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Since we live in California, it’s important to be ready for an earthquake. But most of our teen staff said their families weren’t. If you’re not ready, see our list for what you should put in your earthquake kit.

Yes, we’re ready

The earthquake in Chino two years ago was five miles from where I live. One of my mom’s vases broke. That’s when we started thinking about it. We said we have to be prepared or else we’ll suffer. Now we have a box set aside. It’s in the corner of the house so if anything falls, it won’t affect it. There’s canned food for three weeks, water, for warmth there are blankets, flashlights, a first-aid kit and a crank radio. My dad said a radio is important if cell phones and the Internet go down. And I have a book in there. If we’re in different rooms we’re going to meet in the dining room and get under our big stainless steel dining table.
Jerry Qin, 16, Walnut HS

On July 29, 2008, we were lounging around the house when suddenly the walls started to shake. I was calm but my sister, who was 11 at the time, screamed, grabbed onto my arm and started trembling.
lllllAfter that, I took the initiative and got my family prepared. I wanted my little sister to feel safe but since I can’t control earthquakes, being prepared for one is the best I can do. My parents agreed that we should make an earthquake kit. I found an earthquake preparedness checklist on the Internet. We had a lot of the items already, so all we had to do was round them up.

lllllWe keep our kit in a box in the garage. It includes a first-aid kit, water, canned food, ponchos, flashlights, batteries and clothes. We also have a safe containing all of our important documents. Making sure documents like passports, medical records and social security cards are safe is important because having them would make it easier to get our lives back to normal after a disaster.
lllllAfter getting the kit together, my sister and I feel safer. Hopefully we’ll never need to use it, but we have it just in case.
Kristy Plaza, 16, Duarte HS


No, we’re not

I wish we were more prepared. My mom always tells us to make sure our room is clean and make sure there are shoes by the bed. If an earthquake hits, we can put on our shoes without the trouble of looking for them or tripping over things on our way out. We don’t have a first-aid kit at home. I think we should have one. There’s no bottled water or emergency food. Lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot. They say we’re going to have a big one. We should be prepared.
Patricia Chavarria, 19

If a huge earthquake hits, we’d be screwed. My family has no clue what to do during an earthquake. When there’s an earthquake, my mom yells out “Come downstairs!” I think, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to move right now.” We have a few things for an emergency, but they’re scattered around, like Band-Aids in a drawer and canned food in the cupboards. We don’t have any emergency numbers memorized and we don’t have any relatives or friends near us so we would have no one to rely on in an emergency. I would love to be prepared.
Jose Zacarias, 17, Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Magnet HS

I’m a Red Cross youth member and it’s sad that I’m not prepared. They teach us so we can go around telling people “this is what you need” but I don’t have any of those things. We have a first-aid kit but that’s it. My family never gets together to plan things out.
Victor Beteta, 17, University HS

I told my mom we have to get an earthquake kit. She said, “We’re prepared. We have food.” But we don’t have a plan, a place where we can meet. We don’t have water. She’s like “we’re fine.” I kind of don’t think about it, it’s like oh well.
Amy Fan, 16, Temple City HS

I’m originally from Florida and that’s the hurricane state. We just have our old hurricane kit, which is not the same thing at all. There’s rain gear in it. When there was a small earthquake this summer my family was the only one freaking out. I think people don’t think of getting prepared because the Northridge earthquake was so long ago.
Yejean Kim, 17, Arcadia HS

We’re not prepared at all. We don’t have extra anything. I never think about it.
Christian Santiago, 17, University HS

I come from a country that is filled with earthquakes, Chile, so we have a series of plans. We have an earthquake kit inside the house and inside the car. In the kit we have water, crackers, canned food, a bucket in case the bathrooms don’t work, toilet paper, blankets, flashlights and a first-aid kit. We’re going to meet at a park that’s six blocks away.
Frankie Wieden, 16, California Virtual Academy

I don’t think my parents care. Even though when there’s an earthquake I’m always thinking, this is the big one. The house is coming down.
Jacky Garcia, 17, Lynwood HS

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How to get ready

Build your own kit

These are the basic items that you should have in your earthquake kit:

• One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
• A three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and extra batteries
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First-aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust mask to help filter contaminated air; plastic sheeting and duct tape
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Can openerLocal maps
• Cell phone with chargers or solar charger

To see a list of additional items you may want in your kit, go to

Make a plan

Find out how to make an earthquake plan with your family at


To read L.A. Youth’s previous coverage of disaster preparedness, please go to:

Getting ready for earthquakes. Last summer’s earthquake made 15-year-old Stephany’s family realize that they need to be prepared. (May – June 2009)

What to do in an earthquake: an interview with an expert. Katherine, 15, interviews a coordinator from the L.A. City Emergency Preparedness Department about what to do in an earthquake. (October 2004)