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:

Always make it a habit to drive with at least a half full tank of gas. When the power is off after an earthquake and often during howling winter rain / windstorms, gas stations can’t pump gas.

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

Shoes right next to 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.

Take a photo of you and your pets on your cell phone. (A current picture of you and your pet together can help prove ownership.)

Take photos of family members together on your cell phone.


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 (see link at the end of this page).

Start video taping and photographing the house and valuables.

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 polypropylene longjohns and fire extinguisher(s).

Choosing and Using Fire Extinguishers

Make up the list of important phone numbers for next to the home and work landline 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 specifically trained to aid a person with a disability might be allowed). Get written proof of current vaccinations from your vet (maybe at least rabies, distemper, parvo, and bordetella, ask the vet). 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.

Start locating and copying important documents.

Stock up on food, especially easy to eat, high quality snacks. Make having extras of things you can’t do without 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 containers of water (only add one a day so you won’t melt the existing food).

(“Frozen Food and Power Outages: When to Save It and When to Throw It Out. A full freezer will hold a safe temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed). Food may be safely refrozen if . . . “)

Find out where the nearest pay phones are.

Learn how to use the manual release lever on the electric garage door opener that won’t work when the power is out.

Find the battery operated radio and get more batteries for it, or (maybe) 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

myths about earthquakes

The author of this webpage, (written as a homework reading assignment for my students), does not give any warranty, expressed or implied, nor assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product, or process included in this website or at websites linked to or from it. Users of information from this website assume all liability arising from such use.