Earthquake Preparedness

ZAP!With the loss of power come side affects you may not think of.  There will be no gasoline available.  (Without power, there is no way to pump the gas.)  You might be far from home.  Your car's heater might be your only source of heat. The money in your pocket will have to last until power is returned.  Some supplies may be available, but buying some items like a manual can opener will be impossible.  Cash cards will be useless if power or phone lines are lost.  Many stores will have a hard time opening since items don't have prices on them anymore, thanks to scanning cash registers!  You get the picture. 

Let's look at some things you can do to
prepare BEFORE a quake strikes:


Home is where you can do the most to be prepared.


bullet Strap gas appliances to walls or floor, especially the water heater.  Remember your water heater is a large source of water, and weighs several hundred pounds when full. A four hundred pound water heater will break gas lines on its way to the floor. Gas appliances are a real danger in an earthquake, and are the cause of most fires after a quake.
bullet Verify your house is bolted to its foundation.
bullet Brace overhead light fixtures and secure hanging plants.
bullet Replace solid gas lines with flexible lines on stoves, water heaters, and dryers.
bullet Find out where the utility shutoffs are for water, power, and gas.
bullet Place a flashlight or an emergency light next to all beds.
bullet Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
bullet Fasten shelve units securely to walls with L brackets and place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
bullet Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
bullet Store household chemicals on a bottom shelf of a closed cabinet.
Never store bleach and ammonia in the same cabinet.  These chemicals, when mixed, will create a deadly toxic gas.
bullet Identify the best and worst places to be in your house. Remember that you might not have any choice as to where you will be located when a disaster strikes. The best places inside the house are under major beams that are secured to the rest of the structure, or in strong doorways, or inner structural walls. The worst places are in front of windows, or near fireplaces and chimneys.
bullet Make an emergency plan including escape routes and meeting places.  Choose both a nearby meeting place and an out of state relative to be your check in contact for the family.
bullet Test your emergency plan with all members of the family present.
bullet Plug emergency lighting into selected outlets.  (These flashlights are constantly charged, and turn on automatically when power fails, or when the units are unplugged.)
bullet Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers and keep them away from the house.
bullet Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and near sleeping areas.

Create an Emergency Kit:

  The following list of supplies are slanted to items for your home.  After all, home is where you have the largest space available for your supplies.  This is an ideal list.  Some of these items might be a bit out of reach for many.  Look the list over, and try to understand why some of the items are listed.  What we all really need to survive is food, water, and shelter.  Beyond these three categories, everything else is just for comfort.  But again, anything you can put away will be greatly appreciated in time of need!  This website ( ) sells many of the items below inexpensively. These items should be placed in a "kit" and stored in a central closet or garage.


House suppliesEssentials

Knife and fork.Water.Food & Water:

bullet 1 gallons per person per day for 1 week.  Remember that your water heater in the house is typically 50 gallons, and may be used if your home survives. 
bullet Canned goods - ready to eat soups, meats, veggies and fruit.  The same type of food you normally have on hand.  Make a point to start buying extra of whatever you normally buy, to dedicate to your supplies.  Date the top of anything you buy with a black permanent marker.
bullet Plan for a minimum of 3 cans per person per day for a week, about 2 mixed cases per person.  Store these items in suitcases near corners of the house. Additional food should be stored in the garage, and at another location away from the dwelling. Remember to maximize canned goods with moisture content like ready to eat soup.  Don't forget a manual can opener! No power, no way to open cans!
bullet Pet foods (as needed).


bullet First aid kit including the following:. 
bullet Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
bullet Assorted sizes of safety pins
bullet Cleansing agent/soap
bullet Latex gloves (2 pairs)
bullet Sunscreen
bullet 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
bullet 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
bullet Triangular bandages (3)
bullet Non-prescription drugs such as Pain relievers, Anti-diarrhea medicines, Antacid, Syrup of Ipecac (used to induce vomiting with the advice of a Poison Control Center), Laxatives, Activated charcoal (used with advice from the Poison Control Center)
bullet Various roller bandages
bullet Scissors
bullet Tweezers
bullet Needle
bullet Moistened towelettes
bullet Bactine
bullet Thermometer
bullet Tongue blades (2)
bullet Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
bullet One bottle rubbing alcohol
bullet One bottle hydrogen peroxide
bullet First aid manual

The Sun.Light:

bullet Flashlight with 2 sets of spare alkaline batteries and one spare bulb.  Newer LED flashights are also available and run much longer on a set of batteries.
bullet Lantern  battery, kerosene or propane powered. Store fuel or batteries, but never use fuel based lighting until you are sure gas leaks are eliminated.
bullet Water proof matches or lighter
bullet Candles are NOT a good idea


bullet AM/FM radio.  Store at least 3 sets of alkaline batteries for standard units.  Inexpensive radios are available from your local Radio Shack, Wal-Mart or Target.
bullet Pen, pencil, and paper pad.  Store in zip lock bag.
bullet Stamped postcards.  Store in zip lock bags.  Your house might be gone, but if you still have a mailbox, the mail will continue service.  An easy way to stay in touch with family far away.
bullet List of important phone numbers, including your out of state contact person.


