BEFORE an Earthquake!

Cars covered in building debris on February 22, 2011. Photo / Getty Images

How much do you know about preparing for, reacting during, and responding after an earthquake?  You might not live in an earthquake prone area, but mostly likely, you will travel through one at some point.  Knowing what to do might save your life.  Practicing and talking about it with your family might save their lives.  It's worth a few minutes to review. 

This is the first post in a series of three to help you prepare for an earthquake.  Look for a post on responding DURING an earthquake tomorrow.


1. Have a supply of food and water on hand. 
New Zealand still doesn't have water to 80 percent of Christchurch.1  Even if your home and workplace aren't damaged, your area might not have water or food available because of broken water lines and destroyed roads.

2. Keep a pair of shoes and flashlight by each bed.
I confess that I still haven't done this.  My boys move through shoe sizes too quickly (which is just an excuse).  They also tend to take the flashlights if they are so easily available.  I do have a pair of shoes by my bed.  Having shoes and a flashlight easily available makes it safer to navigate floors covered with debris and glass after an earthquake during the night.

3. Evaluate your home and workplace for hazards.
Bolt heavy, tall objects to the wall with earthquake brackets.  Move large pictures away from beds.  Add latches to your cupboards.  Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.  (More here:  How to secure your furniture - Utah State Seismic Commission)

4. Practice occasionally.
It would make a good Family Home Evening lesson to review things as a family periodically.  My 12 year-old son and I sat at the computer looking at pictures of the earthquake in New Zealand.2  I specifically pointed out all of the building fronts that had collapsed.  We talked about the dangers of running out of a building because of this.  I could tell that it sunk in with him differently than it had previously.  Take the time to use teaching moments with your kids. 

More information on preparing for an earthquake and teaching your kids can be found here from the Utah State Seismic Commission:
Tips for preparing children
Preparing your family for an earthquake
Tips for the elderly

1 - Christchurch earthquake: Latest updates
2 - Christchurch earthquake: Images of devastation
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