building a sustainable and resilient community

Living on a giant crusty earthen raft

Posted on | March 4, 2010 | 1 Comment

So, there’s been a lot of earthquakes lately.  Haiti back in January; Chile, last weekend; Japan, back in February; California, constantly for about the past month; and Taiwan yesterday.   I know many scientists will say “these events are not related”, but, as I reminded my friends yesterday, people act like we don’t live on a giant crusty earthen raft that’s simply floating on one mass of molten magma.  And just to clarify:  we DO live ON the earth’s crust, which simply floats on a layer of super-hot molten magma, which surrounds an even hotter core at the center of the Earth.   It’s easy to forget that this is science, not magic, especially when many people try to dilute or flat out deny other aspects of what we know about the world, like global climate change or evolution.

But I digress.  I firmly believe that the Earth is one mega-giant geophysical system and so I’m predisposed to think that movement in the Earth’s crust in one area is likely to affect movement in the crust in another area.  Maybe this is the case, maybe not.  But, like it or not, there are fault lines all over this planet, and a very good number of us live in an area that would be affected by seismic activity.  Including myself, living in the Pacific Northwest, with the Cascadia subduction zone, where “the seismic clock is ticking.”

Which is why I’ve finally decided to take the creation of my earthquake kit very seriously.  Observe:

The beginnings of my earthquake kit - old clothes and lots of coffee

Having never put together an earthquake kit before (despite living in Los Angeles for two years), I looked up how to make a proper preparedness kit on the internets.  I found one, appropriately, on the site for the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate. It includes a lot of head-scratching items, like a small fire extinguisher and sunglasses, but for the most part it is all super valuable stuff that would be useful in the event of a catastrophic earthquake.

*I*, on the other hand, am preparing a bag that would in theory allow me to survive for a day or so trapped underground OR allow me to get out, get on my bike, and go find other people.  It will include important stuff like a super-cool solar-powered/hand-crank radio and LED flashlight, as well as a first aid kit, rain gear, a warm jacket, matches and extra food.  I have, however, taken some liberties from the SFGate site – for instance, they say to include bleach, which I get, but I’m trying to come up with something portable, thus the little bleach pen (good in a pinch, literally).  Also note the copious amounts of coffee; hey, I have a portable French Press, might as well put it to good use!

All in all, my earthquake kit is stocked with things I have but don’t use on a regular basis, but still don’t want to get rid of.  I’m finding that this is not only a great way to get prepared for an earthquake but also an in-house recycling exercise.  Being aware of how you use and perhaps waste products in your home is as integral to living more lightly on the earth as realizing that you live on a giant rock that is subjected to forces of geophysics beyond our control.

Do you have any suggestions for putting together an earthquake preparedness kit?  Post them here!



One Response to “Living on a giant crusty earthen raft”

  1. mike
    March 7th, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

    i’m pretty sure the bleach is for disinfecting water… so the bleach pen might not be ideal.

    other things:
    we have a meeting point for some of our friends (safety in numbers, many hands make light work, etc). if you end up doing this, find a route that doesn’t involve crossing bridges.

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