Preparing For An Earthquake A Complete Preparedness Checklist

An earthquake is a natural phenomenon, and it pertains to the sudden shaking of the earth

This is due to the shifting of the rock underneath the surface. This release of energy can create seismic waves that can range in size. Some areas can experience weak tremors that cannot be felt. 

At the same time, violent seismic activities can destroy even big cities. 

Any part of the world can experience an earthquake that strikes without prior notice. Although it comes without warning, several measures must be taken to minimize its effect. 

This is especially true for those who live in high-earthquake-risk areas. 

Thus, this article aims to introduce earthquake preparedness. This will tackle the things to get ready at the individual or household level.

Earthquake Preparedness

Preparing For An Earthquake A Complete Preparedness Checklist

Indeed, it is better to get ready whenever disaster strikes. 

Such is the case of Earthquake Preparedness, which pertains to a set of measures taken to minimize the terrible effects. The movement of the ground is seldom the cause of injuries and death of the people. 

Most of the time, it is due to the collapsing building, falling debris, and others. 

These examples can be prevented easily by following a few steps. 

Earthquake preparedness is taken at various levels, such as individual, household, organizational, or societal. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) describes this as a pyramid. According to the agency, the citizens are at the bottom of the pyramid.

Meanwhile, the government is situated at the top portion. Indeed, the administration has to oversee the safety of its citizens. This can be achieved through information dissemination and providing adequate resources for them. 

However, each individual has a role in achieving a safe environment whenever calamities strike. 

Now, check out the checklist below to equip the family before the earthquake attacks:

On-Hand Emergency Ideas

Sometimes we need to find out where and when an earthquake will occur. 

Thus, it is best to have on-hand emergency supplies at home, office, or car. This can be easily bought at local shops around the world. 

Here are some examples:


Preparing For An Earthquake A Complete Preparedness Checklist

Keep a supply of non-perishable food according to the family’s diet. 

Consider the food of the babies and those with special dietary restrictions. Make sure that it can be replenished regularly. 

Discard food that is already expired because this might cause further health problems. 

Opt for goods that last at least 72 hours, such as canned or dehydrated foods. Read the product labels to be guided accordingly. 

To have suitable sources of nutrients, have some dried fruits or cereals on the package too. In buying groceries, avoid foods that will make one thirsty. 

For example, opt for salt-free crackers, canned goods with high liquid content, and whole-grain cereals. Go with products that do not require extensive preparation. 

In times of disaster, one does not have the luxury of cooking food that needs long hours. 

However, prepare the essential kitchen utensils to aid in times of need. 

Examples of these are a knife and can opener.


Apart from the solids, store enough liquid for the family and at least 1 gallon of water per person daily. 

An active person will drink at least ½ gallon of drinking water daily. The need for water differs for every person depending on physical condition, diet, activity, climate, and health. 

Thus, children, pregnant and ill family members need more water. A hot and crowded environment may make one thirst and drink lots of water. 

Men can’t go for a few days without food but can survive longer with even water alone.

Bottled Water

Preparing For An Earthquake: A Complete Preparedness Checklist

Opt for bottled water during emergencies. 

Keep the water in its original container, and wait to open the seal until needed. Be aware of its expiration date and replenish it once the supply is depleted. 

Meanwhile, choose air-tight and food-grade water storage containers if one chooses to prepare his water supply. Clean it using water and soap. 

After that, store the water supplies in a cool dark place. Replace the water containers every six months.

Purifying Water

If in case that bottled water becomes unavailable, worry not because there are other ways to purify water and make it safe for drinking. 

The first method is boiling. Boiling is the safest method that is known to all humanity. Heat the water at a boiling point for up to one minute. 

Then, filter the water through a coffee filter or clean cloth. 

Another method is bleaching. Make sure not to use a color-safe, scented, or bleacher with added cleansers because the chemicals might harm the body. Put the bleach on the water, let it settle, and filter using a clean cloth or coffee. 

Although this is a suitable method of purifying water, some people do not like it since it produces a smell of chlorine, which they find rather frustrating. 

Lastly, one can disinfect the water with the use of disinfection tablets. It contains chemicals like iodine, chlorine, and other disinfectant agents. 

Just follow the instruction of the pills before putting them in the water.

Portable Radio, TV, and Some Batteries

After an earthquake, the signal may be jammed. Thus, telephones, cell phones, or other gadgets may lose connection. 

Having updates regarding the scenario in the area can be challenging. 

Even texting loved ones outside the home can be problematic, especially if the internet needs to be fixed. We have a portable radio, TV, and some batteries in this regard. 