bullet Portable chemical toilet and disinfectant crystals.  You will only need this if your dwelling is damaged, or if your water supply is limited.
bullet Toilet tissue rolls. 
bullet Garbage bags.  Can also be used as toilet liners.
bullet Pre-moistened towelettes
bullet All purpose liquid soap
bullet Tooth brush and paste
bullet Deodorant
bullet Disposable razor
bullet Feminine hygiene items
bullet Latex gloves
bullet Small bottle Chlorine bleach (To treat water-10 drops per gallon, 20 if cloudy) or  water purification tablets


bullet Two person tube tent minimum  (larger size better)
bullet Wool blanket, sleeping bag or emergency sleeping bag
bullet Emergency Space blanket
bullet Propane powered Heater

Man cooking.Cooking:

bullet Barbecue, 40 pounds charcoal, and two cans of starter fluid.   A propane camp stove may also be used.
bullet Pot and pan for cooking
bullet Kitchen knife
bullet Plastic Spoons &  forks
bullet Styrofoam cups
bullet Water proof matches or lighter
bullet Zip lock bags
bullet Manual Can Opener!
bullet Aluminum foil.  A must!  Can be formed into just about anything you might need.


bullet Fire extinguisher, type ABC
bullet Crow bar, 1 ft min.
bullet Multibit screwdriver
bullet Pliers
bullet Leather gloves
bullet Utility knife
bullet Plastic tarp, 9x12 ft min
bullet Nylon rope, 100 foot
bullet Duct tape
bullet Aluminum foil
bullet A crescent wrench for shutting of gas and water main valves
bullet Power converter for running 120 volt items from car battery.

Baby.Baby stuff (if needed):

bullet Baby formula and plastic bottles
bullet Large box disposable diapers
bullet Pre-moistened wet wipes
bullet Baby blanket and knit cap
bullet Two or three complete change of baby clothes 


bullet One complete change of clothing for each person
bullet Emergency poncho
bullet Pair of boots each person
bullet Phone change. $6.50 in quarters fit in a plastic 35 mm film container nicely
bullet $50 cash min, in ones, five's, and tens
bullet Duplicate credit cards
bullet Photo copies of ID
bullet Spare checks
bullet Playing cards
bullet Spare keys

Above was a list of what to do BEFORE the quake. The following list describes what to do during and after an earthquake.

Cover head.What to do during an Earthquake!

If you are inside:

  • Stay inside.  The most dangerous thing to do during the shaking of an earthquake is to try to leave the building because objects can fall on you.
  • Duck under a sturdy table or desk.  Cover head, neck and face.
    Hold on to a table leg, so you're not tossed free of cover.
  • If a table is not near by, drop to the floor and move toward the nearest inside wall avoiding all windows and objects that could fall.  Cover head, neck and face.
  • Go nowhere else until the shaking stops!  Where ever you are when it hits is home for the duration!
  • If you are inside a large and crowded facility like a stadium, stay put!  Thousands might trample you on the way to an exit. Cover your head. You have a better chance of riding the quake out where you are.

If you are in your car:

  • Stop your car away from buildings, overpasses and power lines if possible.
  • Stay in car until shaking stops.
  • Turn off the engine, but not until your car is stopped. Many cars will lock the steering wheel if you turn off the ignition.
  • Turn on your radio.
  • Occasionally run the engine to keep warm if needed. Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning, and keep a downwind window slightly open for ventilation.

If you are outside:

  • Drop, and cover.  Move toward an open area if possible away from power lines and structures.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.
  • Move away from cliffs, or embankments.
  • If you are near tall buildings, duck under doorways.  It is estimated that the streets of Seattle will be covered by 12 feet of broken glass in some areas after a major quake.
  • Get away from power lines!


Check.What to do after a quake!

If outside:

  • Move away from rivers.  A major quake may send mud and water down river beds, or worse yet might breach dams upstream.
  • If you are near body of water, move to higher ground.  A tsunami is a real threat!
  • Stay off 911 unless life threatening.
  • Hang up any phones that are off the hook.
  • Check for hazards like precarious structures, downed power lines and gas leaks.
  • Turn off gas mains first.  Turn off main power breakers only if no gas is smelled.
  • Fill your bath tub, and any pots and pans right away.
  • Look for broken water pipes and turn off main.
  • Give aid to anyone who is injured.
  • If electricity is out, stay out of refrigerator and freezer.
    Freezer items will be OK for up to 3 days if the door is not opened.
    Items in the refrigerator will be OK for about 8 hours.  Use the items in the refrigerator first, and trust your nose.  If it doesn't smell right, throw it out.
  • Prepare for after shocks.  Anything you thought might fall and didn't, will fall!
  • Turn off power to your hot water heater if you plan to use the stored water it contains.  Use a hose to obtain water from the drain spigot.
  • Eat food from the refrigerator first, then from the freezer. Eat canned food and MRE's last.

If inside or around the house:

  • Open closet and cupboard doors cautiously.
  • Inspect the entire length of chimneys carefully for damage.  Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
  • Check for gas leaks.  If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building.  Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home.  If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Look for electrical system damage.  If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.
  • Check for sewage and water lines damage.  If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.  You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes, or from your water heater.

SOURCE: Modified and adapted with permission.


Copyright 2001. All rights reserved.
Designed by Great Webs R Us
Contact the Webmaster