Nisqually, Washington 2001

It Could Happen To Us: Make A Disaster Kit

Mother Nature’s on a tear, and seismologists say it’s only a matter of time before we feel her vengeance here. Take the edge off any worry with an easy-make General Disaster Kit.

Nisqually, Washington 2001BE PREPARED | Though it looks almost identical to an image we saw on the Internet of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked and tumbled Christchurch in New Zealand recently, the picture shown here was taken just 200 miles south of Vancouver in Nisqually, Washington. It shows the destruction caused in 2001 when a quake with a magnitude of 6.8 ripped through this tiny community south of Seattle, sending tremors hundreds of miles in every direction.

The Pacific Coast is the most earthquake-prone region of Canada. In the offshore region to the west of Vancouver Island, more than 100 earthquakes of magnitude 5 or greater have occurred during the past 70 years. Even offshore earthquakes that don’t affect landmasses can create tsunamis, which is what just happened in Japan.

It takes very little time, effort or investment to put together a basic disaster kit, and having one seems like a no-brainer, though a lot of people never get around to making it happen. For this reason we’ve created our own catastrophe kit with 13 basic items to get you started.

When Catastrophe Calls: Reach For The Basic 13

Practical and portable are the key elements of your kit. Make sure items are organized, easy to find and easy to carry (in a suitcase with wheels or in a backpack) in case you need to evacuate your residence in a hurry. You already have a lot of these items around your house. You just need to store them together in one place near an exit or someplace easily accessible.

• 1. WATER
Four litres of water per person per day for three days. If you decide to store large water jugs, also include small bottles that can be carried easily
• 2. Food
Canned food is best, plus energy bars and dried foods (remember to replace the food and water once a year)
• 3. Candles
Include matches and a lighter in waterproof container
• 5. Knife
A pocket knife or simple solid knife is good enough
• 6. Flashlight & Batteries
Some dollar stores sell mini-crank flashlights
• 7. Radio
Battery-powered or wind-up (and extra batteries)
Basics: tweezers, band aids, antibacterial cream, gauze, aspirin/ibuprofin
• 9. Small Blanket
• 10. Extra SHOES & Clothes
Make sure the soles are solid, you may be walking on broken glass
Prescription meds clearly labelled with dosage instructions, infant formula or equipment for people with disabilities
• 12. Extra Keys
For both car and house
• 13. CASH
Include smaller bills and change for payphones (bank machines and telephones may be out of service)

Smart Extras
• Copy of your passport
• Copy of house insurance policy
• Pet food and extra water for your animals
• Emergency plan—include a copy of it plus in-town and out-of-town contact information
• Dust masks
—Belinda Bruce

If you want more information, the City of Vancouver provides several free and low-cost courses for emergency preparedness through The Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Program (NEPP). CLICK HERE for several short informative videos on their website.

PLEASE HELP: Those who would like to donate to relief efforts in New Zealand can do so through the Canadian Red Cross. Visit

Photo: The 2001 earthquake in Nisqually, Washington

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