.

The reason for mentioning these figures is that people do not realize how frequently these major events do happen.  Unless they happen in areas in which they cause a lot of death and destruction, most people will never hear of the quakes. One of the most important things in survival is to understand that these events are actually frequent events rather than the isolated few you hear about on the news.  Many people who were informed and educated about earthquake safety have died because they just didn’t think that it was likely that they would ever really be caught in a major earthquake.

You don’t want to make this kind of error.  Know that fatal earthquakes are a possibility even if you live in an area that is not prone to quakes. Also Know that such quakes are normal and not just  freak occurrences.  Once you know the likelihood and the usual severity of quakes in your area, the stability of your own home and it’s structural weaknesses, you are ready to take action to prevent being killed or severely injured in a major event.

How to be prepared

okay enough of all the details, I think that you understand, being prepared is your best chance.

Tip # 1 – Know your area.  What are the potential risks that could happen in your area; earthquakes, wild fire, floods.Have a plan.

Tip # 2 – Know exactly what you would do in the event of an earthquake. Ensure that your family also knows the plan and review it often.

Tip # 3 –  Have Emergency Kits.  Kits would include at the very least 3 days worth of basic items that ensure you could survive.


I have published this before, but I think that it is a good idea to do it again.

Must Have Items for Your Bug out Bag

Your bug out back is your lifesaver in the event of a disaster. Quite a few people ask, what are the most essential things to place in a bug out bag? Here’s a list of must have items you should have in your bug out bag and why you need them.

–          Crank Radio – this is probably one of the most essential pieces of kit because it doesn’t need batteries and you may even find some makes with solar panels. You’ll need this because you obviously want to stay connected with what’s going on. If there alert messages are being sent out on radio channels you’ll definitely want to know about them.

–          First Aid Kit – You can find special first aid kids which contain your entire bug out essentials and also you may want to add a small first aid book so you know how to treat injuries effectively and safely.

–          Wind and waterproof matches as well as an additional butane lighter are essential (as is a fire lighter kit) These are small and can easily be carried in a waterproof box.

–          Sleeping bags – try and invest in some good camping ones that fold up in a compact way. You can also use woollen blankets too.

–          Glow sticks and crank torch are easy to carry lighting tools.

–          Personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, soap, toothpaste/brush, and feminine hygiene and if needed for babies, diapers. Don’t over pack – just take what you feasibly need.

–          Swiss army knife with scissors is a great compact tool to have for just about anything you need it to do while outdoors.

–          Maps and a compass – try not to reply on any digital compass (like on a cell phone) if the batteries die you’ll have no way to charge it up.

–          Whistle and small emergency flares are used to alert others to your presence or ward off attackers or dangerous animals.

–          Heavy duty thread and small sewing kit for obvious wear and tear of clothes and sleeping essentials.

–          Towels, Dishcloths and multi-unit cutlery.

–          Tent and Tarp

–          Enough warm clothes for each family member (you should include gloves and hat also)

–          Cards and travel board games are essential if you have children.

–          Medication – enough for 72 hours at least.  You may want to pack some extra glasses too.

–          Garbage bags – take at least 25 to 30 bags. These can be use for garbage, raincoats, shelter and ground cloths.

–          Rope – light weight rope for binding and possibly rescue.


Many of these items can be picked up very cheaply and you should check your local thrift store for second hand equipment.  I have found many of my supplies at a local camping store.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money and focus on the basics.


Photo Credit: By Kordian

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