A New Earthquake Kit: Very Clever And Also A Little Twee

Lunar reimagines the way we can get ready for the Big One.

I live in San Francisco, and many nights–after getting into bed, before falling asleep–the same thought pops into my head: What will I do if the world starts shaking wildly in the dark? I conclude I will run into the backyard. I often put pants on, just in case. Then I drift off, and my master plan dissipates by the time the sun comes up. Apart from a jug of water stashed under my sink, that’s about as far as I’ve thought things through and, as it turns out, I’m not the only one who is largely ill-equipped to handle the reality of the Bay Area’s next Big One; apparently only about a third of residents here are actively prepared for what to do before, during, and after a major trembler.


In order to increase awareness and potentially spark a sea change in people’s attitudes toward and actions revolving around getting ready, Lunar Design–in collaboration with the SF Department of Emergency Management and the American Institute of Architects–created SF Prep, a prototype system that transforms the traditional earthquake kit into a subscription service that takes the guesswork out of confronting Mother Nature when she’s angry (you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry).

In the proposal that targets Gen Y-ers (ahem), a easily navigable site will allow users to sign up, then select a series of “need” goods–think flashlights, fire extinguisher, water–and “want” add-ons, like well-known nerve-calmers chocolate and gin. Local businesses are looped in, offering tasty options like Tcho chocolate or Clif bars instead of the pretty dire fare found in most emergency kits. From there, boxes containing one thing from each list, along with a “do-card” that details a manageable task to bite the bullet and just get done; this could be anything from filling out an in-case-of-emergency list of contacts, to grabbing some cash to stow away. These packages will be sent once a month for five months, then continue with reminders to eat any perishables from previous installments.

The structure would be relatively simple to gamify in social media, and gifting subscriptions would likely be a big seller–with parents, if no one else. Plus, by making the process of getting everything in order feel more like online shopping (fun!) than steeling yourself for the inevitable apocalypse (boo!), Lunar’s plan eliminates the fear factor that is one of the main obstacles keeping folks from facing the intimidating, and largely unknown, repercussions of a natural disaster, and could be adapted to suit different regions around the country, and world.

As of now, it’s just a concept, but it seems there’s potential for someone out there to take the idea and make it a reality.