A few years ago, my friend Zach and I decided to (finally) get our families prepared for the next major earthquake. Living on the west coast means that earthquake prep is a must-do. When we got down to it, we were amazed by how many people haven’t truly prepared their families, and we were inspired to make it simple and easy. We started an emergency preparedness company, and we’ve helped more than 20,000 people with earthquake preparedness over the past 3 years.
The last couple years gave us too many reasons to think about preparedness. Disasters caused over $400 billion in damages. There was a 1000% increase in applicants for FEMA aid. Fires up and down the west coast left families scrambling to evacuate with no time to spare, hurricanes pummeled the Gulf Coast in historic proportions, and people everywhere were dealing with new disasters.
It’s never fun to think about your family in a disaster situation, but a few simple steps can make your family safer and better prepared in the days after a major emergency.
Have a few minutes right now? Here are 5 things you can quickly do today that will absolutely keep your family safer in the next major earthquake.
1. Put Shoes Under Your Bed
An earthquake shakes literally everything around, causing furniture, shelves and everything unsecured to fall and break. It covers your floors with broken glass, smashed pottery, wine bottle shards, and anything else you can imagine. There is a 33% chance the next major earthquake happens while you are asleep. Imagine... it’s dark, the power is out, you are in bare feet and you have to evacuate!
If you have to leave, you'll be walking the streets barefoot, and could be on the move for hours or days after the event. A pair of shoes can be a game changer in a dangerous situation.
Have 15 seconds? Put a pair of old shoes under your bed right now.
Pro Tip - secure your shoes! Throw them in a bag and tie the straps to a leg of the bed so you can actually find them!
2. Add a Flashlight to Your Nightstand
Expect the power to be out after an earthquake. That fun flashlight function on your phone? It’s not going to last long without power to plug it in. Plus, your phone is a key source of communication and information. By relying on a flashlight for emergency events, you can see what's going on around you and preserve your phone's power.
Pro Tip - secure your flashlight! Just like your shoes (and everything else) your flashlight is no good if you can't find it after it's been tossed by an earthquake. Throw it in your nightstand drawer, or between your mattress and boxspring.
Bonus tip: remember to test the batteries in your flashlight and smoke alarms when you change the clocks during daylight savings time twice a year.
3) Move Your Earthquake Bag
Your earthquake bag should be easy to grab - check out our blog HERE about where to store it. You don't know where you will be when an earthquake strikes, and may be in a panic trying to keep yourself and your family safe. Your bag should be near the main exit of your home, so you can get it quickly. Consider putting it under a sturdy piece of furniture (mudroom bench)... somewhere it won't get covered or lost.
Unfortunately you won't have time to collect valuables during the event, but your family’s safety is most important. If you need to evacuate, you'll head straight to the front door or your primary exit, so make sure your supplies are ready and waiting.
Pro Tip - if you don't have a great place to stash it by the exit, consider storing your earthquake bag in the trunk of your car. Odds are you'll be wherever your car is when the next major earthquake strikes.
Still don’t have an earthquake kit for your family? We get it - that’s why we exist! We’ve built the smartest, most efficient earthquake bags you can make or buy, built for people like you. Find your custom Earthquake Bag in under 5 minutes HERE!
4) Give Everyone Emergency Information
f you're like most of us, you probably have an emergency contacts list attached to your fridge or on your home office bulletin board. Put a copy in your child's backpack, the glove box of your car, your wallet or purse, and in your earthquake bag. This way you'll always have the information handy even if you have to leave in a rush. If your little ones are separated from you, it helps if their rescuers know who they are, who they belong to, and how to get you back together.
Include an out-of-town emergency contacts. Let them know your status as soon as possible. Local phone lines may be jammed after an earthquake so it will be easier to reach someone outside of the disaster area.
Pro Tip - have 2 out-of-town contacts, just in case one isn't reachable. Communication is key!
5) Choose an Emergency Meeting Place
If an earthquake strikes during the day, you’ll likely be separated from your loved ones. You may be at work while children are at school. Discuss with your family where you plan to reunite in the event of a disaster. Your cell phones might not work during a disaster, so it's important to have a plan beforehand.
You may not want to think about an earthquake, but that doesn’t make the probability any different. We know that another major earthquake will strike here, so let’s be grown ups and take a few simple precautions for our families. It doesn’t have to take long, and it can make a huge difference in protecting you from injury and keeping you in contact with loved ones.
You’ll feel better knowing that you’ve done what you can to make your family safer.
Want to get an expert's take on earthquake prep? Check out our interview HERE.