Earthquakes can happen anywhere, anytime. You can help protect your family, your home, and yourself and by taking protective actions and being informed.
We recommend this guide from FEMA, How To Prepare For An Earthquake.
Here are some tips and essentials to help you stay safe:
- Secure heavy furniture, such as bookcases, cabinets or wall units
- Hang heavy pictures and mirrors away from beds and sitting areas
- Place heavy objects and breakable items on bottom shelves
- Secure your water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor
- Immediately repair any defective electrical wiring or leaky gas connections
- Repair cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects
- Store flammable products securely in latched cabinets on bottom shelves
- Secure hazardous chemicals, such as weed killers and pesticides
- Install Earthquake shut-off valves that attach to your gas meter—these valves automatically close to stop gas from flowing into your line in the event of an earthquake
- Equip your home with fire extinguishers and teach family members how to use them.
Hold the extinguisher upright and remember the word “P-A-S-S”:
- PULL: Pull the pin, ring or seal
- AIM: Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire
- SQUEEZE: Squeeze or press the handle to release
- SWEEP: Sweep slowly from side to side at the base of the fire until the fire is extinguished
- Water: one gallon of water per person, per day for three days
- Food: non-perishable food items such as canned foods, MREs, trail mix
- Tools: utility knife, crowbar, gas/water shutoff wrench, dust mask
- Medicine: prescription and over-the counter medications, eyeglasses
- First Aid: bandages, antiseptic, pain medicine, sunscreen, scissors
- Sanitation: toilet rolls, feminine products, towelette wipes, soap
- Tech: emergency radio, batteries, hand-cranked flashlight or lamp
- Documents: passport, drivers license, financial records, photos
- Hanging objects
- Unsecured tall furniture
- Against inside walls
- Under sturdy tables or desks
- In strong doorways-- beware of doors that can swing!
- Discuss with your family the types of disasters that could occur
- Explain to your kids how to prepare and respond to each type of disaster
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, fire department, and which radio station to tune to for emergency information
- Practice earthquake drills, putting yourself in the Safety Zone— especially important for children
- Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water
- Plan where to go and what to bring if you have to evacuate
- Pick two meeting places in case you get separated in a disaster:
- A safe distance from your home in case of a home fire
- Away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home
- Choose an out-of-state friend as a check-in contact for everyone to call
- Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone
- Learn first aid and CPR. Your local American Red Cross chapter can provide information and training
With a few simple preparations, you can keep pets safe in an emergency. Be sure to include these items with your emergency supplies:
- Carriers, leashes, or harnesses to transport pets in safety
- Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter and box, and a manual can opener if your cat or dog eats canned food
- Medications and copies of veterinary medical records
- Photos of you and your pet together—It can help to identify your pet if they get lost
- Pet beds, toys, treats, and anything that can help to calm your pet during a stressful situation
Many shelters and hotels won’t allow animals, so be sure to include information about your pet’s meal schedule, medical conditions, and the phone number of your veterinarian. Always be sure your pet is chipped with current registration.
If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability:
- When you dial 9-1-1, tap space bar to indicate TDD call
- Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others
- Keep a flashlight handy to signal whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication
- Remind friends that you cannot reliably hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to relay emergency information to you
- Be aware that Hearing Ear Dogs may become confused or disoriented in an emergency
- Store extra food, water and supplies for your dog
If you need a wheelchair:
- Show friends how to operate your wheelchair so they can safely move you if necessary
- Make sure your friends know the size of your wheelchair in case it has to be transported
Remember these important points:
- People who are deaf or hearing-impaired may not hear early disaster warnings and emergency instructions. Share emergency information with them as you learn it
- Blind or sight-impaired people—particularly older people—may be reluctant to leave familiar surroundings when the evacuation order comes from a stranger
- A guide dog could become confused or disoriented in a disaster. People who are blind or partially sighted may have to depend on others to lead them, as well as their dog, to safety during a disaster.
- In most states, guide dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with owners. Check with your local emergency management officials for more information.
- People with impaired mobility are often concerned about being dropped when being lifted or carried. Find out the proper way to transfer or move someone in a wheelchair and what exit routs from buildings are best.
- Some people with an intellectual disability or general learning disability may not understand the emergency and could become disoriented or confused about the proper way to react
- Many respiratory illnesses can be aggravated by stress. In an emergency, oxygen and respiratory equipment may not be readily available
- People with epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions often have very individualized medication regimens that cannot be interrupted without serious consequences. Some may be unable to communicate this information in an emergency.
Create a self-help network:
- Self-help networks are a great way to assist a person with a disability in an emergency
- Discuss how to keep them informed and what help might be needed
- You may wish to keep a key to the person’s house so you can provide assistance quickly
- Make an emergency kit and keep a copy of the list of items the person may depend on, such as medicines or specialized medical equipment