Earthquakes are among those handful of natural disasters that are at once, expected while simultaneously being unpredictable. That is to say that while we know that parts of the world are prone to earthquakes and can identify general trends, we have no reliable way to predict them or even monitor their approach. This often makes them much more catastrophic than hurricanes, flood and tornados when they do strike a heavily populated area. History and pre-history is full of cities and civilizations brought low or wiped out by the “Unquiet Earth” in its various forms.

In this day and age, the most earthquake prone areas are generally known and any individual living in these areas has little excuse not to acquire the basic planning and aftermath knowledge, put together an earthquake plan and supplement a basic disaster kit with earthquake specific equipment.

Reducing Earthquake Hazards in the Home & Office

  • Fasten shelves securely to walls. Even furniture that seems sturdy is little match for a substantial tremor or compromised building structure.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves. In the home, keeping such objects below head-height of the smallest family member should be your goal.
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches. Do not store volatile or dangerous materials such as gas, pesticides and cleaners in containers of this type.
  • Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit or sleep.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures. Hanging fixtures should have more than two anchor points if at all possible.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.
  • Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects. A standard home inspection before purchase may include these services in earthquake prone areas.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.

Establishing Earthquake Safe Zone Indoors and/or Outside

  • Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
  • Against an interior, structural wall (one incorporated into the house’s frame, not freestanding).
  • Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
  • In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.

Earthquake Education For Your, Family Members and Co-Workers

  • Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes.
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water. Post-quake fires and water damage and injury often far outrank the initial tremor damage.

Earthquake Specific Disaster Kit Additions

In addition to the standard disaster kit, a few special items may be invaluable for those in earthquake prone areas.

  • Sturdy Shoes
  • Work Gloves
  • Crowbar or Pry-bar
  • Sledge Hammer
  • Axe or Chainsaw
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Dust Masks
  • Safety Glasses/Goggles
  • Heavy Gauge Rope

Earthquake Aftermath Plan

  • Printed, weather proof copy of contact numbers, email & addresses
  • Rendezvous Point for Family & Co-Workers
  • Disaster Buddy/Pairs to quickly identify lost or missing individuals
  • Out of State or Region Family/Friends/Refuge for Evacuation

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