Disaster Preparedness: Earthquake Disaster Plan

Earthquake Disaster Planning

Master Disaster Checklist

If you want to keep your property, family, pets, and business safe during natural disasters, it’s important to be prepared. This master checklist gives you a good foundation for what to do, what to have, and what to plan for.

  • Secure Contact Information: Make sure you have a printed out copy as the power may be out and you might not have access to your computer or documents. Include names and telephone numbers, as well as out-of-town friends or family who might be able to help you. It’s important to have an out-of-town friend listed because your friends who live in your town might not be able to help you if a disaster affected them, too. Additionally, prearrange a nearby meet-up place after the emergency. It could be the local high school, a relative’s home, or a grocery store.
  • Have a Plan: Make sure that all of your family knows about your disaster plan (escape routes, where the emergency kit is stored, who to contact, and what to do in case of a natural disaster).
    • Identify a Safe Room: Point out which room is the safest room in your home. This should be an interior room without windows, if possible (maybe a closet or a bathroom). This is the place your family should seek shelter when storm warnings are issued.
  • Stay Informed: Make sure that you have a portable radio with fully charged batteries so that you can get the latest up-to-date information about the disaster. If you are in the path of the disaster, go to your pre-designated shelter area immediately.
  • Take Photos/Video of Your Property: If you have an inventory of your valuables and possessions you are likely to be able to claim up to 20% more insurance than if you don’t. Taking photos and videos with your cell phone is an easy way to document your items. Be sure to upload all the images to secure cloud backup and not just store on your property.
  • Charge Electronic Devices: During a disaster, you may lose power. Ensure your cell phone is fully charged, along with other electronic devices like tablets and laptop computers. Also, think about purchasing a solar-powered backup charging device.
  • Get Cash: When the power goes out, ATM machines won’t work. Get plenty of one dollar bills because not many people will have change for twenty and hundred dollar bills. Try to aim for ones, fives, and tens.
  • Fill Up on Gas: Fill your gas tank. When the power goes out, gas pumps won’t work.
  • Disaster Supplies Kit: A disaster supplies kit is essential to keeping you and your family safe. It should include non-perishable food, water, medical supplies, clothes, pet food and supplies, medications, batteries, flashlights, etc. Consider the following list: 
    • Flashlight
    • Batteries
    • First Aid Kits: For $20, you can have medical supply basics — all in one place — and ready to use. Minor as well as major injuries are possible during an earthquake and it’s possible that emergency services will be overwhelmed, so having a first aid kit is essential.
    • Solar Cell Phone Charger: Solar powered charges start in the mid-$20 range and go up from there. The best selling Amazon solar charger is $60 and is fast with “industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar panels sewn into a rugged polyester canvas offer weather-resistant outdoor durability.” If the power goes out, you might have no other way to charge your phone.
    • Crank-Powered Radio: You can pay upwards of $100 for a decent crank radio, but you don’t have to spend that much. The best-selling Amazon crank radio is only $20!
    • Emergency Water Filter: There’s no need for an expensive filtration system. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter has 5,000 reviews and is only $20! The LifeStraw “removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, and filters to 0.2 microns; surpasses EPA filter standards.”
    • Bottled Water (minimum of three gallons for each member of your family)
    • Battery-Powered Radio
    • Battery-Powered Lantern
    • Emergency Food Supply
    • Can Opener
    • Basic Tools (utility knife, pliers, wrench, tape, compass)
    • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, toilet paper)
    • Pencils and Paper
    • Pet Supplies (food, litter)
    • Rain Gear
    • Sleeping Bag
    • Change of Clothes
    • Plastic Garbage Bags
    • Face Masks
    • Gloves
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Cleaning Wipes
  • Have a “Go Bag”: Having an emergency bag packed with essentials (food, clothes, toiletries, cash, etc.) can save you time in a crisis. P.S. A little bit of toilet paper goes a long way…
  • Gather Your Important Papers: Keep all special papers and photographs in a watertight container or plastic bag. You know, all of those important things like bank account papers, birth certificates, property deeds, medical cards, social security cards, etc. as well as photos and important keepsakes which can never be replaced. During a disaster, they could all be ruined and washed away forever in one whoosh!
    • Identification (copy of driver’s license or passport)
    • Insurance Policies
    • Birth Certificates
    • Marriage Certificates
    • Proof of Residence (copy of lease, mortgage documents)
    • Deeds or Wills
    • Tax Returns
    • Social Security Cards
  • Plan for Your Pets: Many hotels and motels won’t accommodate your pets, so if your plan is to evacuate to a hotel, then you’ll need to find them a safe boarding kennels or cattery which is outside of the disaster’s impact zone. Be sure you have plenty of your pet’s preferred food and whatever medications they might need.
  • Refill Your Medications: Make sure that you have plenty of your prescription medicines on hand. If a disaster hits your area, the last thing you want to worry about is a medical emergency. 
  • Disaster Insurance: Check your insurance coverage as part of your disaster preparedness plan. Many home insurance policies do not cover hazards like flooding caused by hurricanes, for example. If you live in a disaster-prone area, consider getting insurance to cover damages.
  • Have a Plan for After the Disaster: After a disaster, get out of town until emergency services and law enforcement have gotten control of the situation. Unfortunately, like many other disaster situations, there are people who will try to take advantage of the chaos. It’s best to avoid being in the disaster zone until things are under control.

