STEPS TO PREPARE
DON’T GET CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Earthquakes can happen in California at any time. Whether you are a resident or visitor, you will need to react quickly to minimize injuries and hazards. During an earthquake, travel routes may be blocked, running gas or water may compromise safety, and access to technology may be limited. Preparation is critical.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has compiled this tip sheet with important resources for earthquake preparation. Please share this information and encourage others in your community to take part in emergency planning. More resources are available at earthquake.ca.gov.
1. Participate in Earthquake Warning California
Scientists are still unable to predict earthquakes, but thanks to new technology, individuals and organizations can potentially receive a few seconds of notice to take appropriate safety precautions before an earthquake strikes. Earthquake Warning California utilizes the California Integrated Seismic Network, which is a partnership between Cal OES, United States Geological Survey (USGS), UC Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology, and the California Geological Survey. The system uses ground-motion sensors to detect earthquakes that have already started and estimates their size, location, and impact. When it detects a significant magnitude, the
system issues a ShakeAlert® Message, providing a warning before shaking begins. To receive earthquake warnings, individuals and family members can download the MyShake App and ensure phone settings are adjusted to receive emergency alerts, including:
WEA Government Emergency Alerts: No-cost text messages for emergency situations (magnitude 5.0 or higher and Modified Mercalli Intensity IV shaking);
My Shake App: Free smartphone app that provides iPhone and Android users with audio and visual warnings (magnitude 4.5 or higher and Modified Mercalli Intensity III shaking). Available in the Apple App and Google Play stores; and
Android Earthquake Alerts: Android phones with updated operating systems are automatically subscribed to Android Earthquake Alerts, which uses the same technology as the MyShake App.
1. Once your phone is set up:
Set phone location settings for the MyShake App, Android Earthquake Alerts, and Government Emergency Alerts to “always on.”
Ensure all household members know what an earthquake warning sounds and looks like. You can test a MyShake App warning under the “Settings” tab. Individuals may have seen a Government Emergency Alert for other emergencies (e.g., AMBER Alerts, wildfires, flash floods).
If you receive an earthquake warning, immediately take steps to protect yourself. You may receive a warning without experiencing shaking; however, always react with the expectation that shaking will follow.
2. Know How to Protect Yourself During an Earthquake
If an earthquake occurs:
Drop to the ground, cover your head with your arms, and hold onto your neck until shaking stops.
Do not stand in a doorway. Stay away from large glass windows and mirrors.
If you have difficulty getting onto or off the ground without assistance, cover your head with your arms as much as possible, and try to remain in place. For more accessible safety tips, visit: earthquakecountry.org/disability.
3. Develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan
Create a customized emergency plan for your specific needs:
Think through details of your everyday life, considering locations where you might be during an earthquake (e.g., at home, in the car, outside). If possible, hold practice drills in these settings. Learn emergency protocols for your workplace, school, transportation, and frequently visited places.
If you are a parent or guardian, explain to those being cared for what to do during and after an earthquake, in case you or another adult are not present.
4. Pack an Emergency Supply Kit (See below under Emergency checklist)
Your emergency kit should address all daily needs and include:
A family plan with instructions and information for contacting others. Include a reminder to use text messages, if possible, to keep emergency call lines open.
Basic supplies: a radio, first-aid kit, flashlight, batteries, water, and non- perishable food for your family and pets. Prescription and over-the-counter medications, medical equipment (including accessories, like hearing aid batteries or prescription glasses), and medical records.
5. Understand and Mitigate Hazards
Natural disasters can occur anywhere, but earthquakes are more common in certain regions. Visit myhazards.caloes.ca.gov to learn about local risks and how to prepare your home (including securing furniture, appliances, home fuel systems, and more).
EMERGENCY LIST CHECKLIST
Store all your supplies in a plastic tub that is easily accessible.
Three gallons of water per person, to last three days, for drinking and hygiene.
At least a three-day supply of nonperishable foods. Don’t forget a manual can opener.
At least a week’s worth of medication. Don’t forget non-prescription medications.
