Develop a Plan
If an earthquake strikes today, will you and your family be prepared? Assuming that it strikes during the day, when everyone is spread out around,doing their normal routines, will they know what to do, who to call and where to meet?
Think about it. After the quake is over, what should they do? Who should they call first? And where should they meet? Better to consider those questions now than when the ground starts shaking. What you do now will make the aftermath of the inevitable a lot more bearable.
- The first thing to do is prepare a disaster plan. Write down on notebook paper a list of things to do before, during and after the disaster.
- Identify potential hazard areas around the home and inform all family members.
- Make sure everyone knows how to recognize the smell of leaking gas and be sure they understand that they are to immediately vacate the premises and seek help. They can call the gas company or the fire department or tell a neighbor.
- Know the location of utility shutoffs and keep tools nearby for that purpose. You can find detailed information on this topic at “The Homeowner's Guide to Earthquake Safety" ( requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
- Because you may have to face several days without basic services (like electricity, water, gas and garbage pickup), stock up on emergency supplies of water, food, clothing, blankets, batteries, flashlights, large plastic bags, etc. Let everyone know where the items are stored, and do not forget to note the periodic dates for rotating your stock to assure freshness and reliability.
- Survey your entire home for earthquake safe-spots, typically under sturdy desks and tables. Go over it with all family members, and don't assume they already know this.
- Inform everyone of a place to meet outside the home once the shaking stops.
- Designate an out-of-area person as the contact point for calling once the shaking stops, and make sure that everyone has the phone number either with them or programmed into their cell phones. The designee can relay information to family members.
- Hold earthquake/fire practice drills periodically.
- Keep copies of important documents, like insurance papers and financial records, in a safe, dry, secure area such as with your emergency kit. Include a list of belongs. Pictures and videos of belongings would also be helpful when making insurance claims.
- Provide your children with either a preprogrammed cell phone or a list of emergency numbers for calling their whereabouts after the quake.
- Update your child's school emergency release card.
- Be sure to plan for family members who have special needs. For instance, store medications to last several days and rotate them regularly.
- Automatic garage door openers have emergency latches in case of power outage. Know its location and how to operate it.
- Make sure everyone knows where the nearest emergency services (fire, police and medical) are located. Keep their phone numbers handy.
- Your fire department will know if there is a Community Emergency Response Team in your area. If not, find out how to start one.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The more in the family who know the procedure the better.
- Talk to your neighbors, babysitters and house sitters. Discuss each other's capabilities, needs, etc. After disasters, neighbors tend to pull together for the common good, but it will help knowing ahead of time who you can count on and for what.
- Check with your child's school or day care center to learn its disaster plan.
- Remember, when an earthquake hits, don't panic. Stay calm and ride it out.
- However, if you want to reduce the level of danger, uncertainty and personal discomfort after it's over, you had better have a plan.