The space under your bed can hold many things. From the wrinkled gorilla costume you wore to Bay-to-Breakers last year, the roller skates you bought during your Roller Derby phase, that Clipper card you lost a few months ago, and maybe even a cobweb-covered La Taqueria wrapper. We get it – you’re in San Francisco. No judgment.
We know living in San Francisco means any number of weird things, including having a plan in place for San Francisco's next earthquake. The US Geological Survey says there is a 93% chance of a major earthquake (6.7+) in Northern California in the next 23 years. The Hayward Fault, which runs along the east side of the Bay, averages a major earthquake every 140 years. The last one was in 1868, meaning we are 7 years overdue. We know we're due for another major earthquake; it's just a matter of when.
No matter what’s brewing below our mattresses, we need some basics in place for a major earthquake. We’ve designed The Earthquake Bag to cover us if we need to evacuate, or in case we lose access to modern staples like electricity, grocery stores, internet, or phone service. There’s no way we’re going solo, and you shouldn’t either.
Here are the four things every San Franciscan should have under their bed:
Food and Water (that won't go bad)
Basic preparedness means knowing you can eat and stay hydrated for at least 48 hours. In emergencies, keeping your energy and hydration up is crucial. You won't have time to pop into the kitchen, put meals together and fill up your Camelbak- you'll need to move quickly!
For food, you’ll need a supply that won't expire in the next five years. It should be high in calories (at least 2400 calories), able to hold up in extreme temperatures, and be easy to carry. The most efficient method is military-style MREs (meal ready-to-eat). For water, something pre-sealed and easy to carry works well. We use vacuum-sealed water pouches. Store them away from light so it stays fresh.
Keeping that food and water in a backpack under your bed (next to the gorilla costume, of course) as a grab-and-go solution is ideal. You'll want something to carry all your earthquake prep items, including the following three.
First Aid Kit
This is another absolute must for survival. After the Napa earthquake in 2014, the US Geological Survey found that 23% of households had one or more family members injured during or after the quake. The most common injuries were deep cuts, puncture wounds and large scrapes or bruises.
Make sure you have a first aid kit and can treat any minor to intermediate injuries that occur. A basic kit should be fine, but it’s vital to have a first aid kit in your bag.
Just being near AT&T Park during a Giants game is enough to make phone service non-existent. Imagine a scenario where cell service is out for long stretches of time. No electricity for light, charging devices, or communication methods. And forget about just Googling the info you need.
Staying in touch without a smartphone means that an emergency radio is indispensable. After an earthquake, up-to-date emergency information is vital to knowing what to do and where to go. Emergency radio stations will provide up-to-the-minute evacuation routes, tsunami warnings, citywide broadcasts, and shelter locations.
We’ve opted for a radio that doubles as a flashlight and triples as a phone charger. We love that ours is hand-cranked, so we never have to worry being in the dark without batteries or electricity.
Evacuation Plan and Emergency Info
How many phone numbers do you know by heart? Ready… go! Yeah, we only knew our parents’ old home number too.
It's hard to imagine a scenario where you can't just prompt Siri "best ramen spot, Noe Valley", or pull up the number for your doctor via Google. After a major earthquake we won't be able to turn to the Internet to tell us what to do, and the stakes are much higher.
To prepare, everyone should have their local emergency info and a plan. The Earthquake Bag comes with all the local information you need, because we aren’t going to just wing it in an emergency.
Every bag should include:
- Personal contacts (include out-of-town contacts who you know can be reached)
- Emergency services contacts (fire station, police, poison centers, hospitals/urgent care)
- Gas shutoff instructions for your building
- Printed maps with evac routes and nearest emergency services
- Cheat sheets for emergency situations (fire, tsunami, evacuations, etc.)
- Copies of ID, personal records and insurance docs
- Individual plan to coordinate with family, significant other, or roommates
Play it cool (like you always do) and be prepared.
Whether you’ve got a DIY earthquake bag, or just grab our tailored Earthquake Bag, make sure you have one for under your bed ASAP. Our mission is to make earthquake prep as easy as possible, so when the next major earthquake hits we know our neighbors are ready!
Every bag needs space for a personal touch… what special items would you not want to live without in an emergency? Leave it in the comments below!
-The Earthquake Bag team