Earthquake Readiness


You can improve the odds of your home surviving an earthquake by taking these precautions, but you won’t make it quake-proof. Nor do these measures guarantee your safety. Earthquakes strike with no warning, so take these additional steps to protect yourself and your family as fully as possible:

Teach everyone to duck or drop to the floor, take cover under a desk or table and hold on to it when earthquake strikes. Remember the phrase: Duck, cover and hold.

Become familiar with your community’s disaster preparedness plans and create a family plan. Identify escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place for the family to reunite if you become separated. Also establish a contact point to communicate with concerned relatives.

Make certain all adult and teenage members of the family know where your gas, electric and water main shutoff controls are and how to turn them off if there is a leak or electrical short. Keep necessary wrenches close by. It is worthwhile having an automatic gas shut off valve installed . Double click on the red text to find out more.

Put together an emergency kit that includes a three-day supply of drinking water and food you don’t have to refrigerate or cook; first aid supplies; a portable NOAA weather radio; a wrench and other basic tools; a flashlight; work gloves; emergency cooking equipment; portable lanterns; fresh batteries for each piece of equipment; clothing; blankets; baby items; prescription medications; extra car and house keys; extra eyeglasses; credit cards and cash; important documents, including insurance policies.


If you are indoors when an earthquake strikes, stay there. Move away from windows, skylights, doors and things that could fall. Duck, cover and hold until the shaking stops.

If you are outdoors, move quickly and safely into the open, away from electrical lines, trees and buildings. Drop to the ground and wait for the shaking to stop.

If you are driving, carefully and slowly bring your vehicle to a stop at the side of the road away from traffic. Do not stop on or under bridges, under power lines or near roadway signs that might fall. Once the shaking has stopped, you can continue driving, but watch carefully for possible damage to the roadway.


Check for gas or water leaks and electrical shorts, and turn off damaged utilities. Don’t try to turn them back on yourself, however. Have the fire department or gas and electric companies turn the utilities back on when the area is secure.

Obey evacuation orders from local authorities.

Be prepared for aftershocks. For more information about protecting your family and home from earthquakes, check this other publication from the Institute for Business & Home Safety:


A Homeowners’ Guide to Earthquake Retrofit INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Anchor bookcases and filing cabinets to nearby walls.

Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors to keep contents from spilling.

Install ledge barriers on shelves, place heavy items on lower shelves, and secure large, heavy items and breakables directly to shelves to keep them from falling.

Use closed screw-eyes and wire to securely attach pictures and mirrors to the walls.

Attach computers and small appliances to desks, tables or countertops.

Secure ceiling lights, suspended ceilings and other hanging items such as chandeliers and plants to the permanent structure of your house.

Apply safety film to windows and glass doors.

Anchor large appliances to walls using safety cables or straps. Lock the rollers of any large appliances or pieces of furniture.

Secure water heater(s) to nearby walls.

Fit all gas appliances with flexible connections and/or a breakaway gas shut-off device, or install a main gas shut-off device. (Check your local building codes to determine whether you may install flexible connectors yourself or whether a professional must install them.)