Tips for Storing Food in Earthquake Areas

I live in Utah and since as long as I can remember it was understood that someday there would be “the BIG one” meaning a gigantic earthquake.  I have already survived an earthquake (okay, it was the Northridge earthquake and I was far enough away that it made the doors creak and made our waterbed slosh around-I’m dating myself, aren’t I).  It was an unsettling experience and I came to the realization that our beautiful earth is a living, moving planet.  If it were not so there would be nothing living on the planet, including us.

With this in mind I have been working on ways to store my food and preparations so they’ll hopefully last through “the BIG one”.  A violent shaking can throw goods off of shelves shattering bottles; the seal on metal cans can be compromised and even explode if dropped just right.  Not only will we have the loss of our preparations and hard work but the mess will be dangerous to maneuver (think broken bottles)  and don’t forget about attracting rodents and the problems they bring.  Another consideration would be sacrificing water stores to clean up the mess to prevent other problems.

Ok, enough scary talk.  Here are some ideas that came to me.


To start off-whatever shelving you have should be secured to the wall.  If you have free standing shelves secure them to wall studs or the foundation so the whole thing doesn’t tip over.  Add a bar, preferably removable, across the front to keep stuff from sliding off the shelves.  Here is what we did:

shelves            brace bracket

Depending on what your shelves are made of you may have to be creative.  These are the brackets my husband and boys made.  The 1 x 2 slides down into the bracket and hopefully keeps stuff on the shelves


Keep #10 cans in the box they came in and clearly label it.  If you don’t have boxes try a grocery store or Costco or if you are lucky enough to live by a working LDS Drypack Cannery you can purchase boxes from there for .95 cents.  Instead of stacking them on top of each other place them on their sides so the top one doesn’t slide off, like this.

#10 cans

For smaller cans like veggies or tomato sauce buy at a case lot sale (my favorite thing) and keep it in the box or shrink wrap.  When using, keep the shrink wrap in place and make just a big enough hole to get out what you need or place another box on top to act like a lid to keep them in place, like this.

can lids

You can also place similar things in a box.  My husband likes liquor boxes because they are sturdy.  My brother-in-law mentioned how thorough we were to have a years supply of liquor, too (kidding).  There are beans in there, honest.  Another option is to use grocery bags tied off.  The whole point here is to keep the items together in a big enough package so they are held in by the bracket so be resourceful and use what works for you.  I’ll be the first to admit it is more work to get at your food stores but I feel it is worth it.

boxed cans          bagged cans


It is really not enough to have your bottles secured on a shelf behind a brace.  They may stay on the shelf but the real damage comes when they knock into each other.  Some home canners keep their jars in the original boxes, the older ones which were actual boxes with dividers.  That little piece of dividing cardboard may not be enough in a really big quake.  I wrapped my bottles in packing paper and newspaper or whatever I could find and put them in tubs, like this.

quart jar tub          pint bottles

On the left are quarts.  I filled in extra space with grocery bags or whatever I had handy.  Take a quart jar to the store with you to find a tub that will fit.  I had to work to get the lid on, but it went on.  On the right are pints.  This is a larger tub and therefore will be heavier, just fill it where you are storing it to avoid heavy lifting.  This size fit more jars  for my buck, I can see inside it and as an added bonus fit under my bed nicely.

It was a bit of an expense, but a one time expense that not only can save my food storage, but also contain the mess should there be breakage.  My family is trained so when a bottle is removed it is replaced by an empty one to keep things snug in there.  This does actually work because a tub slipped and fell and nothing broke :).

Other Stuff

Creating tubs for other things such as, medical, hygiene,  sanitation, etc. can not only make you appear organized but keep the items clean and easy to find.  Should you have to dig out your house from a natural disaster you may find your preparations still clean and usable if sealed in a tub.

Please leave a comment if you have more ideas!

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One Response to Tips for Storing Food in Earthquake Areas

  1. Pingback: Organizing Food Storage | Super Prepared

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