INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: Earthquake Survival for your Head, Feet, & Eyes

image by bjornmeansbear

When an earthquake shakes and rattles your world, there are three parts of your body that are particularly vulnerable: your head, feet, and eyes.  When the earth shakes, everything shakes, and that includes shelves, cupboards, appliances, mirrors, office equipment, and anything mounted on a wall.  As those things come tumbling down, and shattering, not only are you dealing with the fear factor but also dodging falling objects and trying to get to safety quickly.

An earthquake doesn’t announce itself like a hurricane, so when you begin feeling tremors, you have only seconds to act.  To protect your head, along with the rest of your body, dive under the nearest sturdy table or desk.  Once the rattling stops, you’re still not safe from falling beams, ceiling tiles, light fixtures, etc.  Believe it or not, an inexpensive hard hat, stored in an accessible location, may turn out to be your best friend.  You’d be surprised by how many injuries during an earthquake are caused, not by people falling through fissures in the earth (that’s 100% Hollywood!) but by the ordinary injury of being knocked on the head by a lamp or a flying copy of a Tom Clancy book.

Anything breakable is a likely casualty during an earthquake, and as heart-breaking as it might be to discover the shattered remains of your favorite china or Grandma’s collection of porcelain dolls, a more serious casualty could be your feet.  Unless you wear shoes 24/7, there’s a good chance you’ll be barefoot.  Many earthquake-savvy Californians have learned to always keep a pair of shoes at their bedside, specifically for this reason.  If your feet are cut and bleeding, you’ll have a much harder time getting to safety, much less helping other members of your family.  Here’s where a pair of Crocs might come in handy.  Love ’em or hate ’em, they are great for slipping on, they’re wide enough to allow for thick socks (important if you’re dealing with chilly temperatures), and because of their sizing and design, it takes a while for kids to outgrow them.  No, they aren’t Red Wing work boots, but neither are they $200+.   If you have panicking children nearby, your first thought will be to get to them, even if it means walking over broken glass, so protect those feet!

So how is protecting your eyes important in an earthquake?  Well, I’m not going to suggest having safety goggles handy, but I am highly recommending keeping a pair of eyeglasses or your contact lens case close by, always.  I’m particularly sensitive to this because one thing you probably don’t know about me is that my eyes are about as sharp as a naked mole rat’s.  One optometrist told me that my vision was in the 20/800 range (compare those numbers to the ideal 20/20).  In layman’s terms, that’s blind!  If you wear contacts or eyeglasses, even if your vision is better than mine, you absolutely must have your glasses or contacts within arm’s reach, especially at night. When the earth starts shaking and you hear glass breaking (and kids screaming), you can’t afford to be stumbling around, unable to see potential hazards.  If you can’t see those hazards, you may be in more danger than you realize.  Make it a habit to keep those eyeglasses or your contact case right next to your bedside, and preferably in a drawer where they can’t slide off.

For more information about preparing for an earthquake, check out these links.

Not-Just-For-Alaska Earthquake Survival

Protect Yourself During an Earthquake

Seven Ways to Prepare for an Earthquake

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2010 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

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  1. Kandi says

    Nice post. I actually have gone through a couple of earthquakes, one a major one. You are right, there will be broken glass EVERYWHERE! And it will probably be pitch dark. When everything quit rolling around my bed had 'walked' away from its original position. I have seen somewhere little pouches that velcro to your headboard to keep your glasses at hand.

  2. Dagny says

    With 20/500 eyes, I can't imagine not having my glasses on my nightstand (next to my cell phone) and slippers (LL Bean "comfort mocs") next to the bed. The helmet hadn't occurred to me (am not in earthquake country). Those who are in earthquake country and who have bikes could keep their bike helmets nearby. They should also have a "go bag" within reach (put wallet and car keys in it at night, thumb drive with personal info, insurance, etc)

    This scenario also argues for keeping more stuff in your vehicle. And should peops in earthquake country keep one of their vehicles out of the garage to protect it from collapse? I've got waterproof hiking boots in my car, along with a few pair of socks (light hiking socks and ski socks). I also have an extra pair of glasses in my car. It's quite a spacious SUV (Honda Element) and I keep what anyone not into preparedness (or camping) would consider a ridiculous amount of stuff in it: parka, light jackets, fleece, pants, underwear, toiletries (stored in backpacks inside two 99-gallon Rubbermaid Action-Packers — the backseats are out), hiking poles, First Aid, survival gear (firestarters, water purification tablets, potassium iodide tablets, etc), Kelly Kettle (for boiling water), bottled water, energy bars, jerky, nuts. And the usual car gear — flashlights/headlamps, maps, jumper cables, tire air compressor….

    Here are my "slippers." Sturdy and comfy slip-ons from LL Bean.

  3. LizLong says

    Critters may be weird too. In LA, we had a rattlesnake outside our door when I lived up in the hills on a normal day. Wildfires drove them out en masse when it was over. Coyotes were around. Black Widows, which normally stay hidden at least a little bit. All kinds of unpleasant critters may be either forced out of their homes and cranky as a result of the quakes.

    Putting window film on your ideas is an anti-theft thing you can do, but it also means the shards of glass would be held together on the doors and windows (not in your now-bloody feet) after a quake. You can even buy UV-rated films that will keep your house cooler, make it harder to see in, etc.

  4. Pam says

    We used to live in Southern California and we lived through many earthquakes! We did several things to prepare for earthquakes. I definitely agree about keeping slip on shoes near the bed…we also kept a robe or jacket at the end of the bed, too. We kept a couple of plastic tubs outside of our home filled with food and supplies for a week. We kept it outside just in case the house came down. We also kept a bug out bag in our vehicles filled with water, energy bars, shoes, blanket, etc. Just in case we had to walk home.

  5. says

    I went on a "tour" of the destruction after the Northridge Earthquake…. just about 2 hours after it hit. I was looking for places where I might be of help. Fortunately, the buildings that collapsed, aside from Northridge Meadows, were largely unoccupied. I found no one that didn't already have help, even so soon afterwards.

    In my exploration, I came across the Kaiser building, which had suffered a single floor collapse at or around the 3rd floor. When they had stripped off the outer sheathing prior to demolition, I could see every floor in the building…. I'm talking about the concrete beams and slabs, pillars…. imagine skinning a modern building and that's what you'd have. I noticed the the upper few floors had settled on the debris of the collapsed floor. It was almost squished flat. I say ALMOST.

    It is true what is said. The gaps created in the collpase can sustain life. You see, between those floors were closets, desks, chairs, tables, cubicles, printer cabinets….. and all of those held up all of THAT. The furniture, movable and permanent (heh, permanent, yeah….) were supporting the entirety of the building above.

    People that ducked and covered, had they been in the building, may have survived the collapse. Sorry for the long comment, but I felt it needed the treatment,

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