By Andrew Crosby

Over the past couple of months Southern Californians have been reminded of a very significant naturally occurring event — earthquakes. Yes, those small reminders waking SoCal residents in the early morning hours or in the middle of our work days. While constantly being ready for something like an earthquake isn’t practical, preparing for the next “big one” is.

Living in Southern California, specifically San Diego, is the envy of many across the country, especially when considering current weather conditions. However, most of us forget what lies under our feet. The San Andreas Fault covers most of the state of California and cuts through some major metropolitan areas; fortunately it misses San Diego by a fairly large distance, but that’s not to say we aren’t subject to tremors. There are a number of smaller faults in the San Diego area not only on land, but also off the coast that can cause major damage with almost no warning. That’s where these next few tips come into play. Being prepared for something as potentially devastating as a major earthquake can be what separates survivors from those who don’t.

Damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Photo courtesy California Department of Emergency Services
Damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Photo courtesy California Department of Emergency Services

The following is a checklist of the top five things you’ll need for you and your family to prepare for the next big earthquake:


Have plenty of bottled water on hand for each member of your family. That includes pets! Water is by far more crucial than food to have in an emergency situation. You can live longer without food than you can without water. According to, it’s recommended to have stored one gallon of fresh water per person, per day in an emergency situation (three days per person). Water, especially when stored in plastic can begin to taste different or go bad. Regularly change out your water supplies, so it’s always fresh and safe. Living in San Diego we don’t have to worry about this as much, but those living in warm climates should have extra water as well as those who are nursing or pregnant. Also keep in mind that you’ll need water to bathe and sanitize in the event that your main water supply is down.


This doesn’t mean having a big stock of your favorite candy and baked goods, as good as that sounds. Having food that can sustain you is going to be the difference between going hungry and not. Easily consumed, non-perishable foods, with a long shelf life like nuts, jerky, powdered eggs, protein bars, and even pre-packaged emergency food kits are going to go further than your favorite junk food.

Generator and Fuel

Having a generator or alternate power source available when the power goes out is almost as important as food and water. Powering your entire house isn’t really what’s crucial, rather generators can keep the fridge going for a few more days or maybe power a TV to keep you and your family informed. As important as having a generator is, without a fuel supply it won’t be of any use. It is common for owners of generators to go weeks, months, even years, without using them. Inevitably, the old gas that was in the generator’s fuel tank goes bad, either evaporating or absorbing atmospheric moisture, rendering the equipment inoperable or unreliable. One solution is to keep a supply of engineered ethanol-free fuel on hand, such as TruFuel. Available at local home improvement centers, engineered fuels are a new option that are available in convenient one quart containers and have an unopened shelf-life of about five years or two years when opened – perfect for emergency preparedness. This type of fuel is also available for two-stroke motors, already pre-mixed and ready to power other special power equipment needed during disasters such as chainsaws and pumps.

Emergency Kits

Planning for the worst, as grim as it sounds, will help keep you and your family safe in the event of an emergency situation. Being over prepared is always better than being underprepared, so having either a store-bought or self-made emergency kit for each member of your family is a great way to prepare for any situation. This might include additional water and food; blankets, flashlights, a crank radio, first aid kit, extra phone chargers and more. Prepare and store one for each member of your family under their bed or on the way out of the house so it’s easily available in the event of an earthquake.

Emergency Lights

Have you ever tried to maneuver through your house in complete darkness? Not only is it impossible to see, it’s unsafe. Having flashlights and other, more permanent, emergency lights in every main room of your house can be a matter of finding your way out in an emergency or running into every stationary object. In the event of an earthquake or power outage, emergency lights go on automatically and provide you and your family light in the middle of the night. Emergency lights can be found at most home improvement stores.

Andrew Crosby is the Director of Disaster Response for TruFuel, a specialty manufacturer of ethanol-free engineered fuels for a variety of small displacement two and four-stroke engines.