Was yesterday’s quake near Los Angeles a one-time-only incident or could it be a foreshock to something much bigger? Either way, use this list to prepare, and download this Red Cross app for all kinds of earthquake alerts and survival information.
Fore more information, take “Earthquake Basics: Science, Risk, and Mitigation,” from FEMA’s online Emergency Management Institute.
1. Keep inexpensive hard hats handy to protect your head, and your children’s heads, from falling items, including anything hanging on your walls and sitting on shelves. When the earth shakes, everything shakes!
2. Get in the habit of keeping a pair of shoes next to each bed. Cuts and splinters in the feet are one of the most common post-earthquake injuries.
3. I recommend a pair of Crocs-style shoes as emergency shoes, especially if they have a furry or padded liner. They’re quick to slip on, oversized—so it takes a while for kids to outgrow them—and wide enough to allow for a pair of heavy socks.
4. Keep a pair of eyeglasses in a secured spot near your bed. If a quake occurs in the middle of the night, you’ll need to see where you’re going.
5. Packed emergency kits are a necessity, since a quake can leave you homeless in a matter of minutes. Have them stored right by the exit door to your home. You might not have time to track them down.
6. Teach your kids the Red Cross earthquake survival technique: “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” This is safer than standing in a doorway, which may or may not have structural integrity.
7. Learn and teach “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” even if you don’t live in earthquake country. Earthquakes have been happening in some really diverse places lately, so don’t assume you’re 100% earthquake safe just because you don’t live in earthquake country.
8. Inspect your home for construction and repair issues that will only worsen with an earthquake, such as a cracked foundation or a damaged roof. Take care of repairs now, if possible.
9. Cut down tree branches that are near power lines. In an earthquake, these branches often fall on the power lines, causing them to snap.
10. Know how to shut off the water and gas supplies into your home and where the shut-off valves are located. Make sure to have the correct tools on hand to do the job and that everyone in the house knows how to do this.
11. Keep an LED flashlight or a headlamp in a secure spot next to every bed.
12. Keep a spare set of keys by your bed, in case your other set is inaccessible or can’t be found due to fallen debris.
13. Have a lanyard that holds a simple photo I.D., including the address and phone number, for each member of the family. Keep each person’s lanyard by his or her bed, either in a drawer or hanging from a bedpost. Instruct kids to put theirs on in case of an earthquake or another emergency.
14. For very young children, buy a set of safety tattoos that you can quickly apply to an arm or a leg to help I.D. an injured or lost kid. Check out www.safetytat.com.
15. Stay calm. A terrified parent is going to send the kids right over the edge. Practice “survival breathing.”
16. Every framed photo and mirror on the wall presents a danger. If they fall off, the glass will shatter. Consider removing glass from all of the frames or replacing it with Plexiglas.
17. Broken gas lines and power lines can cause fires. Keep at least two or three fire extinguishers in the house. Know where they are and how to use them.
18. Know where the shut-off valve is for your neighbor’s natural gas line and how to turn off the neighbor’s electrical panel. If their house goes up in flames, chances are yours will, too.
19. A supply of dust face masks can help you breathe if the air is filled with smoke, dust, and other airborne particles. If you don’t have a dust mask, tie a T-shirt or another piece of fabric over your nose and mouth.
20. Keep a basic emergency kit at work to help you survive the quake and assist you with the basic supplies you’ll need to get home. As well, know multiple routes home and connect with others who live in your part of town. If several of you are traveling together, there’s safety in numbers.
21. Teach your kids to tap on anything within reach if they are ever trapped underneath furniture or other debris.
22. Bolt all tall pieces of furniture to the wall. It ain’t feng shui. It’s survival!