How to prepare for the next big California earthquake

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Northern California Tuesday, killing two people and leaving thousands more without power. What happened up north Tuesday could easily happen in Southern California as well. The 1994 Northridge quake was a magnitude 6.7, and killed nearly 60 and caused billions of dollars in damages.

In a nondescript Simi Valley warehouse — which got a powerful jolt from that 1994 quake — it's all about earthquake preparedness.

Ten years ago, James Shea decided to get into the earthquake supply business. Shea, who owns, learned about all the proper things one should have in an earthquake kit. Even not so common things like a whistle that could save you if you're trapped.

RELATED: Northern California earthquake leaves 2 dead, buckles road, causes damage and injury

"If you’re trapped somewhere, you can’t scream forever," said Shea. "So, it’s much louder. You can attract attention."

His warehouse is lined with plastic bins, lined with such things as hand sanitizer, water purification tablets, pocket knives, rope, mylar blankets, gloves and so much more.

Robert DeGroot with the US Geological Survey said it’s not just having supplies that's required for good preparation. "It’s also having the mindset that we live in earthquake country," DeGroot said. And, that means when the ground shakes, like it did in Northern California Tuesday, it's important to have a communication plan. That plan should include someone out-of-state who can serve as a point person for the whole extended family to check in with to say "We’re okay."

"Everyone should practice what they should do," DeGroot said. "Everything from duck and cover. That’s why we have the Great Shakeout. That’s why we have drills in school. That’s why organizations are making investments in earthquake early warning." There are even shake-apps you can download. 

Back at the Simi Valley warehouse, Shea recommends having a three-day supply of water. "Everybody should really have one gallon per person per day," he said. 

He also says it's important to have a radio, a flashlight and batteries.

For DeGroot, it's not a matter of if, "... but when the next big earthquake is going to happen."

More information about Shea's earthquake kits can be found at