What’s In Your Wallet–Er, Earthquake Kits?

For why we have them, take a look at the first post in this series.

A little while ago Mrs. Sandwich posted about things she found in the closet, and the earthquake kits came up (along with a bunch of other jumbled stuff). She asked if I wanted to do a guest post describing the kits, and here we are, although in truth this is gonna take more than one post, but here goes:

Stashed under the bed I have a canvas tote bag, handed out free by some conference that took place on campus. In that, there are:

  • One pair running shoes
  • One pair socks
  • One pair underwear
  • One pair shorts
  • One T-shirt
  • Gloves
  • Flashlight

I figured that in the event of another dead-of-night earthquake I can grab that bag and at the very least have clothes and shoes to get me outside the house after the shaking has stopped.

The earthquake kits in the closet were put together starting at a point in my life when I was doing some regular backpacking. Since back-country backpacking involved carrying with you all the stuff you need to survive in the wild for a while, a loaded backpack in the closet seemed like the most reasonable vehicle to have all the necessities of life packed and ready to go post-temblor. I picked up a Lowe-Alpine Australis on clearance sale at REI, and it is stuffed with the following:

  • 1 Flashlight
  • 8 glow sticks (no batteries needed)
  • 1 pair Converse All-stars plus socks.
  • 2 soft arm slings (I got them when I hurt my hand a couple of years ago and they seemed like a good first aid thing to have on hand)
  • 2 flexible water bags. You know, those mylar canteen thingies with spouts on them
  • 4 candles
  • 1 Quart of water
  • 1 WW 2 Cattaraugus Commando Knife…why? Because I’m Brock Sampson, that’s why.
  • 1 bag of Lexan camping utensils
  • 1 CB radio
  • 1 transistor radio
  • 1 MSR water filter
  • Batteries
  • 1 mess kit
  • 1 bottle insect repellent
  • 1 bottle camp soap
  • 2 pair underwear
  • 1 pair black cargo pants
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • 1 trash bag
  • 1 rain poncho
  • 1 fast-drying camp towel
  • 1 pair coveralls…again, why? ‘Cuz I figured I may need to do some crawling around and mucking out of trashed spaces and the Post-Tectonic Wasteland is probably filled with nails and splinters and broken glass and God’s gift to Tetanus, so perhaps some coveralls would be in order.
  • 1 package of static nylon rope (It always seemed to come in handy when we were playing Dungeons and Dragons)
  • 1 Sierra Cup (also known as ‘Tiny Mess Kit.’ C’mon. Sing it with me now, “Hold me close I’m Tiny Mess Kiiiiiit!”)
  • 1 wrist brace
  • 1 BMX bike helmet (Again, the post-tectonic wasteland will probably have falling/toppling hazards for quite a while so a BMX hard shell helmet not only gives you post-earthquake cycling protection, but also serves as a decent hardhat)
  • 2 Military Grade MRE’s
  • 1 Gas Mask

I know, I know, most of you read that last item and were like “WTF? Gas Mask?” Please bear in mind that some of the items in this Earthquake/Emergency kit were included in the dizzy paranoia that was in the air immediately post 9/11. I was glued to the TV and Rumsfeld or somebody was on there talking about Anthrax and Bio-terror and getting duct tape and trashbags to seal ourselves in from dirty bomb fallout or Rycin or Mustard Gas or some damn thing and I was like “Screw this noise! I’m getting a gas mask! eBay here I come!” I was newly dating Mrs. Sandwich at the time, and we were at that point where she was asking me if it was too forward of her to leave a hair dryer with me rather than have to travel across the country with one in her luggage and my response was “I’m hope I’m not being too forward, but I bought you a gas mask.” I figured when Al-Qaida attacked we could don our gas masks and stare longingly through the little glass eyepieces at each other in my trash bagged and duct-taped apartment while we made Darth-Vader breath sounds at each other. If you close your eyes you can just feel the romance…

Anyway, so that’s why there’s a gas mask in the earthquake kit. And in Mrs. Sandwich’s too. Speaking of which…

When we were first married we lived in a crappy apartment in Palms (one of the less affluent neighborhoods in West L.A.) and I would go jogging in a 5 mile loop that circled some of the adjacent, more affluent places in West L.A. I basically went up Overland, across Pico, down Motor and back across Palms Blvd. Anyway, while jogging one day I ran past a house and saw that someone had crammed into their trash can a Lowe Alpine 70×15 Women’s internal-framed backpack along with a 4 man tent, and I was like “Score!!” Side note: some of the neighborhoods in West Los Angeles have a definition of ‘trash’ that most people on this planet would not even come close to recognizing. I mean, one time I was running down Motor and I saw someone had tossed out on the curb two fully functional looms. Looms! With thread and those little shuttle thingies and bobbins and whatnot and my first impulse was to call my sister who does costuming and Comic-Con and asked “Hey, do you or your fiends want to make your own cloth for Renn-Faire, because there’s two looms sitting out on the curb on Overland!” She didn’t. But still, two whole looms, just sitting there . . . looming.

