How Can I Prepare for an Earthquake?

There is no sure-fire way to predict when an earthquake will hit, or how destructive it will be when it does. But you can take basic precautions to ensure that whenever a quake does strike, you and your family will be as well prepared as you can be.

Safety Tips

If you're inside when a quake hits, find a stable piece of furniture to take shelter under, and hold the furniture steady through the shaking. Make sure that your neck is protected and your eyes are covered.

Focus on finding a safe spot for yourself before worrying about anyone else. Be sure to keep as far away as possible from glass, which could shatter, and from electronic equipment, which could spark. NEVER face windows. Remember that door frames aren't as safe as tables; always find the areas that offer the most cover.

If you are outdoors when a quake hits, keep away from telephone poles and wires, tall trees, and glass.

Open areas outside are generally safer than confined spaces inside, but trying to bolt outside during an earthquake is not worth the risk of injury. Find the safest areas where you are.

Plan for the likely possibility that members of your family will not be at home when an earthquake hits. Discuss outdoor safety. Establish a contact plan for after the disaster: where everyone should call, where they should head (towards home or another agreed-upon location), etc.

Have an out-of-state contact to call in case of emergency. Interstate telephone calls will usually go through even if local wires have been downed. Family members can stay in touch through an out-of-state friend or family member.

Above all, make sure that everyone knows how to respond. It's hard to think clearly when disaster strikes. Having a clear idea of what you should do before an earthquake strikes will limit the possibility of injury.

Prepare

Once you have established a plan of action for the duration and immediate aftermath of an earthquake, you need to make preparations for the days that will follow.

Keep at least a one- to three-week supply of non-perishable food on hand, in case stores aren't open, aren't accessible, or aren't adequately stocked. Most retail stores will be in a state of chaos after an earthquake, and vital supplies may be hard to obtain.

Water mains might be damaged, and your water could be cut off. Have an emergency supply of water ready. Adults need two quarts (eight cups) of water per day, and children need more. You will also need water for cooking, washing, flushing the toilet, and other hygenic purposes. One gallon of water per person per day is a good amount to have on hand, and you should have at least a three-day supply.

Keep candles and flashlights on hand in case of power outages, as well as some means of generating heat: propane, firewood and matches, etc.

Try to imagine the worst case scenario and supply yourself accordingly.

Remember that the best form of preparation is prevention: your house can be made much safer by making sure its structure is adequately reinforced and by securing its interior and windows.

How Can A-FFIX Help Me to Prepare for an Earthquake?

A-FFIX LLC offers a variety of services that can help you to prepare for earthquakes. Beyond the most essential services—making your house itself more earthquake-resistant by strengthening its understructure through retrofit, reducing the risk of shattering glass by coating windows with windowfilm, and keeping your house's furnishings intact by securing them—we also offer supply kits and planning information.

Our company offers emergency kits from the Emergency Lifeline that provide all the essentials you'll need in the wake of a disaster: water, food, blankets, heat, flashlight, first aid, and more. The kits are compact and easy to store, and make a sensible precaution for travel, as well.

A-FFIX also provides free disaster planning guides from the International Red Cross (see the first two links below), and contact cards for family members or friends to use in case of emergency. Contact cards serve as both a reminder of important numbers for the card-carrier and as a reference for anyone assisting the carrier should they be injured. Contact us about any or all of our services.

Earthquake Preparedness Links

Links to pages discussing earthquake preparedness and what to do in the event of a quake.

Earthquake Preparation — The American Red Cross' basic overview of how to prepare yourself for a quake, and what to do during and after the disaster.

Family Disaster Planning - Detailed advice on creating a disaster plan for your family. Put together by the National Disaster Education Coalition, which includes the American Red Cross and FEMA. Also available as a PDF.

FEMA: Earthquake Information — The Federal Emergency Management Agencies's recommendations for earthquake preparedness before, during, and after an earthquake.

FEMA: Earthquake Mitigation How-To — FEMA details ways in which you can mitigate earthquake damage in specific areas of your home.

After a Disaster — The American Red Cross' general guidelines for keeping safe after a disaster, as well as disaster-specific information.

Is Your Family Prepared for an Earthquake? — A thorough outline of items to have on hand and preparations to make for a disaster.

Earthquake Checklist — A bare-bones checklist of things to have on hand at home in case of an earthquake.

Emergency Drinking Water — A thorough guide to preparing an emergency water supply, including detailed information about purifying water and identifying potential water sources. Prepared by North Carolina University.

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