These checklists are a good place to start in preparing your family and your house for emergencies including earthquakes, wildfires and flooding.
Assemble your emergency kit. It’s crucial to have a go-bag and other earthquake supplies at the ready. Here are the details on what you’ll need.
Have a family plan. Make sure all members of your household know your strategy.
- Pick a place to meet if you are in different places when a disaster strikes.
- Determine who will pick up the kids from school, and who will check on the pets and, if necessary, prepare them for evacaution. Know the school’s emergency plan, and keep your kids’ emergency release cards up to date.
- Designate a person outside your area (at least 100 miles away) as a message contact. Make sure this number is in everyone’s mobile phone, including the kids’. If local lines are jammed, it’s often easier to get through to somebody farther away.
Know these things about your home:
- How to open your garage door and/or security gate if the electricity is off.
- Where the utility connections are and how to shut off the gas, electricity and water if necessary; same with propane tanks. Pacific Gas & Electric advises not to turn these off unless you suspect there’s a leak or damaged wires. With gas, it could be a long time until a utility crew can turn it back on.
Make the inside of your home safer.
- Move beds away from windows and glass skylights. Remove heavy pictures and shelves from above beds.
- Secure tall furniture — bookcases, cabinets — to studs in walls. Make sure heavy hanging objects, such as lights, are attached to ceiling studs.
- Put latches on cabinet doors.
- Install emergency lights, particularly in halls and stairways.
- Strap your water heater to the wall. Most hardware stores sell kits for this purpose for about $30. This is particularly important for preventing gas leaks.
- Install safety film on large windows or glass doors.
Make sure your home is structurally safe.
- Consult with a structural engineer about foundation bolting, crawl space reinforcement, chimney bracing, flexible gas connections.
- The California program Earthquake Brace + Bolt provides $3,000 seismic retrofit grants for homeowners in certain areas. Registration is open for 30 days each year; check the program’s website to see if you’re eligible.
Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage.
Standard homeowners and renters insurance doesn’t cover most earthquake damage. If you have homeowners insurance, the provider is required to offer to sell you an earthquake policy, which is usually from the California Earthquake Authority. If you’re a renter, you can buy additional quake coverage for your possessions and for expenses associated with living elsewhere while your unit is repaired.
Compile a household inventory document and update it every year.
RELATED: Earthquake kits: What to put in a go-bag, plus what supplies to keep at home and in the car
Alice J. Roden started working for Trending Insurance News at the end of 2021. Alice grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. A writer with a vast insurance industry background Alice has help with several of the biggest insurance companies. Before joining Trending Insurance News, Alice briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers home, renters and other property insurance stories.