How to Prepare for a Major Earthquake

California is long overdue for a major earthquake. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the San Andreas fault and six other significant fault lines cross through and around the Bay Area alone.

According to Earthquake Track, there were a total of 867 earthquakes in California last week. That’s an average of close to 124 earthquakes per day.

While most of these earthquakes were minor, some have been up to or close to a magnitude of 5.8. According to CBS SF Bay Area, a 4.4 magnitude earthquake struck near University of California, Berkeley earlier this month. To put that into perspective, Berkeley is about 42 miles away from San Jose.

According to CNBC, a major earthquake along the San Andreas fault could cause $300 billion in damage, so preparation is key.

“As a state, California is probably one of the better-prepared places on Earth in terms of preparation for earthquakes,” said Mary Comerio, past president of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and a University of California-Berkeley professor specializing in disaster recovery and reconstruction. Despite this, it is crucial for individuals to be prepared as well.

    1. Identify hazards in your home
      • Potential hazards can include glass, heavy objects on high shelves or above where people sit and sleep, ceiling fixtures, cracks in ceilings or foundation, unsecured furniture, defective electrical wiring and gas connections and flammable household products.
    2. Identify safe places to be during an earthquake
      • Safe indoor places to be during an earthquake are under sturdy furniture or against a wall. Stay away from where objects, glass, etc. could fall. If you are outside, find an open area away from buildings, telephone wires, etc.
    3. Make a disaster kit
      • A typical disaster kit might include flashlights, a portable radio, a first aid kit, medications and other medical necessities, money, sturdy shoes and warm clothing, food and water and a fire extinguisher.
    4. Talk to your parents and family about an emergency plan
      • Decide on a place for family members to meet at if seperated. Arrange a family member to be the designated emergency contact (preferably someone out of state) and make sure that all family members have their contact information.
    5. What to do if driving during an earthquake
      • Pull over out of traffic and get out of the car and try to stay away from anything that could potentially fall around you or your car. If possible, avoid stopping on or under bridges and overpasses.
    6. How to keep your pets safe
      • Confirm that your pets have collars with your contact information and consider getting them tracking microchips. Take note of where your pets usually hide so you can find them more quickly in an emergency and make a disaster kit with food, water, necessary medications and a copy of medical/vaccination history forms.
    7. After an earthquake
      • Take your disaster kit and get to a safe location and avoid driving so that emergency vehicles have clear pathways on the road. Have an adult turn off the gas valves if you smell gas and turn off the power if there is damage to electrical wiring. Once in a safe location, listen to your portable radio for information about the next steps to take to stay safe.

All photos courtesy of Christina Dobbek