Earthquake Preparation

Have you ever thought about the possibility of an earthquake? Are you prepared? There are many things you can do before, during and after an earthquake to help you have a better chance at survival.

HOW TO PREPARE

emergency quake plan

First, having a plan can give you clarity of thought during a time of crisis. The American Red Cross suggests:

  • Become aware of fire evacuation and earthquake safety plans for all of the buildings you occupy regularly.
  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Practice “drop, cover and hold on” in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed in case the earthquake strikes in the middle of the night.
  • Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
  • Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
  • Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
    Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
  • Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy-to-access location. (Click here to view supply kit items available at the Red Cross Store)

Here is a video on HOW TO PREPARE for an earthquake (not affiliated with this site).

It would be a good idea to have a 72 hr kit of supplies, along with a smaller bedside emergency kit. You never know when an earthquake will happen and you may have to leave the house in the middle of the night or you might even become trapped in or near your bed. A bedside kit filled with essentials such as water, snacks, shoes, socks (to cover your arms or feet), a whistle, flashlight or glowstick, mini first aid kit, and handkerchief could easily mean the difference between injury and safety, or life and death. The following is an example of a bedside emergency kit.

Bedside Kit copy

As the American Red Cross suggests, at a minimum, you should have the basic supplies listed below:

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)

Additional supplies to keep at home or in your survival kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

WHAT TO DO DURING AN EARTHQUAKE

Having the knowledge of what to do during an earthquake can significantly reduce your changes of becoming injured.

drop, cover, hold onIf You Are Inside When the Shaking Begins…

  • Drop, cover and hold on. Move as little as possible. If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.
  • Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. When it is, use stairs rather than the elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.
  • Be aware that fire alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.

If You Are Outside When the Shaking Begins…

  • Find a clear spot (away from buildings, power lines, trees, streetlights) and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop.
  • Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible.
  • Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Then, drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
  • If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris. Landslides are often triggered by earthquakes.

Here is a video on what to do DURING an earthquake (not affiliated with this site).

WHAT TO DO AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE

after quake

  • After an earthquake, the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami. Tsunamis are often generated by earthquakes.
  • Each time you feel an aftershock, drop, cover and hold on. Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get First Aid, if necessary, before helping injured or trapped persons.
  • Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects.
  • Look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
  • Listen to a portable, battery-operated or hand-crank radio for updated emergency information and instructions.
  • Check the telephones in your home or workplace to see if you can get a dial tone. Make brief calls to report life-threatening emergencies.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.
  • Open closet and cabinet doors carefully as contents may have shifted.
  • Help people who require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or disabled.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and stay out of damaged areas.
  • Keep animals under your direct control.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • If you were away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so. Use extreme caution and examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to check for damage.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.

Here is a video on what to do AFTER an earthquake (not affiliated with this site).

Though the thought of a natural disaster can be a little scary and unnerving, the truth of the matter is, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”

Temporal Preps: Where to Begin?

In the October 1980 General Conference, President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion. The Lord has warned and forewarned us against a day of great tribulation and given counsel, through His servants, on how we can be prepared for these difficult times. Have we heeded His counsel?”

President Benson admonished, “Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church—and the need for that cleansing seems to be increasing—a famine in this land of one year’s duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers. Yet we cannot say we have not been warned.” (Conference Report, April 1965, pp. 121-125.)

Those are powerful statements! We have been told by our modern day prophets, time and time again, that it’s a commandment to become temporally prepared. There’s so much to do and so much to learn, and it can be a little overwhelming to try to figure out where to begin. In this post, We’ll outline some of the basics of becoming temporally prepared. Each of these topics can be found on the LDS church’s Provident Living website.

WATER

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According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.

Each day humans must consume a certain amount of water to survive. Of course, this varies according to age and gender, and also by where someone lives. Generally, an adult male needs about 3 liters per day while an adult female needs about 2.2 liters per day. Some of this water can come from our food.

Water regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration. It also aids in metabolism and in flushing waste. It acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus. It forms saliva and lubricates joints. Water is critical for our survival. You can make it 3 weeks without food but, generally, you’ll only make it 2-3 days without water.

Aside from water being a basic survival need, think about all of the ways you use water and how rough life would be without it.

When storing water, you’ll need to store enough to drink, bathe, wash dishes & clothes; and store enough for cleaning and sanitation. A good rule of thumb is to store at least one gallon per person per day for at least 3 days–that’s 2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation. Some sources say that a family of four should store a minimum of 12 gallons of water. But honestly, you’ll need much, much more. I plan on storing at least a 55 gal barrel of water per person, plus several cases of bottled water. In an emergency situation such as an earthquake where power and water systems could be down for weeks, it’s ideal to have as much water on hand as possible, in addition to many different forms of water purification. Click here for more information on water storage.

