According to the American Red Cross, 45 states are at moderate to very high risk of earthquakes, and they can strike at any time, without warning. The unpredictable nature of earthquakes makes it difficult for local governments to prepare ahead of time, unlike with hurricanes or floods, when there is advanced notice of impending weather conditions.
Even with the best earthquake response from first responders and authorities, it may take days for help to be available. This is why it is crucial for individuals and families to have their own earthquake preparedness plan in place.
An earthquake may cause:
An earthquake (or other disaster) preparedness plan should include awareness of all these challenges, and plan for them ahead of time. Emergency power may not be available, and advance preparation is your best option.
How to prepare for an earthquake or natural disaster
Before an earthquake strikes
It is best to prepare for an earthquake, disaster, or power grid fails well ahead of time, when you have time to develop a detailed plan and discuss it with your family. Creating a plan in a calm state of mind helps you be more thorough and remember details you may otherwise forget. It also creates the opportunity for you and your family to practice your disaster plan, helping to make sure everyone remembers and follows through should the need arise.
Begin by making an emergency preparedness list and organizing items you need, information you need, and things you need to do. Consider the needs of all your family members: medications, diapers, oxygen tanks or medical devices, mobility concerns, etc.
Items you need:
Information you need:
Things you need to do:
Once you have developed this emergency power outage kit, structure a plan, and discuss and rehearse it with your family.
During an earthquake:
- 1Stay where you are if possible. Get beneath a heavy piece of furniture and hold on. Try to protect your head and torso
- 2Remain indoors until the earthquake has passed, being mindful of aftershocks
Immediately after an earthquake:
- 1Remember that earthquakes are followed by aftershocks, and often by landslides or even tsunamis
- 2Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake and can be difficult to detect because alarms and sprinkler systems may be triggered by the earthquake itself, even when there is no fire present. Look for and extinguish fires and be very alert for the smell of leaking gas
- 3Tune in to an emergency broadcast for updates and instructions
- 4If you leave your building, use stairs instead of an elevator, and don't step outside until checking overhead for falling debris
- 5Review your power outage checklist
- 6Turn off and unplug all electronics, appliances, and anything that is plugged in. There may be power surges that damage these devices.
- 7Leave one light switch on, so you can tell when power has been restored
Living with a power outage:
It may take several days for power to be restored after an earthquake or natural disaster. This is why it is good to prepare for a power outage and make a power outage checklist ahead of time. We highly recommend you shall get one of these portable solar generators for emergency backup power. During a long-term power outage, remember to:
- 1Be cautious with candles, and rely on flashlights for light
- 2If you are using a generator for power, be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and practice generator safety
- 3Know how to manually open your electric garage door opener
- 4Turn off an unplug all unnecessary equipment, appliances, and electronics to protect them from surges
- 5Leave one light switch on, to alert you when power is restored
- 6Reduce travel as much as possible. Traffic lights will be out, and the roads may be hazardous
- 7Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, to contain the cold and preserve your food supply. Consume perishable foods first.
Check your list and your emergency supplies at least every year to make sure that batteries are fresh, goods haven’t expired, and that the supplies you have on hand still meet the changing needs of your family. Consider keeping two emergency supply kits: one in the car in case of a disaster that requires evacuation, and one in the home in case of a disaster that requires staying home.
Disaster preparedness can be unpleasant to think about but pays off in peace of mind and knowing that you can take care of yourself and your loved ones in case of an emergency. Adopting these power outage tips and tricks will help you survive an earthquake or natural disaster.