This photo from 2013 shows what was placed in the Bardsley family earthquake kit six years ago. (Jennifer Bardsley)

This photo from 2013 shows what was placed in the Bardsley family earthquake kit six years ago. (Jennifer Bardsley)

They’re prepared for ‘the Big One’ with back yard emergency kit

Recent earthquakes in Western Washington reminded this family of four to prepare for the worst.

The last time I stocked our earthquake kit for my family of four was in 2013. Since then, the earthquake barrel has accumulated spiderwebs in an abandoned corner of our back yard.

After multiple earthquakes rocked Western Washington this summer, I decided I better refresh our kit.

The question of whether or not to have an earthquake barrel to begin with has been something my husband and I have long debated. We have enough camping equipment and canned food in our garage to survive for several weeks. Plus there’s our hot water heater. But what would happen if our house collapsed, crushing our supplies?

When we lived in an apartment, we kept earthquake kits in the trunks of our cars. Having an earthquake kit outside of our dwelling seemed like a wise idea. Once we bought a house with a back yard, we bought a trash can with a water-tight lid. Now our earthquake kit was six years old and probably not much use to anyone.

Once I finally mustered up the determination to deal with the problem, I discovered that the barrel was too heavy for me to move — plus it had a patch of potatoes growing around it. I managed to slide the can over a few inches and found potatoes growing underneath the barrel, too! It was time to call for back-up. Once my teenage son joined me, we carried the kit up to the grass in a snap.

Opening the lid to the trash can was like unearthing a time capsule. The first thing I found was a raincoat I brought to college with me. Other spare clothes included a nursing shirt, pants my husband wore in the early 2000s, and knit caps that were too small for either kids.

The ragamuffin wardrobe was questionable, but the barrel contained good stuff, too. There were eight gallons of water, enough freeze-dried food to last three days, emergency blankets, a hand-crank radio, a candle and matches. I also found a painter’s plastic sheet that could have been used for a lot of different things.

Everything in the barrel was dry, but had a musty smell like a stinky basement. I washed the clothes five times so that I could reuse or donate them, and found new items that would fit my kids now, and in the next few years.

When I poured out the bottled water on my rose bushes, I hoped that the neighbors didn’t see me watering the yard with Evian. I cleaned out the can with soap and water and let it dry completely.

Over the next few days, I gathered new supplies for my barrel. I purchased a fresh box of freeze-dried food, eight new gallons of water and a first aid kit. I also added two LifeStraws that could purify water on the go. Then I called upon my son to drag the can back to its spot in the potatoes.

If “the big one” comes, we’ll be ready — but please don’t judge our outfits.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

Photos by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times 

The Jacob and Sarah Ebey House will open to public visitors Memorial Day weekend.
A landmark steeped in 19th century history reopens on Whidbey

Beginning May 28, you can venture inside one of the state’s oldest buildings: The Jacob and Sarah Ebey House, which dates from the 1850s.

Caption: Incorporating frozen vegetables into your menu plan is a fast and cost-effective way to save money on rising food costs.
The secrets of cheap meals: frozen veggies and slow cookers

They not only stretch your food budget, but also timesaving godsends for busy parents. Here are three recipes to try.

What is diverticulitis and what can I do about it?

People older than 40 should have a screening colonoscopy to determine whether they have this intestinal condition, which can lead to serious medical problems.

Cinderella_Red.jpg: Red Riding Hood (Katelynn Carlson) gets advice from Cinderella (Grace Helmcke) in Red Curtain’s production of Into the Woods, running May 20-June 5 at the Red Curtain Arts Center, 9315 State Ave. in Marysville.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Marysville troupe stages a Stephen Sondheim musical masterpiece. Jazz, featuring the sons of legend Dave Brubeck, takes over Edmonds. And there’s this music festival in downtown Everett …

Navigating the rough, often scary seas of a hospital stay

After helping a friend who underwent major surgery, Paul Schoenfeld reflects on ways to cope for patients and their loved ones.

Sam Bowles records the run off the water from a chalk drawing with friend and co-artist, Rhyanna Mercer, Tuesday afternoon in Everett, Washington on May 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jackson High’s global TikTok star is chalk full of ideas

Sam Bowles, 18, uses vibrant videos and social media fame to raise awareness of autism.

I canceled my flight to Frankfurt, but now I can’t use my credit

Melissa Crespo receives a $2,060 ticket credit when she cancels her flights to Frankfurt, Germany. But now her online agency has told her she can only use 25% of the credit at a time. Can it do that?

Lonicera ciliosa, commonly called orange honeysuckle or western trumpet vine. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: orange honeysuckle

Its orange trumpets announce spring is here, and hummingbirds are irresistibly drawn to it.

Home & garden happenings in Snohomish County

The Mill Creek Garden Tour will return this summer after a two-year absence due to COVID-19.

Photo Caption: Would you believe a zipper sold for $18,450 at Morphy Auctions? What about a diamond necklace that looks and works like a zipper?
X-Y-Z spells ‘big money’ with this high-fashion zipper

It’s actually a necklace, but the zipper function works. Someone paid nearly $18,500 for it at a recent auction.

The signature retro VW bus is on display at the Lamb & Co. home decor store Saturday afternoon in Snohomish, Washington on January 8, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
This Snohomish store has the goods from HGTV’s ‘Unsellable House’

Take home the design and decor savvy of hometown real estate twins Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis.

The 2022 Infiniti QX60 Sensory has seating for seven. Heated outboard second-row seats and power-return third-row seats are standard equipment. (Manufacturer photo)
Infiniti QX60 Sensory model doesn’t play second fiddle

The new Autograph version tops the 2022 lineup, but this previous headliner holds its own.