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Earthquake Preparedness

Ready To Ride It Out?

Would you be ready to ride it out if an earthquake hit today? With some basic planning and thinking ahead, preparing your home or office for an earthquake is easy. These tips on what to do before, during and after an earthquake were developed by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services to help you get ready to ride it out!


How well you, your family and your home survive an earthquake often depends upon how well you prepare beforehand. Develop a family and neighborhood earthquake plan. The following checklist will help you get started:

Prepare an emergency kit of food, water and supplies including a flashlight, portable, battery-operated radio, batteries, medicines, first aid kit, money and clothing.

Know the safe spots in each room - under sturdy tables, desks or against interior walls.

Know the danger spots - near windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall, unsecured furniture.

Conduct practice drills so you and your family know the safe locations in your home.

Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated during a quake.
Choose an out-of-state friend or relative that family members can call after the quake to report their whereabouts and conditions.

Learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Learn how to shut off gas, water and electricity in case the lines are damaged. (SAFETY NOTE: do not attempt to relight the gas pilot. Call the utility company).
Check chimneys, roofs, walls and foundations for stability. Make sure your house is bolted to its foundation.

Secure your water heater and major appliances as well as tall, heavy furniture, hanging plants, mirrors and picture frames (especially those over beds).
Keep breakables, heavy objects, flammable or hazardous liquids (paints, pest sprays and cleaning products) in secured cabinets or on lower shelves.
Organize your neighborhood to be self-sufficient after a quake.


If indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or table or stand in a corner.

If outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines.

If in a high-rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Get under a table. Do not use elevators.

If driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses and power lines. Stay inside your car until the shaking is over.

If in a crowded public place, do not rush for the doors. Crouch and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms.


Unless there is an immediate, life-threatening emergency, do not attempt to use the telephone. After a quake, be sure to:

Check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines. If there is damage, turn the utility off at the source.

Immediately report gas leaks to your utility company. Check for downed power lines; warn others to stay away.

Check your building for cracks and damage, including the roof, chimneys, and foundation.

Turn on your portable radio for instructions and news reports. For your own safety, cooperate fully with public safety officials and follow instructions.
Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.

Be prepared for aftershocks.

Stay calm and lend a hand to others.

If you evacuate, leave a message at your home telling family members and others where you can be found.


The first 72 hours after an earthquake are critical. Electricity, gas, water and telephones may not be working. In addition, public safety services such as police and fire departments will be busy handling serious crises. You should be prepared to be self-sufficient (able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, telephones and assistance from safety services) for at least three days following a quake. To do so, keep on hand in a central location the following:

Food. Enough for 72 hours, preferably one week.

Water. Enough so each person has a gallon a day for 72 hours, preferably one week. Store in airtight containers and replace it every six months. Store disinfectants such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach (eight drops per gallon) to purify water if necessary.

First aid kit. Make sure it's well-stocked, especially with bandages and disinfectants.

Fire extinguisher. Your fire extinguisher should be suitable for all types of fires. Teach all family members how to use it.

Flashlights with extra batteries. Keep flashlights beside your bed and in several other locations. DO NOT use matches or candles after an earthquake until you are certain there are no gas leaks.

Portable radio with extra batteries. Most telephones will be out of order or limited to emergency use. The radio will be your best source of information. Tune it to KCBS 740 AM for up-to-the-minute reports.

Extra blankets, clothing, shoes and money.

Alternate cooking source. Store a barbecue or camping stove for outdoor camping. CAUTION: Ensure there are no gas leaks before you use any kind of fire as a cooking source and do not use charcoal indoors.

Special Items. Have at least a week's supply of medications and food for infants and those with special needs.

Tools. Have an adjustable or pipe wrench for turning off gas and water.

Want to learn more about earthquake preparedness?

Call your local office of Emergency Services or the American Red Cross

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