Staying Safe in an Earthquake – How to Be Prepared

Nobody wants to confront a major natural disaster. Yet some disasters – hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes, to name a few – come with warning signs, allowing for minor preparation and escape.

Earthquakes, on the other hand, happen immediately and with no warning. They are so all-consuming and widespread that you cannot jump in the car and escape them.

If you are in the impact zone, you will be affected. But the degree to which you are affected can be minimized. It all depends on how prepared you are for the quake. Preparation does take some time, but you will reap the benefits many times over in the event of a major earthquake.

What Is a Quake Like?

Ordinary life immediately precedes an earthquake. You are washing the dishes, watching TV, doing homework, or putting on a helmet for a bike ride. Then you feel that initial jolt.

You may not realize it at first, thinking that it is something else – that someone dropped something heavy. Then you become aware of the noises, of chandeliers rattling, the house frame squeaking, glasses dropping and breaking, car alarms going off.

If you are indoors, items that are not secured – books, TVs, glassware, and lamps – will topple and fall. Hanging items will begin to swing. As these things are falling, you become aware that you might just become the victim of one of these falling things.

If you are outdoors, trees sway and water sloshes out of swimming pools.

The first jerk is followed by several more back-and-forth jerks. You may find it hard to stand.

Even though most earthquakes last only seconds – rarely more than thirty seconds – it will feel like forever.

Right after the shaking stops, the noise continues: dogs barking, people shouting, alarms ringing. Milder aftershocks continue for minutes or hours. Your electricity has probably gone out. Water may not be safe to drink, or water mains may be broken. Gas lines may erupt.

You have just experienced an earthquake measuring 7.0 or greater on the Richter scale.1

Predicting Quakes

Unfortunately, no one can predict earthquakes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), no scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake, nor are any scientists expected to be able to do so in the foreseeable future.

The best that scientists can do is produce tables that calculate the probability that an earthquake may occur. The milder the earthquake, the greater the probability that it will occur within the next 30 years. More severe quakes measuring 7.0 or higher on the Richter scale – those truly life-altering, disastrous quakes – are less probable to happen.

For example, because Southern California already experiences quakes between 5 and 6 on the Richter scale about four times per year, there is a 100 percent chance of another quake of similar strength happening within the next 30 years. However, because major magnitude-7.5 quakes have happened about once every 87 years, Southern California has only a 36 percent chance of another one happening in the next 30 years.2

Be Ready: Making an Earthquake Preparedness Kit

To help make your recovery from an earthquake safer and more comfortable, you should stock up your home with a set of essential preparedness items. Keep these items stored in a clean, dry place.3

Essential Items

  • Water: One gallon per person for every day. Provide for a two-week supply of water.
  • Food: Non-perishable items such as canned food or dry camping food that can be reconstituted with water. Be sure to have a can opener as well.
  • Gas/Water Shutoff Tool: This specialized wrench fits gas and water shutoff valves and can be purchased at your local home improvement or hardware store.
  • Flashlight: Have both battery-powered and crank flashlights. Keep a full set of fresh batteries on hand, too.
  • Radio: Purchase a hand-crank radio.
  • Medications: These are essential daily prescription items that are needed to maintain regular health.
  • First-Aid Kit: Basic kit that has gauze, adhesive bandages, antiseptic, aspirin or ibuprofen, and heat packs.
  • Tool Kit: Small tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, and a hammer. If you wish, you may substitute a multipurpose tool.
  • Eyewear: Extra glasses, contact lenses, and solution.
  • Personal Documents: Assemble a fireproof lockbox with prescription slips, home and car titles, birth certificates, passports, and all insurance policies, including homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Contact List: Written spreadsheet or other type of list of phone numbers and addresses of relatives, close associates, local hospitals, and police and fire stations.
  • Cash: Several hundred dollars in small bills.
  • Thick Blankets
  • Paper Maps: Detailed maps of your local area.