With this, survivors can update the news regarding the incident and evacuate if it’s safe.

First Aid Kit plus the Manual

Maintain a first aid kit to tend to wounds or other illnesses. It shall contain some antibiotics, cotton, wound solution, and others. 

The equipment must also include a manual to be guided on responding accordingly. Orient each family member to know what to do, even if they are outside the home when an earthquake happens.

Fire Extinguishers

Have some fire extinguishers inside the home and even in the car. Fire extinguishers come for certain fires like gas, grease, or electrical fire. 

Meanwhile, Class ABC can be used for any kind of fire. Ask the local fire department to determine which product is the best for the household.

Flashlights and Extra Batteries

Preparing For An Earthquake: A Complete Preparedness Checklist

It is an excellent practice to keep a flashlight beside the bed. 

Have one too at the workplace and in the car. There can be power outages during calamities. 

Thus, a light source is essential. Also, this can signal some help for the rescuers, so make sure to have one permanently. 

Though a light source is essential during disasters, experts do not advise using candles and matches after an earthquake because gas leaks might be nearby. 

Invest in a powered generator inside the house for an unlimited power supply. This can store electricity for long hours and days. 

Electric gadgets can be charged, and one can communicate with loved ones and authorities when needed.

Special Needs

According to FEMA, having a supply of special needs items is appropriate. 

These are extra eyeglasses, medications, hearing aid batteries, sanitation items, and contact lens solutions. 

If there are babies, prepare the formula milk, pacifiers, bottles, and diapers in advance. 

For millennials, get some extra batteries, chargers, or portable internet for the gadgets. With this, one can be connected to the outside world, even if the connection becomes an issue. 

Also, this can help the household update with news and communicate with authorities.

Cash and Important Papers

The ATMs and banks might be closed after an earthquake. 

Thus, they have some cash or coins in their wallet. If one needs to be evacuated, there can be little spending on food, gas, etc. 

Also, ensure that the copies of credit and other essential documents like insurance policies and financial records are safe and easy to reach when needed.


After natural calamities, clothes are essential to keep one warm, especially in cold climates. 

Also, make sure that the beddings are clean and available when necessary. 

Some things to have in advance are a jacket, shirt, hat, gloves, pants, undergarments, shoes, socks, blankets, and sleeping bags.

Pet Needs

For those who have pets, identify a safe place for them. 

Gather the necessary supplies and see to it that it has an ID. Prepare the food, water, vitamins, or clothes. 

Furthermore, they should have a carrier or a leash to have them close when an aftershock strikes. Put them inside the cage when necessary. 

This is true for cats, hamsters, birds, and dogs. When the pet is lost, finding it might take time and effort. Thus, keep them as close as possible.


<h4>Tools</h4> <p>Prepare some essential tools inside the home or in the car. This includes a pipe wrench, adjustable/ crescent wrench, saw, and hammer. </p> <p>Prepare a whistle, matches, scissors, or lighter, and place it in a waterproof container.</p>

Prepare some essential tools inside the home or in the car. This includes a pipe wrench, adjustable/ crescent wrench, saw, and hammer. 

Prepare a whistle, matches, scissors, or lighter, and place it in a waterproof container.

Home Preparedness

When the earthquake happens, shut off the utility services of the home. Train each family member to turn off the electricity, gas, and water outlets. 

For more information, consult the local utilities near the area. Turn off all the water sources on the premises by locating the water meter box. 

One can find a valve that looks like the gas meter valve inside the meter box. Turn it in the same direction as one does in the gas meter. 

Meanwhile, do turn off the gas if the emergency exits. If it needs to be restored, have a professional do it instead.

Familiarize the Earthquake Drill

Apart from preparing the kit and the home before an earthquake strikes, familiarize yourself with the drill. 

With this, the family will be conditioned to react correctly and spontaneously whenever shaking happens. 

Here are some examples of how to do it:

When Indoors

Family members must know how to drop, cover, and hold on during an earthquake. Protecting in a safe spot is what’s recommended.
Examples of which are a sturdy table or against inside walls. 
Be aware of the danger spots near breaking window glass, falling mirrors, falling chimneys, and other unsecured types of furniture. It is not advisable to move immediately when covering since there is a high risk of encountering some injury. 
Assess the environment first, then proceed when it is safe. Make sure to use the elevators instead of the stairs. 
Protect the head with a pillow when one is in bed during the earthquake.

