Hoard This, Not That

Lauren Murrow | September 26, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Editor's Note: This is one of many stories about earthquakes past and future that San Francisco is publishing over the next month, all part of our October cover package, "Cracks in the Earth." To see the rest of the issue's contents, and to read stories as they become available online, click here.

The very idea of an earthquake kit is anxiety-provoking. “People think, ‘if i ever have to open this, it means the sky is falling,’” says Kristin Hogan, a specialist at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. For that reason, most of us are either pick ax-wielding overpacked or in a daunted state of denial. Don’t sweat it. “Even if all hell breaks loose, you really only need a handful of things,” says David Yacubian, lead consultant at emergency-preparedness training company Ready SF. (He should know: he and his wife cared for their two-year-old and six-month-old without power or water for two weeks after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in New Zealand.) Here, the stuff you’ll need, use, and wish you had.


1. Water
Stockpile three gallons per person (and pet) in a cool, dark place. Tap water can be stored for up to six months. Reliance Desert Patrol 3-gallon water container. $14 at REI (Essential)

2. Bleach
If the water supply is tainted, purify one gallon of water with eight drops of unscented bleach. $3.49 at City Target (Useful)

3. Nonperishable Food
“Think of it like a weekend without a trip to the grocery store,” says Hogan. Consider which canned goods you’d most readily eat without heat, advises Yacubian. Pro Bar meal bar, $3 at Sports Basement (Essential)

4. Manual Can Opener
$14 at Bed Bath & Beyond (Essential)

5. Flashlight
“I keep one in my kitchen, bedroom, and son’s bedroom,” says Hogan. Even better? A headlamp. Gobe Spot, from $200 at Bamboo Reef; Petzl Tikka Plus Headlamp, $39.95 at Sports Basement (Essential)

6. Batteries
From $4 at Cole Hardware (Essential)

7. Clean Clothes, Sturdy Shoes
“Imagine you’re going on a three-day off-trail camping trip—or to Burning Man,” says Hogan. Emeryville lace-up boots, $178 at Levi’s (Useful)

8. Fire Extinguisher
From $14 at Cole Hardware (Essential)

9. First Aid Kit
“There’s no need to stockpile a bunch of surgical equipment,” says Yacubian. “Stick to the basics.” Coleman all-purpose first aid kit, $6 at REI (Essential)

10. Super-charger
Hogan’s provides up to 480 hours of power and can charge multiple devices. Mycharge Hub 6000 portable power bank, $75 at Best Buy (Optional)

11. Hand-crank radio
Eton hand turbine radio, $60 at REI (Useful)

12. Hand-crank coffee grinder
“Because pregrinding beans is a terrible thing to do to coffee,” jokes Hogan. Hario manual coffee grinder, $65 at Sur La Table (Optional)

13. Cash
Keep $50 to $100 in $1 bills. (Essential)

14. Glow Sticks
They’ll shine for up to 12 hours and double as a nightlight. $4.50 for 9 at Pier 1 (Optional)

15. Flameless Candles
Battery-powered LED votives glow for 60 hours. $4.95 for 4 at Pier 1 (Optional)

16. Top-Loading Freezer
If you keep it shut, the food within will stay cold for up to three days without power. From $189 at Home Depot (Optional)

17. Hand Sanitizer
$3 at City Target (Useful)

18. Charcoal
Handy for cookouts. “There was a block party feeling after Loma Prieta because everybody was barbecuing,” says Hogan. From $9 at Cole Hardware (Optional)

19. Wine
“A great way to bring neighbors together,” Hogan says. $6 at Trader Joe’s (Optional)

20. Tools
A hammer, screwdriver, and small knife. From $8 (Useful)

21. Work Gloves
Useful for cleaning up glass. Leather-palm work gloves, $10 at Cole Hardware (Useful)

22. Gas Shut-Off Wrench
Don’t touch it unless you smell gas. “Once you shut the gas off, only PG&E can turn it back on,” says Hogan. “Who knows how long that’ll take?” $9 at Cole Hardware (Useful)

23. Plastic Tarp
For covering broken windows. From $8 at REI (Useful)

24. Luminaid
A solar-powered, inflatable light the size of a small pillow. “We use it when we go camping, but it’s equally useful in an emergency,” says Yacubian. $19.95 at luminaid.com (Optional)

25. Portable toilet
In dire situations, this five-gallon bucket transforms into a toilet. Reliance Luggable Loo, $19.95 at REI (Useful)

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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