Extra or Optional Items

  • Baby Supplies: Bottles, formula, diapers, food.
  • Pet Supplies: Food, ID, collar, carrier.
  • Entertainment: Books, cards, board games.
  • Signal Devices: Whistle, air horn, flares.
  • Feminine Sanitary Items
  • Rain Gear
  • Camping Stove: Stove with extra propane canisters and waterproof matches.
  • Plastic Sheeting
  • Duct Tape
  • Gloves
  • Towels
  • Knife and Scissors
  • Water Purification: Tablets or bleach.
  • Sleeping Bags

How to Make Your Home Safer in Case the Big One Strikes

Chances are good that your home is not prepared for an earthquake. While your house may seem solid and safe, it is likely not ready for the rigors of a magnitude-7.0 earthquake. Undertake these projects now for a safer home:4

Secure Water Heaters

Secure heaters to walls with metal straps. These bands can be purchased as part of a kit, available at home improvement stores.

Attach Bookcases, Filing Cabinets, and Tall Cabinets to Wall

Affix any kind of furniture that can tip over to a wall stud, using a metal L-brace or a nylon strap.

Create Barriers on Shelves

Attach ledge barriers along the edges of shelves to prevent items from sliding off and falling.

Secure Gas Appliances

Attach flexible connections to allow appliances to shift without breaking their lines. As with the water heater, attach large gas appliances to the nearest wall.

Minimize Shattered Glass on Windows

Install clear or shaded safety film on windows. This will prevent glass from scattering across the floor.

Secure House to Foundation

Consult a contractor to install anchor bolts between the house framing and the foundation.

Strap Down Chimney

Attach reinforcing bars or metal straps to the chimney to prevent it from snapping and breaking off in the event of an earthquake.

During and After an Earthquake: Keeping Yourself and Your Family Safe

During The Quake5


  • Drop to the ground and take cover under the nearest strong piece of furniture, like a table or desk.
  • Stay indoors. Even though open outdoor spaces are safer than being indoors, falling objects can injure you as you try to move outside.
  • If you are driving, stop at the nearest clear, open area, away from buildings. Remain in the car.


  • Stand under a door frame. Once standard advice, this is now outdated, as modern door frames are rarely stronger than other parts of the house.
  • Stand next to buildings, trees, or power lines, which could collapse and injure you.
  • Go to a window, as glass may break and hurt you.
  • Stand next to book cases, high pantry cabinets, refrigerators, or other top-heavy items that may fall.

After The Quake

Even though the earthquake may last only seconds, the aftermath may go on for days or weeks to come. Follow these fifteen steps, in this order:

  1. Wait for the aftershocks to end.
  2. Check yourself for injuries first before assisting others.
  3. Put on shoes to protect yourself against broken glass.
  4. Check for fires and extinguish them immediately.
  5. Shut off natural gas and water lines.
  6. Move yourself and your family to the nearest open area.
  7. Open windows to ventilate your home.
  8. Check your house for structural damage.
  9. Begin gathering water from the water heater release valve, ice cube trays, and toilet tanks.
  10. Check sewer lines for damage before flushing the toilet.
  11. Inspect the chimney for cracks that may indicate potential collapse.
  12. Keep the freezer closed for as long as possible to retain the cold.
  13. Set up charcoal grill outside for cooking.
  14. Stay at home if at all possible. Roads will be impassable.
  15. Check your emergency radio for information.

Earthquakes are devastating events. Fortunately, you and your family can remain safe by following basic safety plans.

Source: Blog


  1. How Long Earthquakes Last –
  2. Earthquake Probability –
  3. Red Cross Earthquake Preparedness Kit –
  4. 6. Prepare House for Earthquake –
  5. Quake: Do This / Do Not Do This –

By Land or By Water, To Survive You Must Have Alternatives

To survive, you need to have alternative options. Don’t forget about using your local water-ways as a route to take in the event of an emergency. Many times the roads might be blocked. You can travel for miles on creeks and rivers using nothing more than a canoe, kayak, or inflatable raft. They can be very valuable in getting from one place to another when the SHTF.

