A Bedside Kit

OK, so an earthquake hits, and you get through it. (We’ll cover “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” in a separate blog post next week.) Once the actual shaking stops, there are some things you need to do right away. Will you remember them all, given that you’ll be “all shook up”? I don’t know about you, but I probably won’t. Big earthquakes are scary, and it’s hard to keep your head straight when you’re that stressed. So let’s put together a little kit of what you’ll need.

  1. Post-quake action cardGiven that most of us will be disoriented and momentarily confused, a written list will help a lot. You can write down your own list, or you can just print out the one on this page. For my workshop clients I print it on cardstock and laminate it in plastic, and I suggest you do something similar with yours. If you print two and tape them together back-to-back, then you never have to fumble for the “right side” since both sides will be the same.

  2. Key-light for action cardThe odds are about even that any given earthquake will happen at night. What if the power goes out? You can’t read in the dark, so you’ll want a flashlight. I find a “keychain light” works well for this because they’re small and inexpensive.

  3. Since we have more than one item, we need to hook them together. A “spring clip”, available at any hardware store, works well for this. They even come in multiple colors so you can let your kids pick out their own color.

  4. A spring clipNow that you have a flashlight and a list, you can read the first item: “Check yourself for injuries.” Yes, that really does mean to check yourself before anyone else, because the first rule of being a rescuer is not to become a victim who needs rescuing. When you’re totally stressed and half-crazy with worry about your family you might not even notice that you’re bleeding or have some other injury, so use that flashlight to make sure you’re OK. We’re not talking about a thorough physical exam here, just a quick once-over looking for obvious blood or broken bones is sufficient.

  5. Next it’s time to check your family. You would surely remember to do that without the list, but wait! If it’s late at night and you’re in bed, you’re probably barefoot, and the shaking could easily have scattered broken glass all over your house. Remember that part about “keeping the rescuer safe?” Well, walking around on broken glass in the dark in bare feet is not a good way to do that, so let’s take an old pair of shoes and slip the laces into your spring clip. That way you can put something on your feet while you check the rest of your family.

  6. Components of a bedside kitIf the quake was really bad, there may be fallen debris that you have to move to reach everyone you need to get to. Debris is also sharp, so add a pair of work gloves to that spring clip. I find that a heavy-duty binder clip is a good way to attach them. Any gloves are better than none, but I recommend something heavy enough to protect your hands from sharp edges and splinters.

  7. Bedside kit attached to a bedNow we have to decide where to keep our kit. Right next to the bed is generally the best spot, because then it’s right next to you if you need it in the middle of the night when your mind is fuzzy. If the quake occurs when you’re not in bed, then you probably have something on your feet already and it’s easy to remember where your kit is.

  8. One last thing: strong shaking can make objects and even furniture dance across a room. If your bed dances north and your kit dances south, it’s going to be hard to find it in the dark under a mess of fallen objects. There is an obvious solution to this: Tie it to the bed. The simplest way is to use a long electrical wire-tie (be sure to get a re-usable one so you can easily remove and replace the kit when you are cleaning), but you can go crazy if you want to and make a yarn or fabric tie that color-coordinates with your bedspreads, put the whole thing in a decorated shoebox, or whatever you like.

This can serve as a nice starter project for your earthquake preparations; big enough so you’ll feel that you’ve accomplished something worthwhile, but not so big that it’s too intimidating to even get moving on it. The 3-day Labor Day weekend even provides a little extra time to get started. If you decide to assemble one or more of these, I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

On the other hand, if you’re like many of us your schedule on weekends is as full as it is during the week, and it does take some time to either make or locate and purchase all the components. Although putting one of these together yourself isn’t exactly rocket science, most people never get it done because they’re just too busy. If that’s your situation, there is still hope: South Bay Safety Guy makes up these kits for our workshop clients, and if there is enough interest I could also assemble and offer them mail-order for about $20 each plus shipping. You supply your own shoes, but the kits include decent quality leather-palm gloves with a choice of sizes, like those shown in the photos. Please post a comment with your thoughts if you’d be interested.