Jackie Kloosterboer has been teaching people how to prepare for earthquakes for close to 2 decades.  She is the author of My Earthquake Preparedness Guide – Simple Steps to get You, Your Family and Pets Prepared. Follow Jackie on Twitter @Surviving_it to receive Earthquake Preparedness tips to help develop your Family’s Earthquake Plan.

Nepal – Could we be next?The devastating Nepal earthquake claimed the lives of so many innocent men, women and children, injured thousands, devastated people’s livelihoods and then less than a month later another earthquake – absolutely unbelievable!  What terrifies me is – like Nepal we too are overdue for an earthquake and so few of us are prepared. I can only imagine what it would be like on the West Coast in the aftermath of 2 major earthquakes. We need to look at Nepal as yet another wakeup call and start taking action to get ourselves, our families and pets prepared – we could be next!  Look at your own family, how would an earthquake impact them?  What if you are not together when it strikes – could they survive without you?  What plans do you have to connect after an earthquake?  What supplies have you got stored so you can better survive-it?   If you are like most people, you have a few supplies tucked away in the back of the hall closet – but do you have enough to sustain you, your family and pets for a minimum of 3 days – a week is even better!  The following 3 simple steps is a great place to start to better protect you, your family and pets in an earthquake:

Create your Family Meeting Places Family Meeting Places are pre-identified locations where your family will meet when unable to connect using regular methods of communication.  Hopefully we are home together when facing an earthquake, but that may not be the case, we could be at work, they could be at soccer practice – we just don’t know.  That is why you need to identify Family Meeting Places so you will have options to connect.  The more options you have the better your chances of connecting with your family.    Your first Family Meeting Place should be outside your home – if you need to evacuate quickly such as for a house fire this is where you and your family will meet. Across the street is good.  If you evacuate through different doors you could be scattered and not know the safety of your family because you can’t locate them.  This Family Meeting Place will help you connect much faster and you will know everyone is safe much quicker.   Develop a second Family Meeting Places within walking distance of your home. If you must evacuate your home or you are not able to return home your family can meet there. A friend or family member who lives within walking distance works well.  Once you have connected with your family you can then determine your next move.   For those of you who work close together – identify a Family Meeting Place close to your work. If you cross bridges to get home you may find them closed after an earthquake.  If you have a Family Meeting Place near your work you can meet your family who is in the same area and then determine if best to make your way home or stay in your current location.   Look at your daily lives and identify if there are other Family Meeting Places you need to identify to help connect your family.

 Designate Your Family’s Out of Area Contact When an earthquake strikes there are so many unknowns – will our internet be down, will we be able to text – will our cell phones work – until the earthquake happens we don’t know the answer. What we do know is – the more options you have available to connect with your family the better your chances will be of making that connection.  In addition to your Family Meeting Places, an Out of Area contact provides another way for you to connect with your family.   We know our home phones and cell phones will likely not be working after a significant earthquake, but often long distance will still work.
Simply identify someone who lives out of the province (preferably east of the Rockies) to be your family’s Out of Area Contact. When faced with an earthquake and cell phones and local phones lines are not working, you and your family members will know to call your Out of Area contact to provide your status and get updates on family members who have already called in.
A word of caution – we all put our contact numbers in our cell phones – but if power is out and you can’t charge your phone you won’t have access to your Out of Area contact number. Make sure you carry your Out of Area’s contact number in your wallet.

Know what to do when the earth starts moving Drop, Cover and Hold On – this must become second nature to all of us. When the earth starts moving we must immediately Drop, Cover and Hold On underneath a heavy table or desk or against an interior wall so we are better protected from falling and shooting objects. Once the shaking stops – slowly count to 60 then cautiously get out of your safe spot and check your surroundings. Check on family members and then identify what your next move will be.   The above 3 steps are not difficult for you and your family to do and if this is all you do, you will better survive the earthquake. But don’t stop here – keep going and get those emergency kits and supplies your family will need and make your home and office safe so when the earth starts moving – you, your family and pets will be better protected.  Once the earthquake hits it will be too late. You won’t be able to run out and get what you need. The time to do it is now.  Remember – your family is counting on you!