How to Prepare for an Earthquake

Several years ago, while I was living in California, I experienced my first earthquake. It wasn’t a large-scale event, but it was strong enough (4.2) to feel it in our apartment that morning. Since that time, my wife and I and our three kids have gone back to California several times for our family vacations. This got me thinking, how can we be prepared for an earthquake, should one occur?

To be prepared for an earthquake, you should do the following:

1- Have a plan

Whether you live in a high-risk area or are just visiting, you should have an action plan. If the earthquake hits while you are at home, work or around town, you should be aware of your surroundings. This is important because if you are in a building when an earthquake hits, you’ll want to get yourself under a large desk/table or in the doorway to prevent objects from falling on you. Practice the “DCH” or Drop, Cover and Hold technique.

Drop:
Drop to the floor. This will prevent you from losing your balance and uncontrollably falling where you could hit your head. On the floor with four points of contact you will be able to move around with more control.

Cover:
Cover your head with your arms and get under a table, desk or doorway. By doing this, you’ll prevent other objects from falling on top of you or have some protection should a falling object strike you.

Hold:
Once you’re under the doorway or desk, you should hold on to something stable to help support yourself and prevent you from being bounced out into the open where you are at risk of falling objects.

Once the earthquake has stopped, you should have a rendezvous point where you can meet up with other family members. This is where you can access if everyone is accounted for, and if someone is missing, you’ll know who.

Simply having a plan is not enough. Practice executing the plan with your family members. Explain to your kids what an earthquake is and what each family member will need to do, should one occur. This should be done whether you are visiting an area even if you don’t have earthquakes where you’re from. Can you imagine what it would be like as a kid, having never been explained to what an earthquake is and what you need to do? You would probably think it was the end of the world. All of a sudden, the ground starts shaking and pictures start falling from the wall; I would have nightmares for months afterwards.  Be prepared and help educate your kids so that they can be prepared also.

2- Know CPR

Because of the extreme dangers associated with earthquakes, you and your family members should be familiar with BLS. You might need to help others around you with their injuries.

 

BLS/CPR:
Basic Life Support. BLS training is required for health care professionals and other professionals that work in an environment where CPR may be needed. CPR is used to help a person whose heart has stopped beating properly, or who has stopped breathing, and can triple a victim’s chance of survival when initiated quickly after onset.

breath again in the event of a person suffering from cardiac arrest or any other type of injury which results in a person not breathing.

Remember the CAB’s to CPR to help you remember the proper steps. They are:

Chest Compressions: Begin with chest compressions. Compressions will immediately start to circulate the blood, moving it to the brain as well as the lungs where it can pick up the residual oxygen that resides there. Also, if the airway is blocked or trauma to the face makes it hard to perform rescue breathing then only compressions will be given. Either way oxygenated blood is being circulated to these vital organs without any delay. Chest compressions should be performed at a rate of 100 compression per minute. Said another way, if only giving chest compressions, push hard and push fast. In an adult the compression depth should be 2 inches. In fact, it is recommended that the lay rescuer should only perform compressions and forgo the breathing.

Airway: If a person’s airway is blocked by a foreign object it should be removed to allow air that will be delivered by your rescue breaths to enter the lungs. This is determined by tilting the victim’s head backwards, plugging their nose, and delivering the breaths mouth to mouth while fully making a seal around their mouth. If the breaths do not go in, there is an obstructed airway. You should immediately begin chest compressions as this will increase the pressure within the chest cavity and may be sufficient to force the object out, restoring a viable airway. Even if the airway is not cleared, the compressions will circulate the residual air in the lungs.

Breathing: If breaths are delivered, the ratio of chest compressions to breaths is 30:2. Each of the two breaths should be delivered for a second, watching to see the chest rise and fall between breaths.

Disclaimer: This discussion on the CAB’ of CPR is not intended to be a full explanation of how to perform CPR. Rather, it is to help the reader understand the major components that comprise CPR. If interested in learning CPR, please enroll to take a class and become proficient in this potentially life saving skill.

3- Know the Emergency Contact Info

Regardless of where you are in the United States, 911 is the number to call for emergencies. However, you may want to know some other emergency numbers such as the police, fire department, Hospital, and other family members phone numbers.

It would be wise to know or have a record of every members blood type and medical history to help first responders quickly access the situation and make an informed decision.

Where earthquakes happen

Earthquakes occur all over the world with 20,000 of them in the United States alone. Most of them occurring along the edge of oceanic and continental plates. When these plates bump into or slide past each other the result is an earthquake. Because plates move at a rate of 3mm a month (the same rate as your finger nail grows), most earthquakes are slight and undetectable without the use of a seismograph. However, some plates shift much more rapidly causing a larger earthquake that can be felt, and can cause damage to the landscape, homes and buildings.

The image on the right shows where each plate is located in the world:

How Are Earthquakes Measured?

Because earthquakes can be felt all over the world, scientists and government agencies have set up the Global Seismographic Network or GSN that records real time data from each earthquake around the world. Today, there are over 150 different stations distributed globally that all work together to gather data.

Each seismic station within the network measures the movement of ground or vibration at its specific location. That data is then compared with other stations around the world to locate the source of the earthquake and measure its strength.

