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For Earthquakes, Forget The 'Go-Bag.' Here's How To Prepare

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(Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
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Go-bags are great. You never know when California will catch fire and you'll need to evacuate. But go-bags 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 13 minutes of warning, 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.

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. Their list (below) 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.

Step one is to print the document. Say a prayer of gratitude to the trees and then gather up 16 pages of your finest eight 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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(FEMA)


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