First Aid Kits



What is an Earthquake?

An earthquake (sometimes called an earth tremor) is caused when there is a slip along a fault line. The earth’s tectonic plates are constantly moving and shifting and sometimes the tension builds to a breaking point, causing slippage along the fault line and resulting in an earthquake.

Earthquakes are truly terrifying natural disasters. They can happen anywhere, anytime, and wreak havoc on people and property alike. You may not realize this but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says that an astonishing 39 states in the United States are vulnerable to earthquakes.

Since so many people in the US are at risk, it is imperative that you have a disaster plan in place in case an earthquake strikes.


Earthquake Kits

In order to be truly prepared for an earthquake, you should have an earthquake kit at the ready. Here is an example of an earthquake kit to help keep you and your family safe during the big one.


Disaster Preparedness: Earthquake Disaster Plan

In order for you and your family to be truly prepared, make sure you have an earthquake disaster plan (in addition to your earthquake kit) in place. Furthermore, ensure everyone in your family knows what to do and where the emergency supplies are located.

  1. Safe Areas: Make sure that you and each member of your family know the safe areas in your home. These tend to be interior corners which are well away from windows. Keep these areas free from potential hazards like bookshelves. You don’t want items falling on top of you during an earthquake.
  2. Emergency Contact List: Have a list of people to contact in case of an earthquake emergency which includes at least a couple of people who live out of state. Those who live in your city or state might also have been impacted by the earthquake and may not be able to assist you. Also, be sure to have a printed copy of your list as Internet and cellular service may be out.
  3. Light Sources: If the power goes out, you’re not going to be able to just flick a switch to get light anymore. Make sure that there are plenty of flashlights in your home with fully charged batteries. Candles and matches are also advisable. A battery-operated radio is also a great piece of kit to have in case of an earthquake disaster.
  4. Essential Supplies: Keep plenty of essential supplies in your home at all times. You’ll want about five days’ worth of non-perishable food and water as a safety precaution. (If you have pets, don’t forget to stock some of their food, too!) If you need medication, make sure you’ve got a good supply of it in stock to last you a few weeks or until the pharmacies can open again.
  5. Earthquake Drills: Practice earthquake drills with your family on a regular basis. That way, if the real thing does happen, there’s a much better chance of everyone remaining calm and, in turn, safe. To practice your earthquake drill, pretend their is an earthquake and then direct your family to the safe spots in your home. Ideally, you would have something over you like a strong desk, chair, or table to protect you from falling debris. Duck down with your arms over your head and stay there for around a minute before making your way to the closest exit.


ShakeAlert® Earthquake Early Warning System

ShakeAlert® is an earthquake early warning (EEW) system that detects significant earthquakes so quickly that alerts can reach many people before shaking arrives. ShakeAlert is not earthquake prediction, rather a ShakeAlert Message indicates that an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent.

Here is a video on how ShakeAlert® works:


You can follow ShakeAlert® on Twitter here: @USGS_ShakeAlert