My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

6.9 Wake-up Call. Am I Really Ready?


I went to bed super early last night, because I have been burning the candle at both ends for over a month, and I was EXHAUSTED!  When I woke up bright and early this morning, I checked the news and read that there had been a 6.9 earthquake off the California shore.  The first thing I thought was “I’ve never slept through an earthquake before.  I MUST have been tired.”  However, I soon discovered that it was off the coast of Northern CA.  I live in Southern CA.

Southern California, the mecca of earthquakes in the USA (or at least one of them).  I have never experienced a major earthquake, but I have quite a few friends who have.  They told me that after the Northridge quake, it was so dark that they could not see anything!  Nothing at all!  There was absolutely no light.  In a major city or suburb, that’s saying something.  Then, there was the problem with water.  There wasn’t any.  If you were lucky enough to have something come out of your taps, it wasn’t safe to drink or use to wash your dishes or your clothes or your bodies, or to do anything with it.

So, no earthquake here last night, but it got me thinking.  Am I ready?  Like really, truly, 100% ready?

Growing up, I repeatedly said that I would NEVER live in California, because there are earthquakes in California.  I much preferred my DC area thunderstorms. We really didn’t get many tornadoes or hurricanes or earthquakes.  Of course, within a couple of weeks after flying home from our “Outer Banks Beach Bash” family reunion, Richmond, VA was hit with an earthquake, a hurricane, and a small tornado or two (if there is such a thing as a “small” tornado).  So, I guess even the east coast isn’t safe from natural disasters.

Back to my original point, earthquakes freak me out just a little bit.  I have 72 hour kits , but there’s more to earthquake preparedness than just having a 72-hr kit.  Today, I’m assessing my readiness, and you get to do it along with me.  Isn’t that fun?

1.  Shoes and flashlight by the bed? – Why?  One of the most common injuries after an earthquake is not falling debris, it’s glass.  Glass breaks during an earthquake.  Stuff falls off of shelves, pictures fall off of walls, windows break, etc.  You get the idea.  If you’re walking around barefoot after an earthquake, you’re going to get hurt.  So, I keep my walking shoes next to my bed.

Right next to my bed.

Right next to my bed.

And a flashlight in my nightstand.

Flashlight in my nightstand.

Flashlight in my nightstand.

My nightstand could fall over, so I have back-up lights in a few strategic locations throughout my house.

Emergency lights.

Emergency lights.  These babies turn on automatically in the event my power goes out.  They’ve been handy in quite a few situations so far and none of those have been an earthquake.

2.  72 hour kits current?  – Yes.  I replaced the water a few months ago, replaced the food bars, and checked the batteries in my flashlights.  They’re also in a place I can grab them and go if I need to.

72 hour kit

72 hour kit

Inside the 72-hr kit.

Inside the 72-hr kit.

I have extra water bottles in the same closet and some 55 and 30 gallon water barrels (filled with water) just in case.

My water barrels.  See my BBQ in the background?

My water barrels. Want to know more about water storage?  Check out my blog post here.
(See my BBQ in the background? It’s a great back-up cooking option.)

3.  72 hour kits in cars?  – Yes, mostly.  My husband has a comprehensive 72 hour kit in the back of his car, because he works pretty far from home.  If there’s a serious earthquake, he may need to walk home or shelter in place for a couple of days.  His kit includes a small tent, emergency sleeping bag, radio, flashlight, food, water, and a basic first aid kit. Sorry, he left before I thought to take a picture of the back of his car, but it looks just like our home emergency kits.

Emergency Food Bars.  I have some in the house and some in cars.  If you want to win some, click here!

Emergency Food Bars. I have some in the house and some in cars. If you want to win some, click here!

I drive two different cars.  In one of them, I have a case of water, emergency food bars, and a flashlight.

My food bars and my water.  The flashlight is in the glovebox.

My food bars and my water. The flashlight is in the glovebox.

In the other, I just have water and a flashlight (in the glovebox).  I also have a multi-tool in the glovebox.  I need to get food for that car as well.

See?  Only water.  I need to add some food.

See? Only water. I need to add some food.