FOOD

Family-Canning

In the April 1974 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball said, “We encourage families to have on hand a year’s supply; and we say it over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, ‘Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?’”

President Brigham Young asked, “If you are without bread, how much wisdom can you boast, and of what real utility are your talents, if you cannot procure for yourselves and save against a day of scarcity those substances designed to sustain your natural lives?” (Journal of Discourses, 8:68.)

Food is vital to our temporal and spiritual well-being. If we’re hungry, we’re going to have a hard time hearing the whisperings of the spirit over the grumble of our tummies. Our prophets are wise to ask us to set aside food for the future. In the case of economic downturn, personal tragedy or natural disaster, having food set aside will protect us and bless us. A year’s supply of survival food and a 3 month supply of rotatable goods, will surely come in handy.

President Harold B. Lee said, “Perhaps if we think not in terms of a year’s supply of what we ordinarily would use, and think more in terms of what it would take to keep us alive in case we didn’t have anything else to eat, that last would be very easy to put in storage for a year … just enough to keep us alive if we didn’t have anything else to eat. We wouldn’t get fat on it, but we would live; and if you think in terms of that kind of annual storage rather than a whole year’s supply of everything that you are accustomed to eat which, in most cases, is utterly impossible for the average family, I think we will come nearer to what President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., advised us way back in 1937.” (Welfare Conference, 1 October 1966.)

The LDS Church has a wonderful resource available to everyone. Home Storage Centers are stocked with basic food items such a wheat, rice, beans, pasta, dry milk, and some vegetables and fruits. Food is available for purchase online or at Home Storage Center locations. There has been a lot of research done on the amount of food that should be stored. BYU’s food storage department just updated their food storage requirements list. It’s based on a 2000-2400 calorie diet. Consuming a  higher calorie diet is necessary while enduring times of stress or crisis, so it would be wise to follow the counsel of the prophets by storing AT LEAST one year’s worth of food.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “As we become more affluent and our bank accounts enlarge, there comes a feeling of security, and we feel sometimes that we do not need the supply that has been suggested by the Brethren. … We must remember that conditions could change and a year’s supply of basic commodities could be very much appreciated by us or others. So we would do well to listen to what we have been told and to follow it explicitly.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 11: Provident Living: Applying Principles of Self-Reliance and Preparedness, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006), 114–23)

FINANCE

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“We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. … If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts” (All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances).

Avoid debt. Save for emergencies. Have some cash on hand. Create a budget and live by it. Avoid over-spending. Live within your means and learn to be frugal and modest in your expenditures. All of these tips can be studied in more depth, here.

Pay an honest tithe and give a generous fast offerings.

President Henry B. Eyring said, “If we decide now to be a full-tithe payer and if we are steady in paying it, blessings will flow throughout the year, as well as at the time of tithing settlement. By our decision now to be a full-tithe payer and our steady efforts to obey, we will be strengthened in our faith and, in time, our hearts will be softened. It is that change in our hearts through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, beyond the offering of our money or goods, that makes it possible for the Lord to promise full-tithe payers protection in the last days. 5 We can have confidence that we will qualify for that blessing of protection if we commit now to pay a full tithe and are steady in doing it.” (“Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady”, General Conference, October 2005)

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE

“We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Are We Prepared?”, Ensign, September 2014)

Have you considered what you might do in the case of an emergency? What plans do you have in place? Do you have a 72-hour kit of basic survival items that you can grab quickly in case of an earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster? Do you know how to reconnect with family or friends in case you get separated in a disaster? Does your family know what to do? Do they know where to go if you’re not together when something happens? These are scenarios we should play through our minds when thinking about what to do in an emergency. What would you take with you if you only had 10 minutes to leave? Do you know how to fix a flat tire, put on snow chains, or jump start the car battery? Do you know how to shut off the utilities to your home? Do you know how take care of your sanitation needs when you’re without plumbing? What are you going to do when it’s dark and the power is out? All very important things to think about. We’ll go into further depth about emergency plans in future posts, but for now, here’s a few resources to get you started:

  1. Church guidelines for emergency communications
  2. Utah’s 72 hour kit checklist
  3. An example of a 72 hour kit
  4. Another example of a 72 hour kit
  5. An example of a prioritized evacuation list

