The best time to prepare for an earthquake is long before the earthquake strikes. A couple of websites that can assist in preparing for earthquakes are the American Red Cross and The Federal Emergency Management Agency.
There are many things you can do to prepare well before an earthquake strikes. The following provides steps to protect you, your family and your property in the event of an earthquake.
To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
Fasten shelves securely to walls.
Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
Brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.
Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.
Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.
BUILD AN EMERGENCY KIT
A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.
Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.
MAKE A PLAN
Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.
Ready.gov has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Emergency Plan (FEP) and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends.
You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school, faith organizations, sports events and commuting. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one. Talk to community leaders, your colleagues, neighbors and members of faith or civic organizations about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.
Family Communication Tips
Identify a contact such as a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify they are safe. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
Teach family members how to use text messaging (also known as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Sign up by visiting your local Office of Emergency Management web site.