Earthquake Preparation: The Complete Checklist


Earthquake preparation needs to be a consistent drill for everyone. But especially for these folks who live in areas known for high seismic activity.

Earthquakes are almost unpredictable natural disasters that have the nasty habit of taking everyone by surprise. The best that science could give us is a 5 to 60 second warning before the earth starts shaking.

Are you ready for a possible earthquake? Here’s a preparedness assessment checklist for anyone living in the seismic region.


Earthquake Preparation Before the Earth Quivers

Earthquake Preparation Kit Checklist: Disaster Preparedness Checklist
  • For All, Journals (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 103 Pages - 08/14/2017 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

The best time to prepare for an earthquake, or any natural disaster, is right now. The goal is to survive the event, and keep on living autonomously for around two weeks. This is the average time it takes the authorities to bring back the utilities to a semi-functional condition.

ruined house after earthquake

Fortify Your House


The International Building Code currently mandates that all new constructions follow seismic design standards. This minimizes the possibility of collapsing walls or foundations, even with violent quakes.

Buildings erected before 1974 didn’t need to follow such mandates or guidelines. Which puts these facilities and their occupants in grave danger, even at low powered earthquakes. There’s a solution for most of these buildings though, as it’s possible to retrofit them with steel beams.


Bolt Loose Fittings in Place


As the earth starts shaking, shelves, light fixtures, furniture, equipment, water reservoirs, heaters, and ornaments fall all over the place. These objects could cause serious injuries, so it’s best to secure everything in place.

In addition, as you arrange your stuff on shelves or inside cupboards, try to keep the heavy containers on the lower shelves, and the harmless lightweight things on the upper shelves. Also,  keep your bedroom free from clutter, especially the space above your bed.


Get the Right Insurance Policy


Regular insurance policies rarely cover the damages caused by earthquakes. That’s why you need to ask about one that includes reimbursement in case of that type of natural disaster. Try to be as thorough as possible and always read the fine print!


Document Your Belongings


Insurance claims could take forever in case you can’t prove ownership of the items listed. A smart way of doing that is by filming all the items in the house with a mobile phone. You can do this on a monthly basis to provide a recent record of what’s in the house.

If all your documents are in good order, chances are that your claim would be processed quickly. And then, you can get the reimbursement necessary for fixing and renovating the house.


Stock Up for Two Weeks

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Various governmental organizations and NGOs issued their recommendations of what to stock in case of natural disasters. The listed items are typically non-perishable and could easily be stored for prolonged amounts of time.


food stock

Some of these items include:

  • Food
  • Drinking water
  • Water for washing up
  • Medications
  • First-aid kit
  • Sanitary products
  • Torches
  • A mobile phone with an extra battery
  • A radio plus needed batteries
  • Pet food
  • Prescription glasses
  • Can openers
  • Change of clothing
  • A pair of shoes
  • Blankets for each family member
  • Plastic sheets and duct tape
  • Books, puzzles, and little toys for children
  • Photocopies of important documents

These items need to be routinely checked for expiration and functionality. It’s essential to cover everything in waterproof plastic wrapping. That’s in case there’s a breakage in the water wipes or a flood.


Prepare for Gas Leaks and Little Fires

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Gas leaks are among the primary reasons fires break out during natural disasters. Thus, it’s essential to install manual or automatic shutoff valves at the input of the line and before it feeds the meter.

Additionally, you should keep fire extinguishers near your kitchen and beside the exit points of the house. As you save up water for drinking and sanitation, it’s also a good idea to keep some aside for putting out small fires.


Keep Survival Kits in Various Locations

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People never know where they’d be when an earthquake happens. That’s why it’s wise to keep a survival kit in the most frequented locations. Also, you might want to prepare duffle bags for quick action, in case you have to leave the house in a rush.

Homes top the list, naturally, but offices and cars are also places where a person could be stranded. And having sufficient food, water, first-aid kits, and other amenities could be a true lifesaver at these moments of distress.


Earthquake Preparation in the Middle of the Incident


There’s a saying that we don’t rise to the demands of a dire situation, but often fall to our basic skills. In other words, we resort to the habits we’re used to. Thus, being well trained to act rationally within various dangerous scenarios is an invaluable survival skill.


At Home


If you can reach the gas valve then go for it and turn it off. Then, try to look for a solid table or desk and hide under it. Doorways are no longer sturdy structures, and you could be around other sliding objects.

Avoid using elevators, standing in a crowded room, or being around windows. These are by far the most dangerous places.


Down the Street


If you’re running errands and the world starts shaking, then steer clear from power lines, billboards, trees, traffic lights, and poles of any kind. Also, don’t stand on or near a manhole.

Bear in mind that people could really panic at these times, so drivers and pedestrians might not act in predictable manners. Just be more careful than usual.

Find a safe spot that’s far from all the above risk factors, and crouch low near the ground. This would minimize the chances of falling and getting injured.


In the Car


Besides the above-mentioned risk factors, cars should also avoid going on bridges of any kind. These structures could fracture, break, or fall off during an earthquake. Especially if they were built prior to 1974.

You don’t need to drive all the way back home. Just look for a safe parking spot and stay there till the quake ends.


By the Beach

ruined house after tsunami


Earthquakes often create seismic waves that could build up into tsunami waves. This horrific event has already happened in Asia several times causing varying levels of devastation. One of them is Japan’s tsunami of 2011.

Thus, if you’re lounging on a nice beach, or live around the coast, then seek elevated ground right away.


Earthquake Preparation After the Event


Earthquakes last for minutes each time, but they could cause devastation beyond the imagination in this short duration. It’s also customary to get aftershocks and tremors after a major earthquake.

Thus, emergency preparedness should continue for a while to deal with any upcoming events or current damages.


Seek Safety

Wherever you are, your first priority should be to find a safe location. This also includes having easy access to food, water, and warmth.


Check Your House for Damages

Your house might’ve suffered some damages like broken glass, water leakage, or a broken chimney. It’s best to take stock of all that right away.

If you can perform quick fixes, do that right away. Also, remove any shards of glass or other shrapnel to avoid unnecessary injuries to anyone.


Look for the Survival Kit

Find the survival items and try to give your family a sense of security by providing food, drinks, warmth, light, and some form of communication.

Young children and older people are particularly prone to anxiety attacks. So pay special attention to them.


Deal With Any Small Fires as Soon as They Occur

Fires, gas leakages, water leakages, and other damages are quite possible during earthquakes. Try to deal with these issues early on before they get bigger and become unmanageable.

Bear in mind that the emergency, fire department, and police services might not be available for 10-20 days after a natural disaster.

a man putting out a small fires

In Conclusion

9.0 Cascadia Earthquake Survival: How to Survive the Coming Megathrust Quake That Will Devastate the Pacific Northwest
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9.0 Cascadia Earthquake Survival: How to Survive the Coming Megathrust Quake That Will Devastate the Pacific Northwest
  • Brindle, Damian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 136 Pages - 06/05/2018 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

Earthquake preparation might sound like an ominous or extra cautious measure. But in fact, it’s an essential procedure to keep yourself and the people around you safe and sound.

There are some basic recommendations, like keeping a survival kit, but we prefer to go the extra mile. Getting the house fortified, bolting the shelves in place, and having the right insurance policy are all wise actions that don’t cost much, and save a lot more.