SHELTER

tent

There is much we can learn from the experiences had by the early Mormon pioneers. “Before leaving Nauvoo, members had Church-published lists of what to take with them. But when the first companies left in February 1846, several hundred members panicked and crossed the Mississippi River without proper clothes, food, or shelter. As a result, they brought suffering upon themselves, slowed down others, and drained resources from those properly prepared. Trail death tolls reveal that the highest numbers of deaths were among infants and the elderly. Some pioneers became cold and wet because wagon covers and tents were not waterproof. Others suffered sunburns when they lost their hats. Their lips chapped from the dry air, wind, and sun. Many suffered diarrhea and lacked medicine to stop it. Some travelers, while dressed properly for summer heat, lacked coats and gloves for the cold mountain temperatures experienced before reaching the Salt Lake Valley. In addition, pioneers had to guard against wildlife, particularly snakes and wolves. In many campsites they suffered from swarms of mosquitoes that badly hurt children and angered horses and cattle,” (William G. Hartley, “Sturdy Shoes and A Waterproof Tent,” October 2001).

We may not have to pack up and leave our homes like the pioneers, but have you ever thought of needing an alternative shelter to your home? Often, during natural disasters or times of war, homes are destroyed or deemed unsafe for the time being. Having a tent on hand could really come in handy in an emergency.

In a recent article from Meridian Magazine, entitled, “7 Things I Learned from an Earthquake in the Third World,” author Scot Facer Proctor states that, “Shelter, after an earthquake, is nearly the number one need—and tents are the most economical temporary solution. There are a number of things that are great about tents: They are very economical. They are easily obtained in India and China and can be trucked right to the places of greatest needs. If you are in a tent during an aftershock (and we felt many of these after the Haiti earthquake in January 2010), you are safe. If the tent is knocked over, you just put it up again. You can’t be crushed by rip-stop nylon. A tent provides shelter from rain, sun, insects and cold.”

It would be wise for every family to have a tent on hand in case of an emergency when your home could be destroyed or temporarily unavailable.

CLOTHING & WARM BEDDING

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Have you ever been cold? Like really cold? Alaskan Mountain, Arctic Tundra cold? It’s no fun. What if you were displaced from your home in the winter? No heat, no electricity for days or weeks and no way to travel to the nearest hotel with a fancy hot chocolate maker in the lobby?

If it was winter and an earthquake or other disaster damaged your home and/or the other homes in your neighborhood, and you couldn’t get to a hotel, and even if you could, it didn’t have the power to run a furnace, you would probably end up sleeping in that tent of yours in the backyard or in the nearest park or football field. How would you stay warm? A nice warm sleeping bag would be perfect! You’ll want something that’s at least 0 degrees or below (they never feel as warm as they claim to be). And for the time that you’re not in your bag, you’ll need warm clothing. Coats, hats, gloves, boots, long sleeved shirts and warm long pants, wool socks, thermal underwear… the list could go on and on.

“Concerning clothing, we should anticipate future needs, such as extra work clothes and clothes that would supply warmth during winter months when there may be shortages or lack of heating fuel. Leather and bolts of cloth could be stored, particularly for families with younger children who will outgrow and perhaps outwear their present clothes. ‘The day will come,’ said President Wilford Woodruff, ‘when, as we have been told, we shall all see the necessity of making our own shoes and clothing and raising our own food’,”  (Ezra T. Benson, Prepare Ye, Ensign, January 1974, (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 166)).

It’s no fun to be cold or unprepared, so just plan to have some of these items on hand, where you can access them easily in case of an emergency.

FUEL

fuel sources

Why in the world would you need fuel in an emergency? Well, fuel can heat your home (or temporary home, aka. tent), heat your food, give you light, and run a vehicle or generator.

President Ezra Taft Benson suggested that “Wood, coal, gas, oil, kerosene, and even candles are among those items which could be reserved as fuel for warmth, cooking, and light or power.” (“Prepare Ye”, Ezra T. Benson, January 1974)

Things to think about when it comes to fuel… What kind of fuel do I need? What will I be using it for? How should I store it? LDS Living goes into detail in their article, “Safely Stored Fuel is an Essential.”

GET TO WORK

President Marion G. Romney stated: “It is my opinion that we Latter-day Saints, because of the knowledge we have received in the revelations, are better prepared to meet the perplexities of our times than are any other people. We know more about the difficulties which are coming, and we have the key to their solution,” (If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear, July 1981).

There is so much to do to become better prepared for the unexpected, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed because we have been given the guidance we need to move forward. By working toward obtaining these essentials, your supply will begin to grow; you will begin to have peace, and when the times comes, you’ll be prepared!