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5 household items to have on hand in case of an earthquake

The Big One is coming. But it's not too late to get prepared.

5 household items to have on hand in case of an earthquake

If you haven't heard already, the Big One is coming.

We hear about earthquakes all the time, but we often associate them with blockbuster movies or faraway places like Japan and Nepal and Haiti.


A destroyed building near Kathmandu after an earthquake in Nepal. Photo by Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images.

But the United States is due for a major earthquake of its own.

And despite what every disaster movie wants you to think, that earthquake probably won't happen here:

Because it's much more likely to happen here:

Seattle.

The Big One is set to hit the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a region stretching from Canada to Northern California, and by all estimations it's going to be a doozy.


But even if you don't live in the Pacific Northwest, there are seismic zones across the country that are due for a quake, including the New Madrid zone located across Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Illinois, and yes — OK, Hollywood darling — San Andreas.

While earthquakes aren't preventable, they are survivable, and one of the best ways to prepare is to create an earthquake kit.

And what goes into a good earthquake kit aside from a life-sized Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson inflatable rescue doll?

If you don't have the time or space to collect everything, here are five items you should be sure to pull together to help you survive for up to two weeks.

1. Water. The stuff of life. You knew it had to make the list, right?

The U.S. government natural disaster preparation site Ready suggests stocking your kit with one gallon of water per person per day. Kids and nursing moms may need a little more.

That may sound like a lot, but water isn't just for drinking, it's for sanitation, cooking, and first aid. You can survive without food for quite some time, but you won't make it long without clean water.

This is not an area you want to skimp on.

Photo (altered) by dotjay/Flickr.

2. Food. Consider this an excuse to stock up on all of your favorite canned goods. I see you, Campbell's Chicken and Stars.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests stocking your kit with canned and packaged goods that you regularly eat.

This saves you a special trip to the grocery store and may prevent future intestinal distress. Be mindful of expiration dates and swap out the food as it starts to go bad.

And of course, don't forget utensils and a can opener. You can eat with your hands if needed, but a can opener is key.

Photo (altered) by F Delventhal/Flickr.

3. A first-aid kit. Yes, a kit within a kit. Not to be confused with the Swedish folk group, First Aid Kit, but their soothing sounds can't hurt to include, either.

In addition to the usual Band-Aids and alcohol wipes, the Los Angeles Times suggests storing extra essential medications or eyeglasses in your kit.

Photo (altered) by Medisave UK/Flickr.

Don't forget tweezers. Splinters will definitely be a part of your post-earthquake reality.

4. A phone charger. Because the only thing scarier than an earthquake is your mom when she can't get a hold of you.

If your area maintains cell service, your phone will be your lifeline to friends and family. Keep a spare charger in your kit, or better yet, purchase a portable or solar charger.

Solar power was vital to regaining telecommunication after the Nepal earthquake last April. Nearly 24% of Nepal's citizens lost power, but solar-power stations helped restore a sense of normalcy. We should all take a page out of Nepal's playbook and have solar solutions at the ready in case of emergency.

A solar-powered charger. Photo (altered) by Mark Guim/Flickr.

5. Toilet paper. You are worth it. Pack. The. TP.

It will be frightening and desolate after the big one. Treat yourself to the comforts of two-ply.

Photo (altered) by Chris Waits/Flickr.

For other items to include in your emergency kit, watch Ali Ryan, earth science information officer, unbox her supplies in this video from The Oregonian:

Wherever you live, but especially if you live near a seismic zone, take some time to pull an emergency kit together, and store it away for a rumbly day.

You'll be glad you did.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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