Here are a few top picks from our Year Zero Survival staff:

Travel Kayak Deluxe 12′ 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

Travel Kayak Deluxe 12′ 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable kayaks are perfect for bugging out, camping, vacationing, exploring remote areas, and cruising yachts. They’re also great for paddling enthusiasts that don’t want to drive around with a kayak on their rooftop! AIRHEAD Travel Kayaks fit easily into the trunk of your car, duffel bag or suitcase. When you feel the itch to paddle, your boat is with you!


Rave Sea Rebel™ Inflatable Kayak

Rave Sea Rebel™ Inflatable Kayak

This one-person kayak inflates in minutes and features a water resistant dry bag and water bottle holder, with adjustable backrest. Includes a paddle, hand pump, carrying bag.


QuikPak K3 Covered Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak

QuikPak K3 Covered Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayak

One person inflatable sit-on-top kayak. The grab and go kayak! Five minute setup, from backpack to kayak. Perfect for an emergency set up.


4 Person Inflatable Boat

4 Person Inflatable Boat

Gear bag, grab line, Four person inflatable boat.


Zodiac Zoom 230 Roll Up

Zodiac Zoom 230 Roll Up

It has an impressive load capacity so you can carry more supplies. The truncated cone tube ends provide great buoyancy.


Zodiac Wave 11′ Boat w/Marine Plywood Floor & Inflatable Keel – 5 Passenger

Zodiac Wave 11′ Boat w/Marine Plywood Floor & Inflatable Keel – 5 Passenger


The big daddy of them all, The `Wave by Zodiac’ is an easy-to-use inflatable designed for a quick set-up and easy storage. The lightweight, durable design allows for rugged use in extreme conditions. Key benefits that set these boats apart from conventional boats include:

Exceptional Load
There is enough room in the boat to comfortably fit the whole family, and remarkable buoyancy that conventional boats just can’t match.

Reassuring Stability
Provides safe loading and unloading as well as a safe and reassuring platform for fishing, daily cruising and ship to shore tendering.

‘Wave by Zodiac’ packs up to fit into your trunk, ensuring your ability to get to all those secret fishing and great boating spots.

At just 98 lbs. this lightweight boat can be launched from any type of waterfront with ease – much less work than launching an aluminum or fiberglass boat.

Economical Operation
The `Wave by Zodiac’ requires only a small outboard engine (maximum 15hp) for excellent boating performance, which saves on fuel and reduces weight adding to these boats excellent portability characteristics.

Unique Floor Systems
The ‘Wave by Zodiac’ comes equipped with a 5-piece wooden floorboard system with aluminum stringers to keep the floor system locked flat and stable.


All of these are simple to inflate and deflate, without the storage and care concerns of other rigid boats or canoes. Something to consider as part of your survival and prepper planning.

See all of the Bugout Boats available HERE


Be prepared for disaster by heeding official warningsThere are actions that should be taken before, during and after an event that are unique to each hazard. Identify the hazards that have happened or could happen in your area and plan for the unique actions for each.  Local Emergency management offices can help identify the hazards in your area and outline the local plans and recommendations for each. Share the hazard-specific information with family members and include pertinent materials in your family disaster plan.

Find out from local government emergency management how you will be notified for each kind of disasters, both natural and man-made. You should also inquire about alert and warning systems for workplace, schools and other locations. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community. One common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. You might hear a special siren, or get a telephone call, or in rare circumstances, volunteers and emergency workers may go door-to-door.

Get more information about Warning Systems & Signals.

Depending upon the nature of the emergency and your circumstances, one of the first important decisions is whether to stay where you are or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Learn more about Evacuation & Sheltering In Place.

