Personal Preparedness Guide

Escape Routes

Have at least two different escape routes planned for each part of your home or workplace. It is important that you know the quickest AND safest escape route from each room or building as well as all the foreseeable hazards that could be in your path.

Keep a flashlight in your office and by your bedside. Keep a pair of shoes under your bed. Major earthquakes will probably disrupt power, if this happens at night or inside a building with limited windows you will need the flashlight to make your way out. Shoes will provide protection from broken glass or fallen objects.

Shutoff Valves

Locate your gas, electric, and water shutoff valves AND know how to shut them off. It is recommended you paint the shutoff valves white or with reflective paint so they are visible in dark or smoky conditions.

Reunification Plan

Decide on a location you will meet if a major disaster hits when your family is separated. Have plans for each member of the family to reach a safe refuge. Make sure you have adequate emergency supplies in your car to sustain you while getting to your refuge.

The reunification plan should consider many possibilities. Will family members at work go home, or will you meet somewhere else? Who will pick up children from school? What if a family member is out of the area? What if your home is damaged and uninhabitable?

There may be no means of transportation available except by foot immediately following a major earthquake. It may take days for family members to reunite. Having a plan in place before the disaster eases the stress of this separation.

Select a place to use as an evacuation site where the family can reunite if your home is uninhabitable. The site should be near your home, in the open, away from hazards, and safe from injury due to aftershocks. Parks, yards, and parking lots are good areas to consider.

Telephone Contact

It is extremely important that you do not use your telephone indiscriminately after a major disaster. Reserve the telephone for emergencies only.

In all likelihood phone lines into and out of a disaster area will be down. Cellular phones will also likely NOT work immediately following a disaster as the repeater towers may be damaged or overloaded due to calls.

Normally long distance phone lines out of the disaster area are some of the first phone services to be restored. You should identify a telephone contact that lives out of the area, preferably in another state, as a telephone contact. Separated family members can use this contact to find out information, pass along messages, set up alternative meeting places. Family members not living in the area may also contact this person to find out about family members in the disaster area.

Volunteer to act as a telephone contact for your contact. There is no place in the United States that does not have the potential of suffering a major disaster!

Preparing Your Home

Single family wood frame buildings can be the most earthquake resistant type of construction. These buildings typically move with the earthquake. The key to riding out an earthquake is to make sure your home behaves as one continuous unit. The following should help protect your home from earthquake damage:

  1. Check your homes foundation to ensure it is in good condition, particularly in older homes.
  2. Your home should be bolted to the foundation. Houses built since 1940 are required to have sill bolting, but some may have been built without them. If you do not have sill bolts you should have 5/8" x 8 1/2" standard sill bolts installed every 4 feet.
  3. If your house has a crawl space between the ground and first floor, check to see if you have cripple walls. Cripple walls are plywood sheeting the covers the entire wall area and stiffens the structure.
  4. If your home was built prior to 1960 and has a chimney you will likely need to have it reinforced and tied to the building.

Safety Survey of Your Home or Office

Look at each room in your home or office with "Earthquake Eyes." Take some time in each room and think "if a major earthquake hit right now, what here could hurt me." After you decide what can hurt you take steps to reduce that chance of it happening.

  1. Avoid placing beds or desks directly under windows that may shatter
  2. Avoid hanging pictures or placing heavy objects over bed and desks
  3. Place heavy objects on the floor or lower shelves
  4. Remove or lock any wheels under furniture, appliances, or heavy objects
  5. Attach wall hangings, pictures, etc to wall studs
  6. Attach tall furniture to wall studs to prevent it from tipping over.
  7. All gas appliances should be installed with flexible gas line
  8. Segregate chemicals according to manufactures suggestions. Storing at floor level in a secure cabinet
  9. Attach "child-proof" latches on cabinets to prevent opening during quake.
  10. Water heaters should be double strapped to the studs in the wall behind it.
  11. Contact your local trash authority for locations to dispose of excess chemicals and hazardous waste. If you don't need it, don't store it.
  12. Keep emergency supplies for you and your family in a safe location OUTSIDE your home and garage.