Crisis Mangement Series: Preparing Your Family response to an Earthquake

April 11, 2024

Crisis Mangement Series: Preparing Your Family response to an Earthquake


By Daniel Brunner | Chief Operating Officer | Brunner Sierra Group

In our second entry into our series on Crisis Management, we explore how to prepare for, respond to, and react to an earthquake. This guide aims to equip you with the necessary tools and knowledge to navigate the challenges posed by such natural disasters effectively.

As anyone that resides in in New Jersey or New York can attest to this week, earthquakes strike without warning, and their unpredictability makes them particularly menacing natural disasters. The key to safeguarding your family lies in preparedness and education. Here’s how to prepare your family for a crisis management response to an earthquake.

1. Educate Everyone

The first step in preparation is education. Ensure every family member understands what an earthquake is, and what it can cause. Use resources from credible organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the American Red Cross to explain the dangers and the importance of immediate and correct response actions.

2. Create a Communication Plan

During an earthquake, family members may be in different locations. It's vital to create a communication plan that includes:

  • Emergency Contacts: List of contacts inside and outside the area, including a point person outside the disaster zone.
  • Communication Channels: Establish how you will communicate if cell networks are down. Consider alternative methods like social media or emergency radios.
  • Meeting Points: Designate safe meeting points in case your home is inaccessible.

3. Build an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit is a crucial part of your preparedness strategy. Your kit should include:

  • Basic Supplies: Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days), non-perishable food, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, medications, and personal hygiene items.
  • Important Documents: Copies of identification, insurance policies, and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
  • Special Needs: Consider the needs of pets, infants, elderly family members, or those with special medical requirements.

4. Secure Your Home

Minimize potential hazards in your home before an earthquake occurs:

  • Anchor Heavy Furniture: Secure bookcases, refrigerators, televisions, and other heavy furniture to walls.
  • Secure Objects: Fix heavy paintings, mirrors, and other objects so they won’t fall during shaking.
  • Practice Utility Safety: Teach family members how to shut off gas, water, and electricity to prevent fires and flooding.

5. Practice Drills

Practice makes perfect. Regularly conduct earthquake drills with your family:

  • Drop, Cover, and Hold On: Teach everyone to drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table or piece of furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops.
  • Evacuation Plan: Practice evacuating your home and meeting at your designated area.

6. Stay Informed

Knowledge is power. Stay informed about earthquake risks in your area:

  • Local Seismic Activity: Follow local news and download earthquake alert apps to receive real-time updates.
  • Community Resources: Know where to find help in your community, such as emergency shelters, medical centers, and post-earthquake assistance programs.

7. Review and Update Your Plan Regularly

As your family grows and changes, so should your earthquake preparedness plan. Review and update your plan at least once a year or after any significant life event, such as moving to a new home or welcoming a new family member.

Wether you are an earthquake veteran like my friends and colleagues from California, or a rookie like those from the Tri-state area, preparing your family for an earthquake requires more than just a one-time effort; it’s an ongoing process of education, practice, and revision. By taking proactive steps today, you can ensure that your family remains resilient and capable of navigating the challenges of an earthquake with confidence and calm. Remember, the goal is not just to survive but to thrive in the aftermath of such events, with minimal impact on your family’s well-being and security.