Never Been In An Earthquake? Here’s What You Should Pack In An Emergency Kit

Never Been In An Earthquake? Here’s What You Should Pack In An Emergency Kit
Photo: Mario Tama, Getty

If you don’t live earthquake country, experiencing one for the first time can be scary – and you might not know how best to prepare. When travelling to countries like the U.S. that exist on fault lines, it might just be something you’ll need to know. Put that anxiety to good use and get your emergency kits ready.

Prepare to shelter in place

In the aftermath of an earthquake, the safest place to be is probably wherever you are. But since you may not be able to travel far, you’ll want to have enough supplies at home to take care of your basic needs. “YES, YOU NEED A KIT. Do you want to spend two weeks without toilet paper?” disaster scientist Mika McKinnon tweeted.

Your emergency kit should be able to keep you and everyone you’re travelling with safe and taken care of for three or more days. Make sure it includes at least three days’ worth of:

  • bottled water

  • non-perishable food

  • toilet paper, diapers, garbage bags, and other items for sanitation

  • a way to keep items like torches and phones charged (batteries or a hand-crank power supply)

  • a torch, a whistle, a first aid kit, and a hand-crank radio

  • copies of important documents, including contact information for a check-in person who doesn’t live in the area, and a copy of your emergency plan.

McKinnon recommends this emergency plan guide from British Columbia, which you can customise for your own needs.

Pack a “go bag”

Less important, but still good to have on hand, is a bag to grab if you have to evacuate in a hurry from your hotel or lodgings. If you end up having to leave, you’ll want a go bag with documents and supplies.

The essentials for a go bag include:

  • Personal documents, like passports

  • A checklist of things to grab as you leave, like valuables and medication

  • Drinking water (400mL per person per day) and non-perishable food

  • A torch, first aid kit, and other safety items


  • The chances of being in a major earthquake while on holiday, even in an earthquake prone area, is close to zero.

    So really, don’t bother with emergency kits.

    • I was in Ecuador during some recent quakes… In a Hotel. They decided to evacuate the Hotel to be safe… I very quickly learned that sleeping naked is probably not a great idea in that scenario. lol

      So apart from that I decided to keep passport and wallet in my jacket next to my phone.

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