Atmosphere And Weather
Earthquake damage in Seward, Alaska

Getting Ready for an Earthquake

Earthquake damage in Seward, Alaska
Rex Trulove's image for:
"Getting Ready for an Earthquake"
Caption: Earthquake damage in Seward, Alaska
Image by: United States [Air Force]
© public domain

Earthquakes are more likely to occur in some areas than in others. However, truth is that they can occur almost anywhere. Planning and preparing for a quake is the first and best chance of survival.

What to do in an Earthquake

To prepare for an earthquake, it is important to know what to do and not to do when one happens. For years, many schools have had drills to prepare the kids for such an event. Children are taught to duck under a desk with their arms above their heads. This still has value, though it is limited.

A collapsing roof may leave pockets of air under desks, and the arms above the head may protect it against falling debris. This is marginal, because the children are still trapped in the structure. Still, this is better than the alternative of running outside where falling glass, brick, glass, power poles, power lines and trees can do far worse damage. Often, a doorway is structurally the best place to be, as it is usually reinforced.


According to the US Geologic Survey, quakes usually strike with little or no warning. It would be a mistake to think that no preparations can be made, however. If the quake is minor, there are few problems usually. If it is major, food, shelter, and water are at a premium. This is true of virtually any natural disaster.

Have a few gallons of water, at the very least, where they can be retrieved readily. Food and a means of cooking it, even by a camp stove, and bedding plus tarps can prevent many of the problems that could occur.

First aid kits are also quite worthwhile. If they are never used, it is great, but the chances are that they will be needed, so the importance is extreme.

A family in Southern Oregon went through a 7.3 earthquake, in a place where they were not frequent at all, and used a camp box to get through. They don't wish to have their identities revealed, however they had few problems and the family plus pets were all survivors. They had the essentials for surviving.


People need to know where to go for shelter in the event of an earthquake, and if they aren't in a city, they need to know where they can go, where it is relatively safe. When a quake strikes, it is common that after tremors will follow. A lot of people don't live in cities. The family mentioned above was in a rural area. However, the protracted family all knew where they would be, and at the end of the earthquake, four families were there, camping, including friends rather than family. All stayed safe, but this was planning in advance.

The people knew where to go and how to find one another. Natural food and water were available by design and planning. As it turned out, the damage from the quake was much lighter than expected, however, the planning and preparation paid off. Nobody in the families was in the danger zone, including the pets, such as dogs and cats.

Nobody knows when and where an earthquake will strike. However, people can prepare and plan ahead of time so when the quake does happen, they have a greatly enhanced chance of surviving it.


US Forest Service infrared mapping survey, Oregon
Emergency Preparation Unit of Klamath Falls, Oregon

More about this author: Rex Trulove

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