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For Earthquakes, Forget The 'Go-Bag.' Here's How To Prepare
Keeping supplies accessible is crucial.
Rows of water bottles can be seen from above
(Jonathan Chng
Unsplash )
(Jonathan Chng
Unsplash )
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The Big One: Your Survival Guide
  • At LAist, we've thought a lot about how to motivate people to prep for the massive earthquake that's inevitable here in Southern California. We even dedicated an entire podcast to it.

  • We teamed up last year with our friends at the L.A. Times to push Southern Californians to get ready. You can watch that virtual event covering the basics of quake survival. We've also gathered the best of our coverage in a no-nonsense guide to getting ready. No more excuses. Let's do this.

Go-bags are great. You never know when California will catch fire and you'll need to evacuate. But they can't help you in an emergency that has no warning.

Hurricanes provide hours or even days of warning. Even tornadoes bearing down give about on average. But not earthquakes.

For a major earthquake, you will be lucky to get seconds of warning. How far do you expect to get in seconds? See that table? Go there. And hope you get under it in time.

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So, now that we’ve established you won’t be able to flee ahead of a big quake, let’s talk about staying. And you’ll need more than a bag.

An earthquake bag is for running away from your house, says seismologist Lucy Jones.

"Why are you running away from your house? Your house is probably going to be the safest place to be."

Jones says to get supplies and keep them all over your home, your office and your car so that wherever you are when the big one hits, you have the option of staying put.

If we had to design a checklist from scratch about how to prepare for an earthquake it would look very much like the checklist FEMA has already created. Yay for us. And for you.

An image from the FEMA Checklist with writing on it that explains what the booklet was designed for.

Their list is very detailed. It goes through what you need, why you need it, and even has worksheets you can fill out and put in your wallet with emergency contacts and prescription drug info.

What if you're driving when the quake hits? They go over that too. What if you want to know how not to get a concussion from a hanging potted plant that's been turned into a projectile? Yes. That too.

Download FEMA's Earthquake Safety Checklist

Step one is to print the document. Say a prayer of gratitude to the trees and then gather 16 pages of your finest 8 and a half by 11s. Print it, read it, and keep it on hand. And please fill out the worksheet pages now, not while you're under that table.

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  • This story was originally published in January 2019 with the launch of the podcast. It has been lightly updated.