As you know, I’m from Los Angeles, where earthquakes are a pretty common thing. The only time I ever had an earthquake kit was when I was going to a private school that required we bring one with us on the first day of class. So since 8th grade, I have been earthquake kit free and here’s why:
I have never ever heard of an earthquake kit saving anybody ever. In the event that your house collapses around you, you are either dead, too injured to move, or able to walk out of the blast radius to safety and services. Northridge, CA, famous for the 1994 Northridge earthquake is 25 miles from Altadena, CA where I grew up, and I remember the quake fairly well. They closed my school due to structural damage.
57 people officially died in the quake. 33 died immediately, or from fatal injuries they sustained in the quake, and the rest are heart attack deaths attributed to the quake. Nobody died of dehydration. Or exposure.
So, putting bottled water and shiny silver blankets into the farthest recesses of closets that might not even be there in the event of a disaster rings more than a little bit futile to me. I think government and healthcare officials like to tell us to make earthquake kits because it has a calming effect: I won’t be crushed to death by my own chimney, I have a plastic bag full of nothing in a place I can’t reach!
The only real thing we can do to prepare is is to read and remember what to do during and directly after an earthquake. Here’s a very concise video out of New Zealand, where earthquakes are a little more at the forefront of their mind after the 2011 Christchurch quake:
The uncomfortable reality of living in an earthquake zone is that when it happens, there’s not a lot you personally can do to determine whether or not you die. Getting low and under sturdy furniture, or against internal walls, knowing where you’ll go ahead of time are all you can really hope for. After that, it’s just fate and building codes.