A simple crescent wrench should do the job. If you want a dedicated tool, Wirecutter recommends this gas valve shut-off tool, which was created by San Francisco firefighters in the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake specifically for this purpose.
Once you have the wrench, learn how to use it. Find your gas shut-off valve, preadjust the tool (if you’re using a crescent wrench), and store it right there so you don’t have to look for it when you need it.
An emergency radio
An emergency radio is worth the investment. It can get reception not only from AM and FM bands, but also from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), commonly referred to as the weather bands. NOAA is a reliable source of emergency information after a major catastrophe, but your radio must be able to receive VHF frequencies for you to hear it.
We recommend the Midland ER210, which receives both AM/FM signals and the weather stations. You can charge it in multiple ways, including solar, by hand crank, and rechargeable USB battery. It can also charge your phone.
A portable headlamp
Although any light source you have on hand will do in case of a power outage — a lantern, a flashlight, a candle — a headlamp is the most useful lighting tool in an emergency. Consider the Black Diamond Spot, along with extra batteries. Unlike a flashlight or your phone’s camera flash, it keeps your hands free, and after an earthquake specifically it’s wise to avoid candles or matches in case of undetected gas leaks, according to the Earthquake Country Alliance.
A first aid kit
After a big disaster, there is always potential for small wounds and fractures. But a good first aid kit should also be able to treat other minor maladies, such as allergies, nausea, or blisters. Besides, every home should have a good first aid kit handy, and before you need one is the best time to buy one. After testing several, we recommend the Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Whitetail first aid kit, which can handle basic injuries (and less common issues) for up to four people.
Phone chargers or battery packs
People rely on their phones and social media to communicate during and after a natural disaster, so it’s important to have a power source for your phone that won’t die quickly. Our favorite is the Anker PowerCore 20100 battery pack. It can charge a smartphone once a day for about a week, and it’s about the size of two decks of cards stacked end to end. When you stash it in your emergency kit, include an extra power cable for your device as well.