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Earthquake Kits : A GUIDE TO UPDATING EMERGENCY SUPPLIES FOR HOME, WORK AND CAR

Just when you thought it was safe to forget about those granola bars and canned peaches you meant to stock up on following the Northridge earthquake, along comes Earthquake Preparedness Month to remind you it’s time to rotate your emergency supplies.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has designated April as the month to give some thought to those earthquake kits. With a little effort, a survival kit can be started or replenished, usually with supplies already on the shelf.

As those who lived through the Northridge quake learned, even an aftershock can cut off water and electricity and shut down stores. Being prepared for disaster means having an adequate amount of basic supplies on hand at all times where we live, work and commute.

Earthquake preparation is an ongoing project, but needn’t be tedious or painstaking. A rule of thumb is to check or replace supplies when clocks are changed to or from daylight-saving time, twice a year. Replaced food and water need not be wasted--when taken out of an emergency kit, they can simply be put on the shelf for everyday use. And when assembling a survival kit, don’t forget about food and water for pets.

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Information

* The American Red Cross in Ventura provides information and pamphlets and starting June 1 will give free earthquake preparedness presentations to community groups. Also, it sells survival kits for commuters ($45), two person ($85) and four person ($135). Call (805) 339-2234.

* Thomas Associates holds a seminar April 19 in Ventura for apartment owners on “quake-proofing” buildings and pre-earthquake safety tips. Call (805) 644-8990.

AT HOME

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Storing Supplies

Use a large container such as a footlocker or 30-gallon trash can, and label each food and water item with the date of purchase or the last date it should be used. Place the container in a cool, dark place, like the garage, on something to raise it off the ground.

Additional supplies

These are kept separate from the emergency kit in a spot where they can be easily located.

* Extra batteries stored in refrigerator to last longer

* Spare eyeglasses

* Fire extinguisher

* Wrenches to turn off gas and water

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* Alternate cooking methods: barbecue or camping stove (with charcoal, propane or white gas supply)

* Tools: ax, hammer, crowbar, rope

* Tent and sleeping bag

* Work gloves, hard hat

How Much?

Recommendations vary as to the appropriate amount of emergency food and water to store. Many experts advise one gallon of water per person per day for three to seven days. Also store enough food for the same period of time.

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* Batteries, with tester (Shelf life: 6 months)

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* Flashlight

* Portable radio

* First aid kit (Shelf life: 6 months)

* Antibiotic ointment

* Adhesive bandages, gauze and tape

* Aspirin

* Scissors

* Tweezers

* Rubbing alcohol

* Cotton balls

* Instruction booklet

* Extra prescription medications

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* Instant food: cookies, crackers, etc. (Shelf life: 3 months)

* Water (Shelf life: 6 months)

* Water purification tablets

* Manual can opener

* Food and water for pets (Shelf life: 6 months)

* Dry food (pasta, rice) (Shelf life: 1 year)

* Canned food (Shelf life: 1 year)

* Foods with oil may turn rancid over time, so store only non-oily foods like nonfat granola bars and dried fruit.

* In addition to a kit, it’s a good idea to keep extra food on hand in the freezer. Without power, frozen food will keep for three days in an unopened freezer.

* Tap water can be bottled at home by adding eight drops of pure, unscented bleach per gallon of water before storing.

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* Blanket

* Tarpaulin

* Extra clothing, shoes

* Pre-moistened towelettes

* Items for personal hygiene: toilet tissue and heavy-duty plastic bags for disposal

Car kit

* Canned food, manual can opener

* Non-perishable food: Instant nutrition bars, dried fruits, jerky, crackers or cookies

* Bottled water

* Extra clothing

* Sturdy pair of shoes

* Small first-aid kit

* Blanket

* Flashlight, batteries

* Toilet tissue

* Fire extinguisher

* Street maps

Work kit

* Non-perishable food

* Bottled water

* Small first-aid kit

* Flashlight, batteries

* Portable radio and batteries

* Extra clothing

* Sturdy pair of shoes

* Pre-moistened towelettes

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Sources: Los Angeles City Fire Department; Lafferty & Associates Inc.; Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

Researched by JULIE SHEER / Los Angeles Times

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Note: Due to heat, items in car should be checked or replaced three times a year.


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