Anyway, so I grab the backpack and tent, dragged those home, and after running them through the wash to get a rather insignificant amount of dog hair off it Mrs. Sandwich has her own earthquake kit. Its contents consist of:

  • 2 transistor radios
  • 1 signal mirror
  • Batteries
  • Water purification pills
  • Nail file (she’s got nail files all over the place, from the seat cushions of the couch to the top of the living-room bookshelf. In the Post-tectonic wasteland her nails will still be well looked after)
  • Spare pair of prescription glasses
  • Sewing Kit
  • Space blanket
  • 2 Nalgene bottles
  • 1 glow stick
  • 3 quarts of water
  • Wool socks
  • Wool gloves
  • Leather boots
  • 1 pair socks
  • 1 pair underwear
  • A list of emergency kit items (Note: Mrs.Sandwich is WAY more well-ordered and by-the-book about this whole thing than I am)
  • 2 shirts
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 sports bra
  • 1 BMX bike helmet (same as above)
  • Fleece blanket
  • Mess kit
  • Gas mask (Aaaawwwwwww! Wuv! Twu Wuv!)
  • Rain Poncho

Ok so that’s it. Theoretically if we make it through the initial P, S and T waves we will have enough supplies to get us up out of bed, outside onto the front lawn and away from power lines and safely hunkered down until the shaking stops. But see, that’s not all, because remember that Rubbermaid tub that was the first earthquake kit? That’s still around, and if we make it out of the house and I have enough time to swing by the spare bedroom, in THAT closet there’s the Rubbermaid tub which has a whole OTHER set of emergency supplies for me, Mrs. Sandwich and Baguette to…Oh Holy Poop! I forgot about our daughter! I gotta go!

…OK, I’m back. So now I went through Oma’s box of clothes she found at the thrift shops but are too big for Baguette and I have added them to Mrs. Sandwich’s earthquake kit. They are:
One oversized fleece sleeper. I figure I can cut the feet off it if need be and she has little baby fleecy overalls.

  • 3 pairs pants
  • 2 shirts
  • 1 Minnie Mouse fleece blanket
  • Pull-ups
  • Wipes

There. Now at least our daughter won’t have to wander the Post-Tectonic Wasteland in her Monkey Ballerina Jammy Jams. Oh damnit! I forgot about her shoes! I gotta go! More later!

8 thoughts on “What’s In Your Wallet–Er, Earthquake Kits?

  1. It is interesting to see how different people prep for this sort of thing. I have a “go bag” for the entire family shoved under my desk. It has a few changes of underwear, and clothes for the kids, but I think the grown ups will be stuck wearing whatever we’re in when we grab it and run (and interestingly, my SoCal catastrophe of choice for late night worrying is fires, not earthquakes- but I’ve only been through a pretty low key earthquake, nothing on the order of Northridge). There are also Goldfish, a can of cashews, and other snacks my kids will actually eat, plus some travel size toiletries, those emergency blankets, and our travel first aid kit.

    After that big blackout we had a while back, I realized I couldn’t find our travel radio, which reduced us to listening to news on a pink bunny novelty radio. Also, my husband has insisted on moving us to VoIP phone instead of a true landline, so I insisted on a solar power/handcrank charger for our cell phones. It also has a radio and a light. And my husband has again stored it somewhere unbeknownst to me. I should fix that.

    I also have a list of other things to grab in a hurry taped to the top of the go bag. And we have jugs of water in the garage and I keep canned goods in the pantry even though we almost never eat them- I just cycle them through once a year by donating what I have to the food bank and buying new ones.

    1. This is really only the beginning for us. We have containers of supplies everywhere. It’s not that we’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse (although I guess maybe we’ll be as ready as we can be) as much as it is that we always pack too much stuff. We look like we’re moving when we go on vacation.

  2. I’m so tired, it took me five minutes to figure out why you were referring to yourself in the third person and why this post was so verbose. So I reread the intro, and it all became clear. 🙂

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