Are you prepared for an Earthquake?

Emergency Preparedness During an Earthquake

Earthquakes are a unique form of natural disaster because they strike without any warning. Unlike hurricanes, powerful storms, and even tornados where some warning is present beforehand, you have no way of knowing when one will hit until it starts. However, they only strike in areas where faults are present, so you will need to be earthquake ready at all times.

Proper disaster preparedness starts with having enough supplies to get you through a reasonable period before you are rescued or find adequate shelter that provides food and water. This means that you will need to create an earthquake plan and emergency kit, so you and your family will know what to do when the worst happens.


Getting Started

Becoming a prepper for emergencies does not require the investment of a great deal of money or time but creating an earthquake kit alone is not enough when faced with disaster. You and your family will need to properly prepare by doing the following;

  • Learn what to do when an earthquake strikes
  • Where you need to go after the earthquake passes
  • What action to take if you need assistance

Those who are prepared with a plan of action and proper supplies stand a far higher chance of survival. This means that you should get ready for the worst and take the appropriate action to maximize the chances of you and your family getting through this traumatic event.

Assessment: The first step in becoming earthquake ready is assessing your home and emergency supplies in case disaster strikes. While most homes are structurally sound, if you have any doubts about the integrity, have a home inspector look over your home. Any important flaws such as unreinforced masonry walls or unbraced foundations should be corrected, so that you don’t have to worry about the house coming down on you.

Once you have assessed the integrity of the structure, the next step is to secure any object inside the home that might become an issue during an earthquake.

  • Open shelves with lots of items
  • Heavy items in the attic
  • Ceiling fans, chandeliers, and large lighting structures in the ceiling
  • Bookcases, large TVs and appliances
  • Gas appliances have flexible lines

Securing bookcases and other heavy items to the walls will prevent tipping over during an earthquake. Plus, do not store heavy items in the attic as they might come crashing down on top of you. You need to tour all parts of your home and look for potential issues that might cause serious injury during an earthquake and correct them.

You do not need to tape down every item on a shelf, but if an item is heavy enough to cause serious injury, then you should deal with it appropriately.

Create a Plan: Now that you have secured your home, the next step is to create a plan for what to do in case of an earthquake. Your plan needs to be simple, easy to remember, and will be followed by everyone in the home. Remember that an earthquake may interrupt cell phone signals, so your plan must assume that family members are on their own.

  • Protect Yourself: Get under solid furniture, such as a desk, during the earthquake
  • Check Yourself Out: Make sure that you are not injured and treat any minor abrasions or cuts
  • Look Around: Assess whether it is dangerous to stay or leave your location
  • Go to Predesignated Place: Choose a spot that everyone will meet beforehand

Taking cover and protecting yourself is the first act of being earthquake ready. By taking care of yourself first, you can help others later. Once the earthquake passes and you are not seriously injured, you’ll want to make your way to the predesignated area if it is safe. However, it may not be safe to leave, so stay where you are until the danger passes.

The predesignated area around a house might be a prominent tree or something in the front or back yard, so that you know everyone is safe.

Aftershocks: Keep in mind that many earthquakes have aftershocks, which is vibrations that result from the original earthquake that may come minutes or hours later. There is no way to know if, when, or how many aftershocks will strike, but they can be as dangerous as the original quake. This is because an aftershock may be nearly as intense and damaged walls and ceilings may collapse.

If you have taken shelter, be sure it is a secure place. If in doubt, it’s better to be out in the open if an aftershock strikes.

Creating an Earthquake Kit

Know that you know what to do, the next step is having supplies ready for survival. This is where an emergency kit becomes so important. A good prepper will have multiple kits for multiple situations. This means that you should create different kits depending on where you are located.

Home: You should build up enough supplies to last at least a week. The kit itself should be stored in a place that is easily accessible and everyone knows where it is located. For proper disaster preparedness, your home kit should consist of the following;

  • Dried food that can be stored for months
  • Canned food with can opener
  • Bottled water & empty plastic containers.
  • Lighter, matches, and candles
  • Portable gas stove with can of gas for cooking
  • First aid kit
  • Sleeping bags, emergency satellite phone, and flares

Your home emergency kit assumes that your home is still safe, you have no electricity, and it is not safe to travel.

Car: You’ll want to have an earthquake ready kit for your vehicle if you are caught out on the road. A backpack is ideal as it can carry what you need in case you need to leave your car or truck.

  • Protein bars, candy, and other dried food like nuts
  • Emergency phone, first aid kit, and water
  • Sleeping bag or blanket

Remember, your car emergency kit is designed to protect you for now while you get to another location. You may want to store a little cash, so you can purchase additional supplies if available. And, if you live in rural areas, having a fire-building kit can come in handy as well if you are going to be isolated for a while.

Medical Emergency: For anyone who is seriously injured, getting immediate medical treatment is a must. This means being able to assess the injuries and taking the appropriate action.

  • Do not move the injured person
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately
  • Get training in CPR, bandaging wounds, and additional education to stabilize an injured person

Getting emergency training in life-saving techniques along with stabilizing injured parties will go a long way towards keeping you and those who are injured alive.

Keep a Cool Head: It can be easy to fall into a panic, but to survive you will need to stay cool and collected. The easiest way to stay cool is to focus on the next task ahead. This means getting your emergency kit, helping those around you, and finding shelter if none exists. The more you can do to stay collected, the better your odds of survival.

Contacts and Care

You should have telephone numbers, addresses, and predesignated sites for evacuation handy, so that you can meet up with family members in case of separation. While home may be the first choice, the nearest convenient designated evacuation shelter will help everyone meet up when away from home.

Care for your pets and property is one aspect of emergency preparedness that often gets overlooked until it is needed. In addition, a few emergency items at home can help protect your property as well. By taking steps ahead of time, you can save considerable effort and energy ensuring your pets and property are cared for.

  • Locate shelters for pets, so they are safe if you have to evacuate
  • Know how to shut off the gas and home utilities
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy just in case
  • Know your insurance coverage and what is available

If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, then having earthquake insurance may be necessary. Check with your insurance agent about the current coverage for your home and see what earthquake insurance can do.

Helping Others

Going beyond helping your family means helping those in your neighborhood. You can work through volunteer organizations such as the Red Cross or find other volunteer opportunities through local organizations as well as national ones such as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or Citizen Corp.

If you are in a position to help others, then volunteering for an organization is a great way to get your community back on its feet. Otherwise, taking care of you and your family first is the way to go. By being prepared with an emergency plan, earthquake kit, and proper disaster preparedness, you can be earthquake ready in case the worst should happen.