San Francisco

Be Prepared: Here's What You Need for Your Emergency Go Bag

Thursday's 6.4 and Friday's 7.1-magnitude earthquakes in Southern California are reminders to be prepared here in the Bay Area.

Most people know you should have a flashlight and first aid kit for emergencies, but there are a few other things that are especially important when a strong earthquake hits.

A San Francisco program, Neighborhood Emergency Response Training, or NERT, trains residents to respond to disasters and emergencies. NERT, which was started after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, saw an overnight jump in interest as pictures of Thursday’s earthquake damage sparked a buzz about disaster preparedness on social media.

"I’m not prepared, but it made me think about getting prepared," said San Francisco resident Brian Flynn.

Fire Captain Erica Arteseros said that before the Southern California earthquake the NERT class was only partially full, but quickly filled after the incident was reported.

"It’s surprising what a great reminder an earthquake of that magnitude can be," she said.

NERT organizers encourage residents to sign up for the training, and they said if it’s full to get on a waitlist because more classes will be scheduled. Click here to sign up online.

Doug Gibson, a store manager at the ACE Hardware store in Walnut Creek, said your quake kit needs to also have a tool that can shut off your home's gas and water.

Emergency managers say a "Go Bag" is vital for families. It's useful for when a home is evacuated due to fire, flood, earthquake, mudslide, or any other natural disaster that strikes with little or no warning.

Here's what you'll need:

First aid kit: A decent well-stocked kit, including a couple of weeks' supply of any prescription medications you need. Also include pharmaceutical grade crazy (skin) glue.

Cash:  Plenty of it because depending on the event credit cards may not be useful. Consider having about $100-$200 in ones, that way you never need change. A couple of quarter rolls could come in handy.

One set of clothing: Think layers.

A blanket: To keep you warm; consider a Mylar emergency blanket, which is lightweight and packs up small.

Crank-style flashlight: Or snap lights such as glow-sticks.

Whistle: Good for locating people in a crowd, at night or in low visibility conditions.

Crank style or battery operated radio: Broadcasters might be available, even if cellular networks fail.

Nonperishable food: Energy bars are good and take up little space.


Goggles: Protect your eyes.

Hand and feet warmers: Get the carbon activated kind; they work great.

Rope: It has endless uses. Choose various sizes (rubber bands, too).

Big black trash bags: For use as a poncho, or cut open to make a tent.

Multi-use knife.

Dust masks (two per person) Best if they're heavy-duty respirator-type masks.

Duct tape.

Plastic sheeting.

Copies of documents: Passport, driver's license, insurance, and any other important documents.

Paper street map: GPS might go down.


Maxi Pads: Can also be used as a bandage if needed.

Copy of your ID.

Sticky pad, pen and pencil: In case you need to leave a note for family to let them know where you went or where to meet. Also, keep at least one wallet size photo of your immediate family, children, or pets. This is crucial in case you get separated and need to enlist the help of others to find your loved ones.

Antibacterial hand wash: Available at any pharmacy and most supermarkets and convenience stores, for cleaning hands and even wounds in a pinch. You never know what you may have to touch in an emergency.

Comfortable sturdy pair of shoes.

A pair of leather work gloves: Again, think rescue and retrieval.

Three underwear, three pairs of socks.

Pet care products.

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