Do you know what to do if there is an earthquake?


Living in Southern California, a large earthquake affecting our region is not an “if” but a “when.” We all know “The Big One” could hit any day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re prepared. In the event of an earthquake, do you know what to do? I’ve found some tips to help you, your family, and your home prepare for when the shaking starts.

How to Prepare an Earthquake Kit


You should have an earthquake kit in your home, car, and your office. You need to be prepared to survive up to 7 days off the food and supplies in your kit. Your kit should include:

  • Non-perishable packaged or canned food

  • A gallon of water a day, per person (Replace supply every six months and count pets as family members)
  • Manual can opener

  • First aid kit and handbook

  • Clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes

  • Blankets or sleeping bags

  • Portable radio and flashlight, with spare batteries

  • Essential medications

  • List of family physicians as well as the style and serial number of medical devices, such as a pacemaker
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

  • Extra set of house/car keys

  • Toilet paper, toiletries and feminine hygiene products

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Pet food, water and leash/carrier

  • Cash and change

  • Any special food or supplies for babies, the disabled or the elderly
  • Plastic utensils, paper cups and plates

  • Paper towels

  • Knife and/or razor blades

  • Candles, light sticks

  • Matches in a waterproof container

  • Small tool kit

  • Local street map and compass

  • Paper, pens, pencils and stamps

  • Entertainment pack of family photos, notebooks, reading material and games

This kit should be stored somewhere convenient, such as a pantry or hall closet. If you store it in an attic or garage, you run the risk of not being able to access it when you most need it.

What To Do During An Earthquake

Wherever you are during an earthquake, remember to Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

  • Drop to the ground.

  • Cover your head and neck with your arms, and if a safer place is nearby that you can get to without exposing yourself to flying debris, crawl to it.

  • Hold On to maintain cover.

If you’re inside a building, get under a sturdy object if possible. If there is nothing nearby, crawl away from windows, next to an interior wall. Stay away from windows, glass, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as light fixtures or furniture.

Stay where you are until the shaking stops.

If you are in bed when you feel the shaking, stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow.

If you’re outside when the earthquake hits, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once you’re in the open, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Stay there until the shaking stops.

If you are in a moving vehicle during an earthquake, stop as quickly as possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, bridges, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

How To Tell If Your Home is Earthquake-Proof

A single-story, wood-framed house is the safest option in an earthquake. But that doesn’t mean you have to move if your home is two stories or not wood-framed. Your home will be relatively safe in an earthquake if the following is true:

  • The house has a properly installed poured-concrete foundation with no cracks

  • The home is bolted to the foundation and adequately braced

  • All appliances and cabinets are bolted to the wall

Take a walk around your house and make sure your home is up to par according to these rules.


If your foundation is crumbling, your home is either made of brick, is not bolted, or you might not be safe.

How To Make Your Home Earthquake Safe

If you have an older home, or found any of the problems listed above, you should consider getting your house earthquake retrofitted. Retrofitting will keep your home from being displaced from its concrete foundation, making the building safer and less prone to major structural damage during an earthquake. Older homes often need to be retrofitted because they were built before the current knowledge of earthquake-safe construction.

Typically, this includes the construction of a cripple wall to reinforce the foundation.


Hopefully, you now feel ready and prepared for an earthquake when it hits. If you need references for a retrofitting company, let me know!