How Long Do I Need to Be Prepared for After an Earthquake?

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How long is long enough? If you’re trying to prepare for the effects of a natural disaster, it can be difficult to gauge how long you will actually need tools and supplies for. The Red Cross recommends up to two weeks, while the CDC encourages at least three days.

If you have family members or a pet to prepare supplies for, in addition to yourself, make sure you have at least three days worth for everyone.

There are a lot of different recommendations, so how can you really know which is right for you?

Here we break it down by a few different factors so you understand how the guidelines will apply and which make sense for you.

Geography

Geography plays a big role in disaster relief efforts. There are certain risks associated with the area in which you live. If you live on the coast there could be landslides, or the ground may be unstable if you’re in a liquefaction zone. Depending on the land structure there are additional risks, so it may take longer for disaster relief  efforts to make it to your area.

Also, highly populated areas will be dealt with first, so if you live in a less populated area, you’ll want to have a few more days worth of supplies than the recommended average.

Lastly, what are your local and state protocols for disaster relief efforts? You can find more information on your state or local websites or check out DisasterAssistance.gov.

It is up to the local authorities to exercise initial efforts and activate federal relief when a disaster strikes. Depending on how well you know their assistance protocols, you can decide what's right for you, but it’s best to be prepared for a longer response time.

Level of Disaster  

As stated above, local and state authorities determine if federal assistance is required. If they are capable of responding to the aftermath without the assistance of the federal government, the timeline may be stretched a bit. Luckily the overall disaster impacts are lower but the rebuilding efforts will take a bit longer. Again, always better to err on the side of caution and over prepare.

Access to certain areas can also halt relief efforts significantly. Have the roads been blocked? Are there safe passages for rescue teams to travel? Sometimes, safe roadways need to be cleared or temporarily rebuilt which will cause unexpected or unforeseen delays.

Sometimes one area has been hit harder than another. In order to maximize mitigation efforts, the areas with higher population and greater risks of harm will be tended to first.

One unfortunate potential is that in any given area, there could be one or two neighborhoods who were heavily impacted by an earthquake or other natural disaster but in another area, an entire city has been hit, the largest populated area will take precedence.

Evacuation Efforts

Many times, prior to a disaster striking, there will be mandatory evacuation in place. In this case, local authorities will tend to areas where evacuation may not have been required. The expectation with a mandatory evacuation order is that there will not be anyone needing to be rescued in a certain area in the aftermath. Scientists are often times capable of anticipating which areas will be hit the worst. Because of this, they request evacuation to reduce the need for rescues. If you have not heeded the warning, you may be waiting longer than you would typically expect.

Also, if you live near areas that required evacuation, the population could have doubled in size. This means there is more traffic and more people to tend to. More people means longer waiting.

It is always best to prepare for too much time than too little. Having too many supplies won’t hurt! But where do you draw the line between being responsibly prepared and becoming a doomsday prepper?

At The Earthquake Bag, we recommend a three day supply at minimum. It’s fairly common to wait three days for response. A seven day supply is even better. Sometimes we can underestimate our calorie intake or water consumption, so it’s a good idea to have a little extra on hand.

Living on West Coast, we know disasters are common. Earthquake and fire warnings happen much more frequently than other areas of the country so we know preparation is important. Don’t be paranoid, just be smart.

Check out our collection of Earthquake Bags; we offer a variety of disaster preparedness options. And don’t forget to check out the car bags, pet bags, food and water add-ons as well as the available tools.

We want you to be reasonably prepared; it will offer peace of mind for you and your family without taking up too much space in your home or car.

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  • Skyler Hallgren
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