According to the California Earthquake Authority, homeowners are investing more than ever in earthquake insurance, with current coverage totaling over one million homes across the state.
The non-profit organization dedicated to earthquake safety says policy sales soared last year, especially following the devastating quakes in Mexico in September. That month, a record number of homeowners raced for coverage, with September's policy count exceeding twice that in previous months.
While there's unfortunately no true safeguard for disasters like earthquakes, authorities say preparedness is key. Taking simple steps to secure potential hazards in your home, like a wobby bookshelf; creating a disaster plan with loved ones and choosing a safe meeting spot; and making an emergency kit of nonperishable food, first-aid items, and other necessities are just three tips the CEA gives for earthquake readiness.
"Scientists say there's a greater than 99 percent chance of a magnitude-6.7 earthquake happening in California in the next 30 years," says California Earthquake Authority CEO Glenn Pomeroy. "Taking a little time to plan ahead means we'll be better able to survive and recover when disaster strikes."
Fifty years ago this evening, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake rumbled deep and long in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, severely damaging Anchorage and triggering a tsunami that killed more than 100 as it struck the coasts of Alaska, Oregon, and California. “The earthquake lasted approximately 4.5 minutes and is the most powerful recorded earthquake in U.S. history,” says the U.S. Geological Survey, which has compiled a 50th-anniversary retrospective of the Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami with seismic data and hundreds of photos.
In the Ring of Fire, it’s only a matter of time before the next big quake—and its potentially resulting tsunami waves. But there are steps you can take to prepare your family to survive the shaking and subsequent damage until help arrives.
Since you can’t predict where you’ll be when a quake hits, the San Francisco Fire Department’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training program advises that you create a disaster and reunification plan—sketching out what you’ll do in an emergency and where you’ll meet up with family if you’re not at home together—plus 3 earthquake kits: One for your home, one to carry in your car, and one to leave at work. (Have kids? Work with their teachers to create school kits with food, water, a comfort item, a family photo, and a note from you.)
Your work and car “go kits” can often fit in a backpack and are intended to get you safely to your reunion spot—and have a backup site in case the first one is damaged or inaccessible. Include:
- A change of clothes
- Portable radio
- First aid kit
- Some money (in small bills)
- Some food and water
- Fire extinguisher
- Bleach or other water purification method
- Warm clothes
- Work boots and work gloves
- Can opener and a few pots and pans
- Dishes, cups, and utensils
- Wrench for turning off water and gas (if there’s a leak)
- Toilet paper, heavy-duty plastic bags, and duct tape (or store some of your kit in a small trash can that you can use as a “honey bucket”)
- Soap and other hygiene items
- Money (in small bills)
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Copies of insurance coverage and out-of-state emergency contact’s phone number
- Leash and pet carrier, plus pet photo in case you get separated