4.  Gas in my car? – YES!  I have at least a 1/2 tank of gas in both the cars I drive (and I’m pretty sure my husband does for now).  Do I always keep my cars above a half a tank of gas?  No, but I should.  If there’s a big earthquake, the gas stations are closed until they are inspected for safety.   So, if I don’t have gas, I won’t be able to drive anywhere.

5.  Cash on hand? – YES!  At least some.  We keep a little cash on hand (small bills as there may not be change available) just in case of an earthquake or other emergency.  If there’s a big earthquake, there’s often no electricity and phone lines are down.  That means no ATMs working, no point-of-sale credit card purchases.  Cash is king in emergencies.  And there are other times you may need cash.  What if there’s a power outage in your area?  You won’t be able to use your credit or debit card then either.

6.  Extra food, water, and other necessities beyond the 72 hour mark? – YES!  I have enough food and water to last a little while and to share some with my neighbors if they don’t have enough.

Extra food.

Extra food.

I also have a couple of tents, better sleeping bags, and some lanterns in case we need to evacuate our home and want to stay onsite.

Sleeping Bags, Tents, Tarps, Sleeping Mats, and Coolers.

Sleeping Bags, Tents, Tarps, Sleeping Mats, and Coolers.

WHY do I need food beyond the 72 hour mark?  If it’s a big enough earthquake (or storm or anything), it will take more than 3 days for things to go back to normal.  It will likely take more than 3 days for rescuers (government, non-profit, etc.) to arrive with help (food, water, etc.).

Don’t believe me?  Think Hurricane Katrina and the people starving in the Superdome.  Think West Virginia Chemical Spill affecting their water more than 30 days after the chemical spill.  Think my parent’s neighborhood after a storm last year.  The trees brought down power lines, and they didn’t have power for a week in the middle of the summer.  No power = no light.  Unless you have some of these babies.

Oil lanterns.   I cannot use these immediately after an earthquake (possible broken gas lines), but I can use these in a power outage, and they add a homey feeling.

Oil lanterns.
I cannot use these immediately after an earthquake (possible broken gas lines), but I can use these in a power outage situation.

7.  A way to cook food if my stove/oven/microwave are unavailable? – A Partial YES!  I have a camp stove, a BBQ, and a George Foreman propane powered grill with extra fuel  (propane and charcoal) for all three, but if they’re a no go if there’s a big earthquake.

George Foreman Outdoor Propane Powered Grill

George Foreman Outdoor Propane Powered Grill

In a big earthquake, gas lines break.  Broken gas lines = no lighting fires or matches.  If I light a fire or a match anywhere near a broken gas line, there will be disastrous consequences beyond the earthquake itself.  So, I will be okay with cooking, once it is confirmed that there are no broken gas lines.

Extra Propane, sleeping bags, tents, camp stove, battery powered lanterns, and cooking pots.

Extra Propane, sleeping bags, tents, camp stove, battery powered lanterns, and cooking pots.

If I can’t light a fire, I have my emergency food bars.  They are ready to eat as is.  They won’t be particularly satisfying, but they are safe to eat and will provide for my basic needs.  I also have some “just add water” meals.  I can add hot water, and let them sit.  Of course, I need to find a way to heat my water.

Just add water meals.

Just add water meals.

My son, AJ, just assured me that he knows how to make a solar oven.  (Thank you, Boy Scouts!)  I’ll put him to work asap, so I have that BEFORE the big one hits.  Or there are solar ovens you can buy online.  I’ve been thinking about adding one to my emergency prep stuff, so I’ll get on that.

8.  Safety latches on cupboards? – No!  I don’t have these.  If there’s an earthquake, all my stuff in my cupboards will end up all over my floor.  Think broken glass, broken dishes, and food all over the kitchen.  YAY!  Not.  I have thought about getting something, but I haven’t yet.  I’ve read that I can use a heavy duty rubber band.  I’m not sure they’re the best solution, but they’ll do the job until I can get something better.

9.  Hot water heater strapped? – YES!  It was done when I bought the house, because it’s required for code, but it’s done, and I still get credit for it!

