The Basics



Witness Account

Words to Know

Be Ready!

Famous Earthquakes

Be Ready!

Workers sift through a section of I-880 in Oakland, Calif., on Oct. 19, 1989.
© Paul Sakuma/AP Wide World

Police, fire fighters, first aid helpers and other emergency workers are especially busy after a big earthquake. Roads may be damaged, making travel difficult. It might be difficult for help to reach the scene of earthquake-related damage or injuries.

For these reasons, anyone who lives in an earthquake-prone area should be prepared to be on their own, without help, for at least 72 hours. That means your family should have a well-stocked emergency kit stored in a safe place:

Be sure your kit contains:

  • First aid kit and instruction booklet
  • Plastic tarp or a small tent
  • Emergency ("space") blankets and one sleeping bag for each family member
  • At least one gallon of bottled water per person, per day. For a 3-day supply, that adds up to three gallons of water per person
  • Enough canned or dried food for 3 days
  • Can opener
  • Flashlight (easily in reach)
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Spare batteries for everything (stored separately in waterproof bags)
  • Toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, and other personal supplies
  • Multi-purpose dry chemical (Class ABC) fire extinguisher
  • Any important medicine and supplies for infants, elderly people, and others with special needs

Preparing for an earthquake also means knowing what to do — and what not to do — after an earthquake stops.

Be sure you:

  • Keep calm! You may need your energy to help others less fortunate than you
  • Check yourself and others nearby for injuries
  • Give first aid quickly and carefully
  • Check your home for any major damage or fires
  • Take your emergency supplies with you if you have to leave