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Enough supplies for two weeks? Changes to earthquake preparedness

You're going to need to store quite a bit more supplies if you want to be self-sufficient after a major earthquake in Washington.

People are commonly told to stockpile enough resources to last three days in the event of a devastating earthquake. Now, because the state is reportedly not prepared to handle a certain natural disaster, everyone in Western Washington is being asked to have multiple weeks’ worth of food.

The Seattle Times reports Washington’s Emergency Management Division will tell people in the state to store enough food and water (and other resources) to last up to two weeks should a major earthquake strike — which has as much as a 14 percent chance to occur. And that seems to be the minimum.

Earthquake safety checklist

Over on the Olympia Peninsula, people are being told to have enough resources for up to a month.

Prepare for an earthquake

The reason for the increased amount of survival supplies has to do with access.

“The fundamental problem facing responders in the wake of an M9 CSZ [Cascadia Subduction Zone] earthquake is, ‘How do we take care of 3 million people within a day/week?'” an analysis states in the report.

Those 3 million people are the number estimated that will be in need of food and water within the first few days after an earthquake as their home supplies become exhausted. The problem is, according to the report, roads will be blocked by damage, debris, or fallen bridges.

John Vidale, University of Washington professor and director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, says the clock will be ticking toward a humanitarian disaster that FEMA estimates that could occur within 10 days of a major earthquake.

“Because of the severe damage to the power grid, transportation networks, and drinking water facilities, the first order damage from intense shaking, liquefaction, landslides, and large tsunami will lead to second and third order problems of food and water shortages, sanitation issues, heating issues, and other public health and healthcare related issues,” Vidale wrote on the PNSN Facebook page in response to the report.

In other words, expect to be on your own when it comes to sustenance after the “Big One” hits.

But just what will that look like?

FEMA suggests people have a three-day supply of nonperishable food and a three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person, per day). But wait a minute, that’s based on general disaster preparedness and not specific for Washington. People will need to store up to 14 gallons of water per person, if they are reliant on bottled water, according to the latest information from the Times.

If you find yourself without water after an earthquake — especially those thousands of renters who may not be able to store that much water — there are alternatives. The Center for Disease Control says water from your water heater tank is a possible source of water, as are melted ice cubes and liquid from canned fruit and vegetables. Outside your home, consider storing rainwater, or finding and filtering water from a stream, pond, or lake.

Based on all this, those giant buckets of easy-prep meals are starting to look less and less excessive.

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