Hot Water Heater

Hot Water Heater

10.  Furniture strapped to walls? – No!  I need to get on this one.  Tall bookshelves can fall over in an earthquake, and hurt someone.  We don’t have a ton of tall furniture, but I really need to get some straps, and strap them to the wall.

Please understand that this is not an exhaustive list of everything I can do to prepare for an earthquake, but it’s a start.  It’s a good start. 

How about you?  What emergencies are you likely to face in your area? Power outages?  Hurricanes?  Contaminated water?

Are you ready?  What can you do to be more prepared?  Do you have food, water, a tent, sleeping bags, or a generator?

Emergencies happen.  I want all of my family and friends (Real and Internet) to be prepared and safe.  So, please take a moment today, or within the next week, and assess your readiness.  You don’t have to do everything today, but you can do something. 


Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, Have a question about Food Storage? Email me:

19 thoughts on “6.9 Wake-up Call. Am I Really Ready?

  1. My kids each have a 72 hour backpack (Thanks, Grandma!!), but my husband and I don’t (guess we know who my mom loves the most). 🙂 I need to work on that.

    The one thing I hadn’t even thought about (aside from no matches or flames in the event of an earthquake) was having cash on hand. I NEVER have cash. I use my debit card for practically everything. I would really be in a jam if I couldn’t use my cards or get cash out of an ATM. Thank you SO MUCH for bringing that to my attention. I guess I should put some cash in each of the 72 hour packs, in addition to having some elsewhere in the house. Thanks for the tip, Laurie!


    • I’m happy to help! I hadn’t thought of that one either until I was at a RS activity about food storage. They listed cash as one of the most important items. I hadn’t thought of it either.


  2. We’ve been working on our supplies for a couple of years. Still don’t feel anywhere close to being “prepared!” I am very grateful you are okay.


  3. What a list! Our threat is fires and we need a fleeing kit. Would add passports or photo id and car phone charger to the list.


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  5. Thanks for sharing. I have a small stash but compared to yours, its nothing.


  6. Wow! Way to be prepared!


  7. You, seriously out me to shame. But thank you for your comprehensive list. I will use it to aspire to!


  8. Laurie, great list. Be sure to include important documents, a list of important phone numbers, and a communications plan for the family. In the house, you also want to make sure nothing is hanging above your beds. I used to live in Alaska and also in California – I am glad to be where the ground (mostly) holds still!


  9. Don’t forget supplies for your pets. 🙂


  10. sounds extreme but that is what you guys need. I’m in South Africa.. we don’t really know what a natural disaster feels like. Up north they recently experienced an earthquake, but that’s the first one we ever heard of.


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  15. Nice suggestions! I live in Arizona, where almost nothing ever happens here, but I have most of what’s on your list. Fortunately, we go camping year round, and even more with the boy scouts, so all of our outdoor gear is always ready to go. I updated our 2 72-hours kits a few months ago. I moved my 1-year food supply the other day because I’m moving and I discovered that a 6 gallon bucket of powedered milk has a much shorter shelf life than my 20 year shelf life food, so that’s expired. My Dantrex and mainstay bars are also expired and some critter got to a case of my MREs (Meals Ready To Eat). Looks like it’s time for a closer evaluation. You’re never done preparing 🙂 Something I learned a few years ago about cooking your food storage; many recipes require milk. Milk isn’t handy, so if this item is not already in your arsenal, you need at least (1) 6 gallon bucket of powdered milk. The other thing I invested in was learning how to garden. I’m about 70% successful with it on my first 3 years of gardening. Gardening in Phoenix is a real challenge, but some crops really like the heat. Consider investing in just one #10 can of heirloom garden seeds. These seeds are not hybrids, so you may be able to harvest seeds from whatever you yield. You can just throw that can of seeds into the freezer and call it a day. I also briefly learned to can peaches the hard way because I don’t have special pressure cookers. It was easier than I thought, but I need more practice. The advantage is that I could can over a campfire if I wanted to. Our boy scouts learned to make ovens out of cardboard and aluminum foil, so that’s a nice skill to have. You reminded me that I definately need to rebuilding my car kit, which has been tapped into a lot, so it’s worthless now.


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