While there are different methods to measure an earthquake, the Richter Scale and the Moment Magnitude Scale are the two methods primarily used.  The Richter Scale measures the largest “wiggle” on the recording graph but is considered out of date. The Moment Magnitude Scale is considered more accurate as it measures the size of the earthquake source regardless of what the shaking feels like or where you are located in the world. After the data from several GSN stations have been analyzed, the earthquake is then ranked on the Magnitude scale that ranges between 2-10.

The reason for starting the range at 2 is because anything less than 2-2.5 is usually not detectable without an seismograph reading. A moderate earthquake is a 5 and may cause some slight damage to your house.

Another form of measurement is the intensity of the earthquake. The Intensity is a measure of the shaking and damage that is caused by the earthquake. The further a structure is away from the epicenter of the quake, the less likely it is that structural damage will occur.

Checklist of Preparation Items

If you live in a high-risk earthquake area you should invest in some basic survival gear. Hopefully you never have to use it, but it should be available in case you do. Below are some items you should consider having in your home or car. I recommend having them in a grab and go backpack.

  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Backup power source
  • Matches
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Gloves
  • Water filter/water bottle
  • Medical Mask/ Gloves
  • Solar blanket
  • Duct tape
  • Glow Sticks

These are the basic items you should have. I have found that it is usually cheaper to buy an emergency backpack that already has everything in it rather than buying it separately. If you can afford it, I would strongly recommend investing in a prepacked emergency bag or backpack. Here are a few of the top items you should consider.

Premium Emergency Survival Bag/Kit – Be Equipped with 72 Hours of Disaster Preparedness Supplies for 2 People

The reason why I picked this item is because I feel that is has the best items in the backpack overall.

Here are some of the features:
– Made in USA
– Two Person, 72 Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit
– 12 Mountain House food servings
– 24 Packets of Datrex water
– 1 LED lantern
– 1 fully stocked First Aid Kit

And many other items are included in the backpack. I found this one on Amazon – you can check out the price HERE.

Mayday Earthquake Kit Deluxe Home Honey Bucket Survival Emergency

The Mayday Earthquake Kit is great for those who live in apartment buildings. It comes with everything you’ll need for a family of 4 during the first 72 hours post quake. Check out the Price on Amazon HERE.

Here are some of the features:
– Leather Gloves
– Imported
– Deluxe version of the kit
– This Honey Bucket Has Most Everything You Need For Survival For The First 72 hours.
– Great for travel
– Easy mobility
– Kit for 4 people

Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack

This Emergency kit is for two people on a budget and only includes the essentials. Below are some of the items that are in the backpack. You can check out the current price on amazon by clicking Here.

– Made in USA
– Sustains two people for three days
– Includes food, water, and emergency blankets
– One 33-piece first aid kit
– Two safety light sticks
– A backpack keeps supplies at the ready

Complete Earthquake Bag – Most Popular Emergency kit for Earthquakes, Hurricanes, floods + Other disasters

This Emergency kit is the most complete emergency bag that I was able to find. I would highly recommend it to anyone who lives in a High risk area for earthquakes.

Some Features to this kit are:
– 100% Satisfaction Guarantee – Built for 3 day period
– FOOD & WATER: 3600 Cal Food Bar (4), Water Pouch (48), Hydration Bag w/ Straw (4), Water Purification Tablet (40)
– FIRST AID & HYGIENE: 107 Piece Extended Life First Aid Kit, Hygiene Kits (4), Pocket Tissue Packs (4), Waste Bags (4)
– LIGHT, SHELTER & WARMTH: Hand Crank Flashlight / Radio / Phone Charger, Waterproof Matches, Emergency Poncho (4), Mylar Sleeping Bag (4), 2 Person Tube Tent (2), Hand/Body Warmer (4), 30+ hour Candle, 12 Hour Bright Stick
– TOOLS: Pencil, Note Pad, 5-in-1 Whistle, N95 Dust Mask (4), 50 ft. Nylon Rope, Safety Goggles, Sewing Kit, Leather Palm Gloves

Again, I found this item on Amazon. You can check out the price Here.

GetReadyNow 2+ Person Deluxe Car Emergency Kit | High-Quality Earthquake & Disaster Survival Supplies | Compact, Convenient Design

This is a great emergency kit I recommend to have in the trunk of your car. An earthquake can strike at any time, so be prepared at all times.

Some of the Key features about this kit are:
– BEST SUPPLIES FOR WORST-CASE SCENARIOS: High-quality kit includes critical gear often omitted in DIY kits including light, first aid, utility tools, warmth & cooling, sanitation, & food and water products
– READY, RESOURCEFUL, RESILIENT: Strategically packed essentials put you in charge of any situation, with items most likely to be used conveniently packed on top
– CLEAR, HEAVY DUTY DRYBAG: Protects emergency supplies from water damage and allows you to quickly & easily identify contents without having to open it
– COMPACT & CONVENIENT: Fits under the seat, in side door panels, or pockets behind seats
– 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEED: We are committed to your complete and total satisfaction with our products and service

You can find this emergency car kit on amazon by clicking Here.

Earthquakes are extremely dangerous and unpredictable as to when they will strike. Being prepared for the “Worst Case Scenario” is the best thing you can do! Remember, Have a plan, practice the plan, be prepared to help others if needed, and have the proper equipment with you to increase the chances of survival.