5 Ways to Prepare Your Family for a Major Earthquake

Written by: Ryan Stueber

Due to the recent earthquakes in Alaska, we’ve taken a lot of calls from concerned clients asking about Earthquake Insurance. While having Earthquake Insurance is a great step to protect your home, you need to survive long enough to take advantage of it. Here are five simple steps that I am taking to prepare my family for a major earthquake.

  1. Buy a portable water filtration system

    According to a recent article in the Seattle Times, one of the first things we will lose in a major earthquake is water pressure needed to supply running water. Seattle Public Utilities also warned that it could take up to 2 months to restore running water to the city and its suburbs. So, while it may seem prudent to keep some bottled water in your garage, it likely won’t be enough to get you through. The good news is that we live in an area of the world that generally has a lot of water if you can make it safe to drink. Iodine tablets can be effective but I prefer some of the newer portable filtrations systems that you can find in REI and other camping stores. Katadyn, LifeStraw and Sawyer all make excellent filtration systems for a reasonable cost. Put one (or more) on your Christmas list this year.

  2. Know where to find water nearby

    Assuming you now have a system to filter your water, it would also be prudent to find the nearest natural water source and make sure you have something you can carry water in. I simply looked on Google maps to find the nearest lake and stream and determined how long it would take me to walk there (let’s assume the roads are damaged) and what I could use to carry the water. It would be a long hike but if I could carry four gallons back to the house I would only have to go every other day.

  3. Buy an Emergency Survival Kit for your family

    Having enough food and emergency supplies to last the first 72 hours will be crucial if you are cut off from the world and waiting for assistance. Fortunately, my parents bought us a 4-person emergency kit with food supplies to last at least 72 hours for Christmas last year, so we can check that box off. You can easily go online and do the research as to which kit is right for your family.

  4. Make a plan with your neighbors

    While it may be tempting to only make an emergency plan with your extended family in the case of an earthquake, you may not be able to reach them if they don’t live next door. I plan on coordinating with at least four other neighbors so we are all on the same page and can help each other with food, water, shelter and security. For example, if you know you have a good water filtration kit, ask that one of the other neighbors stockpiles some extra dried and canned food. If two people’s houses are uninhabitable, have the agreement in place ahead of time that they can move into the people’s houses that at still standing. Assume no water, electricity or road access and create a one week to one month plan.

  5. Security

    While I always try to look at the good side of humanity, the reality is that desperation can bring out the worst in us. These catastrophic events bring out some great qualities in some people and while we enjoy those stories, an a little extra caution can go a long way. Be prepared to protect yourself and your family, other people may choose to take these times to demonstrate the worst in humanity. Secure your home the best you can, do what you can to protect your family, yourself and your property.  Stay aware of your surrounding and watch out for others too. Having a conversation now with your neighbors about this topic is a great idea as well. Looking out for one another may save your life, so please take the time to discuss the topic.

If you’d like to learn more, visit our “Should I have earthquake insurance?” or “How Does Earthquake Insurance Work?” articles for some more great insight.

I hope this information has been helpful to you and will help your family be prepared and stay safe in the event of a major earthquake or other natural disaster. I hope even more that we will never have to use it!

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