How to Be Prepared for the Next Big Earthquake

Living in Southern California means that I am perpetually afraid of the ‘Big One’ (which is regional speak for earthquake). However, instead of dealing with this fear in a practical way, I tend to just worry over what will happen when the San Andreas Fault actually splits open. But, there are tons of ways you can actually prepare yourself for the next earthquake (no matter how big or small it is). Here are some steps you should take to make sure you’re ready when the ground starts shaking.

1. Come up with a plan.

The number one most helpful step in preparing for an emergency? Having a plan. Create an emergency plan with your family (or your friends if you live on your own). This can include how you’ll plan on reaching each other if cell service is down and/or a place to meet up when it’s safe. It’s also a good idea to come up with an out-of-state contact that can serve as a check-in person for families to turn to in crisis. Red Cross even has an earthquake app that can help you connect with friends and family after a quake occurs. Remember that text messages often go through even if your call doesn’t work, so try that if you’re working on reaching someone. Practice implementing your plan, so that you can work out any kinks before an actual emergency arises.

2. Have emergency supplies.

Part of your plan should include having enough emergency supplies to last you (or you and your family) until you can reach an evacuation center or can be rescued by authorities. Wise Food Storage has a number of emergency supply kits available online that come with essentials like a radio, an emergency candle, a 16-function knife, and a poncho with a hood. These types of kits should provide your household with some peace of mind that you’ll be able to get by before help arrives.

It’s also super important to have an emergency supply of food. Wise Food has options that can last you anywhere from 24 hours to 1 month. You can order freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, breakfasts, and entrees that can help keep you nourished and well-fed until the crisis is averted. Want to save on the costs for your prep? Use a Wise Food Storage coupon code at checkout for major savings!

3. Know how to keep yourself safe.

Try to be informed about general aspects of earthquake safety. If you’re outside, avoid bridges, overpasses, and parking garages. Move away from cliffs or steep embankments that could result in a landslide. If possible, move to an open area, away from buildings and utility wires. If you’re driving, stay in your car until the shaking stops.

Inside when a tremor hits? You should try to get away from any objects that could fall, including lamps, mirrors, or hanging art. If you’re out and about, always remember to use the stairs instead of the elevators, and as calmly as possible exit any public place you may be in. If possible, duck under a table or desk, and cover your head and neck.

4. Think about the little things.

Part of your plan should include having in your mind little tricks that will keep you safe. For example, know exactly where the fire extinguisher is in your home (it’s best to have 2: one in the kitchen and one near the garage). You should close your blinds at night to make sure breaking glass won’t hit you while you’re in bed. You could even try to have your bed positioned as far away from the window as possible to avoid flying glass. Keep flashlights in every room of the house, and stash a pair of hard-soled shoes (like sneakers) underneath your bed, so you can put them on if you need to walk safely through debris. Although these steps may seem minor, they can add to your safety during an earthquake.

5. Know how to turn off your utilities.

When an earthquake occurs, it’s crucial to know how and when to turn off your utilities. With the gas, turn it off only if you hear hissing or actually smell something. To shut if off, turn the valve until it’s perpendicular to the pipe. The downside is you’ll need to have the gas company come out to turn it back on, since only trained technicians can restart it. For electricity, immediately switch your power off at the main breaker or fuse box if you see sparks or damaged wires or smell burning insulation. If the outage is happening for a long period of time, leave a single light circuit on. For your water, turn it off if there’s a leakage or any possible chance that water lines suffered damage. You can reach out to your water company to find out when it’s okay to turn it back on.

So, put together your plan, and you’ll know you can stay safe when the next bout of shaking happens!

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