Learn more about specific hazard types, including natural disasters, technological and accidental hazards, and terrorist hazards.

Have You Ever Wondered How You’re Going To Store Food When The Grid Fails During The Apocalypse?

But even more pressingly, do you know how to eat well during the inevitable post-storm power outages in your neighborhood?

In my experience, while the power company spends its energies hooking up more important buildings like schools and hospitals, I spend at least the first day in the dark.  That means encouraging my family to eat ice cream before it melts and cooking hot dogs over a fire. The fridge’s cold air is fading fast and it can only be opened on a strict schedule: whenever every member of the family is simultaneously dying of hunger. By the second day, the refrigerator’s cooling powers have failed entirely. The now useless box begins to stink of rot and breakfast is served at the doughnut store. In fact, every meal is either pizza or donuts until the electric company decides to grace my street with their omnipotent presence. Although a power outage is a kid’s culinary dream, it can be an adult’s nightmare.

What to buy at your grocery store to prep for when you need doomsday survival.

Yet, with a little knowledge and planning, you can actually cook delicious meals without a refrigerator. After living on boats for almost four years with no or limited electricity, I have learned it is possible to eat like a gourmet without ice.

  1. Get a gas stove: With a gas-powered stove, you can heat basics like hot water even when there’s no electricity. Boiled water will be vital after the apocalypse when there is no clean, running water.  Just kidding.. sort of.  If your main stove is electric, a small camp stove with a propane tank will suffice for roughing it during a power outage.
  2. Eggs Eggs Eggs!!! Eggs don’t need to be refrigerated! Eggs can last up to a month at room temperature. You do need to turn them over every day to coat the insides of the shell with yolk. Otherwise, the shells will become brittle and crack more easily. If they smell bad, or are cracked toss them.
  3. Canned Food: Canned beans and veggies are a great way to store food. These can go great in soups, chilies, and stews, or make a nice addition to salad. Be sure to have a non-electric can opener.
  4. Fresh Vegetables: Many vegetables do not need refrigeration. Root vegetables such as onions, carrots, and potatoes can last for weeks in a cool, dark area. More perishable vegetables, like tomatoes and zucchini, can last a week in room temperature conditions.  Tomatoes even taste better when they’re not refrigerated. Use your judgement when storing food. Of course, vegetables will last longer in cool, dark places. If you live in Alaska, your food will last longer than in Jamaica. I would recommend going vegetable shopping twice a week to keep up a rotation of your stores.  Now you can make onion, garlic, and tomato egg omelets!
  5. Fresh Fruit: Most fruits do not need refrigeration. Apples, bananas, and oranges will all do fine for weeks without refrigeration. Store apples away from other fruits, however, because they have a tendency to cause other produce to decay more rapidly. Berries and peaches will last a few days without refrigeration. Don’t eat if they are moldy! Again, shop for these more perishable fruits a few times a week.
  6. Dairy Products: Butter can last weeks without refrigeration. Monitor the butter for spoil. To encourage your cheese to last indefinitely out of the fridge, wrap hard cheeses in vinegar and cheese cloths. This may prolong the life of your cheese.
  7. Rice: and other grains are perfect when you have limited power. If you have your gas stove, you can cook up a pot of rice, and add some of your fresh veggies for a great dinner.
  8. Become a Vegetarian: I would not advise storing meat when you do not have refrigeration or an ice box. If you must have meat, cured sausages such as charcuterie will keep without refrigeration. Canned fish is a great way to add protein. If you really enjoy the 19th century lifestyle, salted cod will also keep. Soak the dried, salted fillet in water for a day, and you will have fresh, desalted, re-hydrated fish.
  9. Beverages: Wine and beer store nicely and will go well with your preserved cheese! Enjoy your next power outage in French style!

Please use your own judgement when consuming any food. These are techniques the author has found useful. The author is not liable for any illnesses you may experience due to eating non refrigerated food.

Source: Off The Blueprint

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