In case ATMs are unavailable or credit /debit card systems are down.
Copies of any documents you can’t lose, along with your family emergency plan.
Utensils, cups, tupperware, napkins, plastic ties, garbage bags and disinfectant wipes.
Moist towelettes and hand sanitizer. Also, don’t forget toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Blanket & Clothes
Keep a spare set of clothes and blankets to keep warm and dry.
Battery-powered or hand crank radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio.
Don’t forget the extra batteries. Consider adding some light sticks.
First Aid Kit & Dust Mask
For any medical needs and to help filter contaminated air.
Whistle & Local Map
Use to signal for help and evacuate without GPS if needed.
Cell Phone Chargers
Include a solar charger and/or fully charged power banks (will need to be recharged).
Plastic Sheeting & Duct Tape
To help shelter-in-place if needed. Also consider nylon rope.
Wrench and Pliers
To turn off utilities. Multi-purpose/ multi-functional tool as well.
Hand warmers, waterproof matches, gloves, pocket knife and fire extinguisher.
More information at https://www.ready.gov/kit
BEFORE THE QUAKE:
Learn basic First Aid and CPR.
Learn how to turn off gas, water and electricity.
Learn where to take cover during an earthquake.
Learn locations of nearby hospitals, clinics, fire stations, etc.
Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated or if travel becomes difficult.
Designate an out-of-state friend or relative that separated family members can call to report their whereabouts and condition.
Conduct practice drills.
Keep pet identification tags current.
SECURE YOUR HOME:
Secure water heater and refrigerator. Place heavy items on lower shelves. Make certain shelves are securely fastened.
Keep flammable or hazardous liquids (such as paints, pest sprays or cleaning products) in cabinets or secured on lower shelves.
DURING THE QUAKE:
If You’re Indoors, Stay There!
Get under a desk or table or stand in a corner.
Stay away from glass.
Do not use candles, matches or other open flames during or after the tremor in case of possible gas leaks.
If You’re Outdoors:
Get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines.
The greatest danger from falling debris is outside and close to outer walls. If possible, move to an open area.
If You’re Driving:
Pull over to the side of the road and come to a full stop.
Avoid overpasses and power lines.
Stay inside your car until the shaking is over.
Be aware of hazards like falling tree branches and other debris, downed electrical wires and damaged roadways.
If You’re In a High-rise Building:
Stay away from windows or outside walls.
Get under a table.
Do not use elevators.
If You’re In a Crowded Public Place:
Do not rush for exit doors.
Move away from display shelves containing objects that could fall.
AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE:
Check for injuries and apply First Aid.
Do not move seriously injured individuals unless they’re in immediate danger.
Hunt for Hazards:
Check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines.
If there is damage, turn utilities off at the source. Do not turn on the gas, let the gas company do it.
Check building for cracks and damage, including roof, chimneys and foundation.
Be prepared for aftershocks.
Check Your Supplies:
Check food and water supplies.
Obtain emergency water from water heaters, melted ice cubes and canned vegetables.
Turn on your portable radio for instructions and news reports.
Work With Authorities:
Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
Do not use your vehicle except in an emergency.
Keep streets and roads clear for emergency vehicles.
DO NOT go sight-seeing!
Adults and children should always carry an emergency card.
Stay calm and stay active helping others.
IF YOU DO EVACUATE, PLAN AHEAD:
List three places where family members should plan to go if they cannot stay in or return to their home.
If you arrive home after the quake and no one is there, this list will provide you with places to start looking for other family members.
Stay In Communication:
Turn on your portable or car radio for information and safety advisories.
Only use your phone for emergencies and to call your out-of-area contact to inform them of your status.
Things to Take With You:
Medicines and First Aid kit.
Flashlight, portable radio and batteries.
Important papers and cash.
Food, water, sleeping bags and extra clothes.
Learn School Policies:
Determine in advance whether the school’s policy is to hold or to release your children in the event of an emergency.
Leave a Message:
Post a message inside your home indicating where you can be found.