What to do Before, During, and After an Earthquake


Before the Quake

Develop a family earthquake plan. Prepare yourself, your family and your home by completing the activities on this checklist. Decide how and where your family will reunite if separate. Choose an out-of-state friend or relative that separated family members can call after the quake to report their whereabouts and condition. Conduct practice drills. Physically place yourself in safe locations. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers

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Emergency Food Supplies


As part if your preparations for an earthquake you should prepare an emergency food supply that will last each individual several days or as much as a week. Use foods that your family likes. Canned foods, dry mixes, dehydrated fruit, etc. that are normally used will do just fine. Try for a balance meal approach. Don’t forget a manual can opener in the event of a power outage. Foods stored in dark, cool areas lasts longer. Rotate food items from storage at least once or twice a year to avoid spoilage and keep freshness. It may be helpful to write the date on the items the day they were stored.


Packing food for Burning ManPerishable foods such as milk, meats, etc. that are normally stored under refrigeration will spoil quickly without it. If still cold, these foods should be used first. Foods in freezers can last several days without power if the door is not opened frequently.


If perishable foods lose refrigeration and become warm, DO NOT USE. Bacteria grows rapidly without refrigeration, and may cause food poisoning.

If canned foods have been damaged and are bulging or leaking, DO NOT USE.

DO NOT USE food from open containers where broken glass is present, have or where household chemicals have spilled.

Unsealed containers and those that have been punctured by rodents or have rodent droppings should NOT be used.

There are several reputable suppliers of prepared emergency food supplies for individuals, families and business. Check your Yellow Pages for a distributor nearest you.


Modified from: San Mateo County Department of Health Services

photo by: DoNotLick

How To Make a Family Earthquake Plan

Family Earthquake Plan

Plan Responsibilities

There will be many things to take care of after a severe earthquake. Make plans with family, friends, and neighbors, assigning specific responsibilities to each person. Talk about the possibilities that may occur and develop plans for assisting those in greater need. Remember that it may be difficult to get around after an earthquake, so each person’s task needs to be related to where he or she may be and what they are capable of doing. It is also very important to do earthquake drills regularly.

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The Earthquake in Haiti in 2010

The Earthquake in Haiti in 2010

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti with catastrophic consequences. The epicenter of the earthquake hit near the town of Léogâne, roughly 16 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake hit at approximately 4:55pm local time and affected major cities surrounding the region.

Aftershocks and Damagehaiti earthquake 2010

By the time the sun rose on January 24th, there had been at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or higher on the Richter Scale. The earthquake and resulting aftershocks affected approximately 3 million people, with the death toll estimated at anywhere from 100,000 to 159,000 people. The Haitian government estimated there were 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings and businesses that had collapsed or had been extremely damaged.

Port-au-Prince suffered extensive damage, as well as Jacmel and other cities in the region. Several landmarks such as the Presidential Palace, Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the National Assembly were heavily damaged or destroyed, among others.

What Caused the Earthquake?

Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake occurred inland on the blind thrust faults that are associated with the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault system. It is believed that the earthquake had nothing to do with any significant movement or lateral slip of the Enquillo fault; they found no evidence of a surface rupture. The resulting earthquake was felt in several surrounding countries including Cuba, Venezuela, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The damage was more destructive than other earthquakes of similar strength due to the shallow depth of the quake itself.

The earthquake happened due to pressure or stress build up along the plates that converge over Haiti; the Caribbean tectonic plate and the North American Plate – which shifts approximately 20mm or 0.79 inches per year. The region has two strike slip fault areas in Haiti, the Septemtrional-Oriente fault and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault, which had not seen much movement in 250 years. The earthquake is believed to have only slightly relieved some of the built up stress from the constant movements of the plates.


Unlike the earthquake in the Indian Ocean which resulted in a massive tsunami that swept across the ocean, the Haiti earthquake resulted in a smaller wave. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did issue a warning shortly after the earthquake, but cancelled it soon after. It took two weeks after the earthquake to discover that a localized wave did in fact hit a small beach fishing town of Petit Paradis in which three people were swept out to sea. It is believed that this wave was caused by an underwater slide.                      

photo by: treesftf

Look Duck Cover Hold

Look Duck Cover Hold

When you feel an earthquake, the first thing to do is LOOK. Look around! Look above! See what could hurt you, what could save you from injury. Get your bearings on your next move. Find cover and DUCK under a desk or sturdy table. Stay away from windows, bookcases, file cabinets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants, and other heavy objects that could fall. Watch out for falling plaster or ceiling tiles. Stay underCOVER until the shaking stops. HOLD onto the desk or table. If it moves, move with it.

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photo by: Benjamin Chun

Earthquake Survival Kit in a Can

Survival in a Can

Here is a simple way to begin your home preparedness plan.
Fill a plastic container with enough supplies to last you or your family for 72 hours.

Supplies for your grab-and-go bag

Choose a Container

Plastic containers come in all shapes and sizes, they’re water and rodent proof, and are fairly durable. Choose the size that suits you needs. Be sure container comes with a securing lid.

Top of Container:

2 quarts of water per person per day in durable containers, flashlight, portable
radio, first aid kit, first aid book, blankets or sleeping bags for each person, work gloves, dry chemical fire extinguisher, clock or watch, and a crescent wrench for turning off the gas main.

Middle of Container:

Include food items like: juices, peanut butter, crackers, nuts, dried fruit or raisins, a change of clothing (one per person) including foul weather gear. For sanitary supplies, include diapers, bleach, paper towels, and toilet paper. Store miscellaneous supplies such as candles, matches or lighter, hand operated can opener, batteries (wrap- ped in plastic), pencils, marking pens, paper for leaving notes. You may also want to include a good book, a couple of magazines, newspaper, crossword puzzles, and some simple toys.

Bottom of Container:

Canned foods that are eatable warm or cold, and pet food; cooking utensils, including Sterno, stove, fuel, cooking pot, paper plates, aluminum foil and garbage bags; tools such as screw- drivers, pliers, hammer, rope, wire, duct tape etc.

Label the container EMERGENCY SUPPLIES, and place the it in a safe and easily accessible place.

Modified from: The American Red Cross

Strap the Water Heater

Strap the Water Heater

Strapping your water heater and making sure it is fitted with flexible gas supply line will greatly reduce the danger of fire or explosion from a gas leak after an earthquake. If your water heater does not have a flexible gas supply line, contact a licensed plumber to install one. Your water heater is also a source of fresh water in case your outside water is disrupted. In California, strapping the water heater is the law.

These instructions are intended to act as a guild in strapping a 30-40 gallon water heater within 12″ of a wall stud:

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