Earthquake Preparation

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All 50 states are vulnerable to an earthquake occurrence, making us all susceptible to its dangers and devastation.

It is estimated that a major earthquake in a highly populated area of the United States could cause as much as $200 billion in losses. The loss of life is even more devastating with, on average, 10,000 people falling victim to earthquakes annually.

Some of the devastation can be avoid through emergency planning and education. Here are some earthquake safety tips and information for you and your family. Some of these tips may save your property. All of these tips may save your life.

Preparing for an Earthquake: Basic Supplies

Prepare yourself:
  • With no electricity, you'll need batteries. A lot of them. Ensure you have flashlights and a portable radio accessible. The radio may be your only contact with the outside world for news and information.
  • Own a fire extinguisher to stop small fires and a pipe wrench to turn off broken gas lines. Gas leaks are extremely dangerous, so take the necessary precautions. Stay alert for gas fumes, have a wrench to turn off the gas in the event of a leak, open windows for ventilation and do not use flame materials such as matches, lighters, cigarettes and candles.
  • With no sewage lines, you'll need plastic bags for garbage and human waste.
  • Assemble a first aid kit with extra prescription medications and keep in a safe place, away from children.

Create an Action Plan

  • If the quake occurs at a time when your family is not all together, where will you meet?
  • If someone is injured, do you have basic knowledge of first aid?
  • Frequently, power lines are knocked down. How will your family manage without power? When the lights are out, will you be able to find the supplies you need in the dark?
  • Earthquakes frequently break water lines. What will you do in a water shortage?
  • The phone lines will certainly be out or overloaded with life-and-death emergencies. Does your family have an emergency communication plan?
  • If the sewage lines are out and you can't use the toilet, do you know what to do?
  • If your gas line is broken, do you know how to shut it off?
Download and print out the Farmers Earthquake Safety Checklist: PDF icon

Earthquake Safety Tips

Here's a list of rules of thumb when facing an earthquake:

Indoors (home or office):

  • Go to interior doorway or seek cover under sturdy objects.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Do not take elevators.
  • Watch for falling debris.
  • Stay out of stairwells.
  • Keep calm!
  • Stay away from buildings, power lines, trees and overpasses.
  • Watch for falling debris (including rocks or bridges).
  • If in a car, pull over to a safe area and stay in your car.
  • Keep calm!
After the shaking stops:
  • Wear shoes.
  • Check and attend to injuries.
  • Check power line damage (gas, electric, water, sewage).
  • Check for damage and potential hazards in the event of aftershocks.
  • Clean up hazardous spills.
  • Turn on portable radio for public safety information.
  • Disinfect water (bleach or boiling). Extra water can be found in toilet tanks (not the bowls), water heaters, ice cubes, canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Check food.
  • Open cupboards carefully. Watch for falling objects.
  • Schedule meals before foods spoil.
  • Check for broken glass.
  • Do not go sightseeing.
  • Do not use telephone except in life/death emergencies.
  • Prepare for aftershocks.
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Food & Water Storage

Water is crucial.
The human body cannot survive more than a few days without it. Damaged water lines may result in contaminated water or no water at all. Your best bet is to keep plenty of bottled water on hand. Generally, each person will need between two quarts and a gallon per day. So keep 1-7 gallons per person on hand just to be safe. If there is still water in your tap, you'll need to disinfect it.

Keep canned and dry foods on hand.
Without electricity, food in the refrigerator will spoil and you may not be able to cook. Generally, canned and dry foods have a shelf life of at least one year. Keep enough food to last each member of the family for a week. Don't forget food for your pets. For your canned food, you'll need a manual can opener. You may also want to keep disposable plates, cups and utensils. Back to Top

More Information

Be sure to review all of your insurance coverages once a year including your Home, Life, Business and Auto insurance policies with your Farmer's agent.