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How to Prepare for an Earthquake

Earthquakes can be terrifying, especially if you aren’t sure what to do when one happens. Thankfully, there are ways to get ready in case one hits. Here are 10 things you need to do to prepare for an earthquake.

  1. Get an emergency kit ready.
    An emergency kit is necessary for any situation in which someone could get injured, especially in the case of earthquakes. You need to prepare a kit that includes medical supplies, extra batteries, a flashlight, at least a gallon of fresh water, and non-perishable food. You can get a full list of what you need at the Red Cross website. 
  2. Secure things in your home.
    Earthquakes can shake your house, causing heavy objects to fall. Furniture, picture frames, and wall ornaments need to be secured in position. If you have a particularly wobbly bookshelf, cabinet, or dresser, consider fastening it to the wall. Weighty objects in bookshelves need to be moved to the bottom shelves to increase stability
  3. Visit earthquake monitoring websites.
    Tiny earthquakes happen all the time, and you barely notice them. However, several smaller earthquakes may signify a larger one is on its way. To keep an eye out, you can visit earthquake monitoring websites. Two popular websites that allow you to check recent earthquakes are the United States Geological Survey and Global Incident Map by Quakes. These two websites show you every recent earthquake in the United States.  
  4. Create an earthquake readiness plan.
    An earthquake readiness plan helps you prepare in the event of an earthquake, similar to what students practice in school during a fire drill. Be prepared to practice this plan several times. Most importantly, you need to find a safe place to duck for cover in every location of your house. No matter where you are, you need to have a safe place to hide from falling debris.
  5. Consider getting proper medical training.
    Proper medical training can save someone’s life after an earthquake. The Red Cross offers classes where you can get training in CPR or how to handle bleeding. Another situation you need to consider is teaching young children to dial 911 in case of an emergency. This simple training may save someone’s life.
  6. Inspect your home for faulty wiring or pipes.
    An earthquake can bring to the surface issues you may not expect, such as pipes bursting or wires being exposed. If a gas pipe bursts, you may not know until it’s too late. This danger can cause a fire very quickly and turn a bad situation into a horrible one. Have your pipes and wires inspected on a regular basis.
  7. Create a communication plan.
    In an ideal world, your family will be near you during an emergency, and you’ll know if they’re all right. Unfortunately, this situation is only an ideal. Your family may not be nearby, so you need to prepare a communication plan. If there is an earthquake, make a plan of who is going to call whom.
  8. Place flashlights around your home.
    Earthquakes usually bring blackouts, so you need to have an easily accessible flashlight in every room. You also need to check the flashlights on a regular basis to ensure they’ll work when you need them. Nothing is worse than needing a flashlight and not being able to find one.
  9. Learn how to shut off gas and water in your home.
    If pipes burst, you need to turn off the utility before it can cause more problems. Leaking gas can cause fires, and water can cause flooding. You need to figure out where you can turn off the gas and water so you can stop problems before they become worse.
  10. Plan for aftershocks.
    One of the worst things about earthquakes is the aftershocks that may follow. While aftershocks are usually weaker than the original earthquake, they may be stronger. These types of tremors are called “mainshocks.” They are rare, but you and your family need to be prepared for them should they occur.
Last Updated: March 14, 2016