Best Ways to Prepare for an Earthquake

Best Ways to Prepare for an Earthquake

Here are some easy and affordable ways to prepare for an earthquake:

Our favorite first steps, in order of best “bang for the buck”

If you have $0 and only 2 minutes, choose one of these and do it:

  • Write down on a piece of paper and keep it in your wallet: the cell phone numbers of your spouse/children/parents and the phone numbers of the school/workplaces where they are during the day.
  • Put shoes next to your bed. Then you won’t accidentally step on broken glass.
  • Teach your children how to dial 911.

If you have $0 and only 10 minutes, choose one of these and do it:

  • Go meet one of your neighbors – you might need to rely on each other.
  • Remove any heavy items hanging above your bed.
  • Move flammable or poisonous products like propane, wood stain, or pesticide to the bottom shelf of a closed cabinet. This prevents fire or hazardous waste in your home.

If you have a little bit of money, but no time:

  • When you’re out shopping, pick up a solar charger. If the power is out, your phone will be an essential lifeline.
  • Consider parametric earthquake insurance which provides a lump-sum of money as soon as the next day, which you can use however you need. It’s a budget-friendly first step to get financially prepared. Jumpstart is one example.

If you have half a day, choose one of these and do it:

  • If you have a gas water heater, brace it or make sure it’s braced. This prevents it from toppling, which could start a fire.
  • Secure heavy items, especially tall shelves so they don’t fall on you. Here are some detailed instructions.

If you can allocate some savings and some time:

  • Remove your brick chimney and replace it with a lightweight alternative. This is really important because the most earthquake deaths come from falling bricks.

Conventional advice that we believe is less important:

  • Storing lots of food and water – rely on your pantry and your water heater.
  • Making a comprehensive plan – you can’t plan for every circumstance, better to have a few key pieces of information and emergency savings.

What about seismic retrofit?

Bolting your foundation and bracing your crawl space is a big commitment of time and money. It will prevent your house from sliding off its foundation, but that probably won’t kill you. However, a retrofit will prevent your house from becoming a total loss.

Here are our favorite tips by others:
Earthquake Country Alliance
Red Cross
California Academy of Sciences