When Outdoors

If an earthquake happens and one is outdoors, place oneself in safe locations. 
This is true, especially for children. 
Be aware of a tsunami if one lives in a coastal area. There are communities with local tsunami hazard maps, so be familiar with that information. 
Move away from tall buildings, streetlights, electrical posts, and big trees. Stop as quickly as safety permits—pullover and stay inside the vehicle if one is driving his car. 
Don’t drive on bridges or overpasses that are deteriorating. If there is a severe medical emergency, send an emergency assistance request through the GPS tracking device or satellite messenger. 
Finally, train the family members on what to expect after an earthquake physically and emotionally. 
When trapped under debris, do not panic and think of an escape. Use a whistle, flashlight, or any gadgets on the body. 
As a last resort, shout when necessary to get people's attention nearby.

When the Earthquake Stops

Preparing For An Earthquake: A Complete Preparedness Checklist

When the earthquake stops, orient the family members to check if anyone has injuries. 

If someone has stopped breathing, give CPR, but follow the guidelines set by the American Heart Association. 

If there is any bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound. Do not move any person who is seriously injured. Cover them with blankets to keep them warm while medical assistance is on the way. 

Report the emergency immediately to medical personnel. Send a message or call them. 

Put out small fires that one can see or smell. If it’s impossible to put out the fire, call the fire department for help. Inspect the home for other possible damages with the use of a flashlight. 

Do not touch the broken appliances or downed lines because this might cause electrocution. Clean up the spilled gasoline and other flammable liquids to prevent injuries. 

Avoid driving or going sightseeing on damaged properties. Do not interfere with the relief and rescue efforts of the authorities. 

Stay inside instead, and protect the members of the household. 

Lastly, prepare for any aftershocks. The aftershocks can be less violent than the main ones. 

However, there are instances when aftershocks cause additional damage to the properties and the death of loved ones.

Plan to Reunite

Whenever the family members were outside the home when the earthquake happened, prepare a place to reunite. 

Take the food, water, and other necessities. Bring cash, gadgets, and other essential documents. 

Some reunion points are the home, neighbors, school, or community centers. If family members are missing, keep calm and wait for them at the reunion points. 

If communication is impossible and the member is still missing, report the issue to the authorities to ask for assistance.

Check for Hazards 

  • Put out tiny fires. If not, leave your house immediately, tell your neighbors, and call the fire department.
  • To check out your home, use a flashlight that runs on batteries. Before going inside, turn on the flashlight outside since the batteries could spark and start a gas leak if one exists.
  • Check for damage to the water, gas, and electrical systems, as well as the appliances. You should close the main valve from the outside if you smell gas or spot a broken line. Restarting the electricity should wait until the power provider first inspects your house. Keep in mind that to restart the gas, a specialist is required. Don't use a lit match to look for gas leaks. 

Use caution when using switches or appliances if you suspect gas leaks since sparks can cause gas from broken pipes to ignite.

  • If the wiring in your home has been damaged, turn off the electricity. If you feel unsafe, leave your house and call for assistance.
  • Avoid touching downed power lines or broken equipment.
  • Look for damage and cracks in the building, especially near chimneys and masonry walls. If the structure collapses, leave right away. Use replacement parts only if the chimney is undamaged and unbroken.
  • Clean up spilled liquids, including gasoline, bleach, and prescription medications.
  • Before using the toilet, ensure the water and sewage pipes are secure. Drain plugs can be placed in the sink and bathtub.
  • Check your food and water supplies. If the water is switched off, use emergency supplies such as melted ice cubes and water heaters. All potentially rotten or tainted food should be thrown away.
  • Examine the cabinets and closets. Open doors with caution. Watch out for items falling off shelves.
  • Grills made of charcoal or gas should only be used outside for emergency cooking.
  • Unless there is an emergency, avoid driving. Stay away from damaged areas for sightseeing. You won't help the relief effort at all. Maintain a clear path for emergency vehicles to travel on the roadways.
  • Be ready for aftershocks. These quakes are usually not as intense as the primary ones, but they can still weaken structures and inflict further damage. Unless specifically instructed by police, fire, or relief organizations, stay away from damaged areas.


Preparing For An Earthquake: A Complete Preparedness Checklist

In a nutshell, an earthquake is inevitable. 

However, we can mitigate its effects on the family and the community with preparation. Japan has lovely mitigating plans which the United States can adapt accordingly. 

As a country in the Pacific Ring of Fire, its goals are not to stop earthquakes but to go with its flow. 

The tips mentioned above are some of the most common things experts recommend. There are more actions to take, but it all depends on the strategies of the family. 

Always remember to put your mind above all else. After all, the life of our family members is essential. 

So, be sure to take all possible means to prevent the injury or death of a loved one. Surviving an earthquake is easy if we can learn to react accordingly.


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