Tips for preparing for earthquakes

July 28, 2015

If you live in an earthquake zone, it's important you take precautions before, during and after an earthquake happens. Here are tips to keep you and your family safe.

Tips for preparing for earthquakes

Have an engineer inspect your home

  •  If you live in an earthquake zone, have a structural engineer examine your house — especially if it is old — to determine whether or not it is sound enough to survive a quake. You may need to add extra bracing and foundation bolts or have the chimney reinforced.
  • Also, it's a good idea to have flexible gas connectors installed where gas lines meet appliances; they'll be far less likely to pull apart in an earthquake.

Do-it-yourself precautions

  • Put secure latches on your cabinet doors to keep them from opening during a quake (you don't want your fine china and treasures to fly across the room).
  • Stabilize your water heater by wrapping it with steel plumber's strap and attaching the strap to wall studs.
  • Anchor top-heavy furniture like bookcases by attaching it to a wall with L-shaped brackets.
  • Lock the rollers on your refrigerator or on any other appliance or piece of furniture that has casters.
  • Learn how to turn off the gas, water and electric power where these utilities enter the house.
  • Keep an emergency care kit on hand.
  • Keep an inventory list. Take photos of your house and everything inside, or, better yet, videotape it. If an earthquake causes damage, you may need proof of your home's condition and contents to justify insurance claims or tax deductions.
  • Don't enter the house until the authorities tell you it's safe to go inside. And when you do go in, move slowly and keep your eyes open. Check floors, walls, foundations and chimneys for cracks. Look for damage to electric wires, water pipes, and gas lines. Open closets carefully to check for leaks or damage.
  • Animals often get wild after an earthquake. If your pet seems agitated, don't approach it too suddenly and don't touch it or it may lash out and bite or scratch. Stay at a safe distance and to one side, and speak calmly and reassuringly. If it calms down, approach it slowly. If your pet keeps acting erratically, try to isolate it until it recovers from the fright caused by the quake.


  • Stand in a sturdy interior doorway or against an inside wall, if you're in a building. Alternatively, get under a bed, desk or sturdy table.
  • If you're outdoors, move away from buildings, power lines, utility wires and anything that may topple. Stay in the open until the shaking stops.
  • Turn on a local TV or radio station to get up-to-the-minute reports on safety after the quake.
  • Be wary of aftershocks, which can occur minutes, days or weeks after the main quake. If you feel one starting, seek cover.
  • Extinguish any small fires. Call the fire department to put out larger ones.
  • Check yourself for injuries, and then check others, providing any needed first aid or calling for a rescue squad. Don't move an injured person unless she is in immediate danger of further injury.


  • Use elevators.
  • Go outdoors.
  • Stand near or hide under windows, ceiling fixtures, mirrors, china closets, masonry walls or chimneys.
  • Remain in low-lying areas (especially if you live near water). Get to higher ground quickly — quakes can cause flooding.
  • Get out of the vehicle if you're driving. Stop in open areas. If you're on a bridge or overpass, drive off of it into an open space.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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