fastest, easiest, cheapest earthquake preparedness projects

You’ve got a lot to do to get completely ready for the next big quake,
so you need to meet with your family or roommates and prioritize.

Here are some of the fastest, easiest, cheapest (but still important) things to do.

Consider doing these today:

Buy flashlights (electric torch), spare batteries and bulbs. Put a flashlight by each person’s bed, and in each
glove compartment.

Shoes by each person’s bed as broken glass will be everywhere after the quake.

Evacuation plan, and find a place in each room to take cover, two exits from each room.

Move the bed away from the window; take down pictures, mirrors over the head of the bed,

Move delicate objects to lower shelves. Move pet cages as necessary.

Do these in the next few days:

Tour the house, including the crawl space, looking for problems and write a list of
plans/priorities for the next month.

Start video taping and photographing the house and

Designate an out-of-state disaster contact.

Make an appointment to get your vaccinations (especially tetanus), and pet vaccinations up to

At work: flashlight (electric torch), walking shoes, work gloves, snacks, manual can opener, etc.

Register for a first aid and/or CPR class.

Locate that crescent wrench.

Start storing water as appropriate containers become empty.

Buy a water-purifying pump (iodine tablets are not effective against Cryptosporidium and some people are allergic to iodine)

Buy polypropylene longjohns and fire extinguisher(s).

ABCs of Fire Extinguishers

Make up the list of important phone numbers for next to the home and work phones, and list of
emergency #s for the cell phone.

Pets may not be allowed at emergency shelters due to health regulations, etc. (Service animals
might be allowed). Have proof of current vaccinations. Keep a list of pet-friendly hotels outside your immediate area in case you have to relocate. If there are none, contact other hotels and ask if they would waive their no pet policies after a disaster, or contact friends and relatives in advance.

Get current photos of your pets in case they get lost, even if just on your phone. (A current picture of you and your pet together can help prove ownership.)

Start locating and copying important documents.

Stock up on food, especially easy to eat, high quality snacks. Make having extras a habit
(diapers, etc.).

Mark a calendar to practice evacuations plans, check smoke alarms, etc. every six months.

Fill empty space in the freezer with bottles of water (only one a day so you won’t melt the
existing food).

Find out where the nearest pay phones are.

Learn how to use the manual release lever on the electric garage door opener.

Find the battery operated radio and get more batteries for it, or get a solar/handcrank radio.


It can be worthwhile to use preparing for an earthquake as an excuse to get to know
neighbors better or to get to know neighbors you may not have met yet.

Do neighbors have skills such as medical, technical, carpentry? Do they have special ‘tools’, such as chain saws or a T.V in a motorhome to watch footage of the quake on, or a ham radio? Consider how you would help those with special needs, such as elderly or disabled. Can you volunteer to help take care of kids who may be on their own if parents can’t get home?


A family (and babysitters, caregivers, overnight guests) disaster plan, including details about much of the above, is at:

Disaster planning


As a part of preparing for the next earthquake, do a what if? survey of your home, crawl space, attic (again, including details about much of the above),

earthquake home hazards survey


You can find detailed maps (with zoom in capability) of potential road closures, risk of liqufaction and flooding, such as this map of potential Bay Area road closures after a San Andreas fault 7.2 quake,

road closures san andreas fault 7.2 quake: map showing potential road closures in Santa Clara county after a san andreas fault 7.2 quake

at the ABAG link at: Earthquake information sources

Earthquake and pets advice

Helping Children Cope With Disaster

Disaster Supplies

Store water for after an earthquake

Babysitter Consent and Contact Form

hazardous household chemical mixtures

Home Fire Safety Checklist

Find myths about earthquakes (including the misguided “triangle of life”, animals predicting quakes, position of the moon and planets) at