8 Steps to Preparing Your Family for an Earthquake

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Preparing for an earthquake may not be the first thing on your list. But, doing it now can save you stress should an earthquake hit. Here are 8 tips to do it.
emergency kit illustration


I live on the West Coast and as you may know that means living on an earthquake fault line. I’ve lived in this area my whole life and have experienced a few small tremors, but thankfully nothing serious. We’re warned that the ‘Big One’ is coming and we see devastation occur in other countries yet a recent news story on a local channel showed that less than half of us are actually prepared for if (when) it does hit. I myself never worried much before either, but now I have a family and there have been a few small ones recently in our area – this is my wake-up call!

No matter where you live, an earthquake is possible. It’s simple, and not too expensive, to put together some items to help you and your family in an earthquake:

1. Secure everything

Walk through your house room by room and look at what could potentially be unstable. Are glass frames, books or heavy objects on shelves that could fall down? Are your bookshelves and cabinets secured to the wall? How about any art or pictures? You can pick up some wall anchors or straps to secure them. Take a look at how your electronics are stored as well, these can fall and be easily damaged.

2. Choose your safe areas

Find a few areas throughout your home that will be a safe spot during an earthquake, such as under a sturdy table or alongside a wall. Make sure your family is familiar with these areas and there are enough of them for everyone in most parts of your home. Be sure to stay away from the windows, which may break.

3. Gather basic supplies

Designate a safe area in your home where your family can gather after an earthquake and store enough water, food (cans are fine but don’t forget to store a can opener here as well!) toiletries, blankets, flashlights, and medications here to last a couple of days.

Don’t forget food and supplies for your pets as well. Keep medical records, or at least copies, nearby. Also be sure to go through these supplies occasionally to make sure nothing has expired.

4. Invest in specialized safety equipment

A first aid kit and a fire extinguisher can be invaluable if you need them. Hopefully you never will, but it’s worth it to keep these things nearby just in case. Pick up a small wind up or battery powered radio (and keep the batteries fresh!) so you can tune into local stations for information.

5. Hold occasional drills with your family

As I said above make sure all members of your family are familiar with the safe areas in your home, teach them how to use the fire extinguishers and where the designated gathering space will be. Have these drills yearly, especially if any changes to your home or furniture layout have occurred.

6. Take a course

Free, or inexpensive, workshops on emergency preparedness are often available. Check with your local city hall or community center and have your family attend one or at least pick up a check list or instructions from them.

7. Plan what to do if you’re not at home

Let’s face it, most of us only spend one-third to maybe one-half of their lives at home. The rest of the time is spent at work, school, in the car, or elsewhere. It’s worth it to make a plan at your workplace, although hopefully your work or school already has a plan in place, and to keep a small kit at work and in your car.

8. Arrange an out-of-town contact

Family members may all be in different places when disaster strikes and it may be difficult to get home or through to local family. Designate a friend or family member who lives out of town that all family members can call and check in with.

A few minutes, a few dollars

A few minutes and a few dollars in supplies can make all the difference. Have you taken steps for earthquake, or other emergency, preparedness?

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Erika Palmer

Erika Palmer is a Mom and freelance writer located in Beautiful British Columbia. She is currently working hard to create a home for her new family and is stumbling hilariously down the road to becoming a domestic goddess. In addition to her love of family, and reading and writing, she enjoys exploring new interests with friends, shopping for just about anything, and cuddling up with a great cup of tea and some sort of chocolate treat.