SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KTVU) - As we remember today's Loma Prieta Earthquake 27th anniversary, we've learned from all major modern-era earthquakes and other disasters worldwide, after it hits, time, routines and business stands still for several days. Having the things you need, on hand and readily available can make the three to five days afterwards, bearable.
The Cunningham’s, just back from Italy, bought an earthquake kit after experiencing a bad earthquake there. They came to the Earthquake and Disaster Supply Center, a fixture in San Rafael for two decades, one of a few such Bay Area stores.
"Well living in California, we're always aware of earthquake possibilities. And, it's like insurance; you hope you never have to use it but, at least, you have it," says Ed Cunningham.
"I think the authorities, police and fire, are going to be very busy. We've got to take care of ourselves," says Catherine Cunningham.
Sad but true, despite specific lists available for free, most folks have absolutely no organized disaster preparedness kit, even though they could assemble one themselves with a short trip to a grocery and hardware store. "The odds are they probably won't put the kit together even if they could save a few dollars," says Michael Skylar, founder of the Disaster Supply Center.
Food products here have extremely long shelf lives, including water with 30 to 50 year life spans. Things that have to be replaced on a regular basis are plainly marked as such and there are replenishment kits to update the kit. Rescue tools, first-aid kits and sanitary sewage supplies are essential. Money, $100 in small bills and change should be in there since banks, ATMs and credit card machines may not be functioning.
Kits should not be stuffed in closets or basements that might become inaccessible. "The earthquake kit belongs in your vehicle. You want to have supplies with you at all times; whether you're just down in town for the day or over a bridge," says Mr. Skylar. The kit should be in a backpack or duffle bag you can carry, never to be raided for goodies or supplies until needed.
"As soon as an event occurs, a crisis occurs; people go out to the stores and clean out the shelves. So, you're not gonna find food and water and the things that you want," says Skylar.
The internet is full of options as we saw today on eBay, Amazon and other websites where prices vary wildly. But, at other brick and mortar disaster supply stores, it's hands on with expert guidance.
"We're here to help people understand how to use the products, what they're good for," concludes Mr. Skylar.
After you get all your supplies together, don't forget the most important things: personal things such as prescriptions, like glasses in a case so they don't get crushed, food for you pets. All of these things are necessary if you're going to be truly prepared for an earthquake.