Five Simple Steps to Make Your Home "Emergency Ready" for 2018

Five Simple Steps to Make Your Home

A few years ago, my friend Zach and I decided to (finally) get our families prepared for the next major earthquake. Living on the west coast means that earthquake prep is a must-do. When we got down to it, we were amazed by how many people haven’t truly prepared their families, and we were inspired to make it simple and easy. We started an emergency preparedness company, and we’ve helped more than 20,000 people with earthquake preparedness over the past 3 years.

2017 gave us too many reasons to think about preparedness. Disasters caused over $400 billion in damages. There was a 1000% increase in applicants for FEMA aid. Fires up and down the west coast left families scrambling to evacuate with no time to spare, hurricanes pummeled the Gulf Coast in historic proportions, and people everywhere were dealing with new disasters. Experts warn to expect even more of the same in 2018.

It’s never fun to think about your family in a disaster situation, but a few simple steps can make your family safer and better prepared in the days after a major emergency. 

Have a few minutes right now? Here are 5 things you can quickly do today that will absolutely keep your family safer in the next major earthquake.

1) Put Shoes By Your Bed 

Shoes Under the Bed

An earthquake shakes literally everything around, causing furniture, shelves and everything unsecured to fall and break. It covers your floors with broken glass, smashed pottery, wine bottle shards, and anything else you can imagine. There is a 33% chance the next major earthquake happens while you are asleep. Imagine... it’s dark, the power is out, you are in bare feet and you have to evacuate!

If you have to leave, you'll be walking the streets barefoot, and could be on the move for hours or days after the event. A pair of shoes can be a game changer in a dangerous situation.

Have 15 seconds? Put a pair of old shoes under your bed right now.

Pro Tip - secure your shoes! Throw them in a bag and tie the straps to a leg of the bed so you can actually find them!

2) Add a Flashlight to Your Nightstand

Expect the power to be out after an earthquake. That fun flashlight function on your phone? It’s not going to last long without power to plug it in. Plus, your phone is a key source of communication and information. By relying on a flashlight for emergency events, you can see what's going on around you and preserve your phone's power.

Pro Tip - secure your flashlight! Just like your shoes (and everything else) your flashlight is no good if you can't find it after it's been tossed by an earthquake. Throw it in your nightstand drawer, or between your mattress and boxspring.

Bonus tip: remember to test the batteries in your flashlight and smoke alarms when you change the clocks during daylight savings time twice a year.

3) Move Your Earthquake Bag

Your earthquake bag should be easy to grab - check out our blog HERE about where to store it. You don't know where you will be when an earthquake strikes, and may be in a panic trying to keep yourself and your family safe. Your bag should be near the main exit of your home, so you can get it quickly. Consider putting it under a sturdy piece of furniture (mudroom bench)... somewhere it won't get covered or lost.

Unfortunately you won't have time to collect valuables during the event, but your family’s safety is most important. If you need to evacuate, you'll head straight to the front door or your primary exit, so make sure your supplies are ready and waiting.

Pro Tip - if you don't have a great place to stash it by the exit, consider storing your earthquake bag in the trunk of your car. Odds are you'll be wherever your car is when the next major earthquake strikes.

Still don’t have an earthquake kit for your family? We get it - that’s why we exist! We’ve built the smartest, most efficient earthquake bags you can make or buy, built for people like you. Find your custom Earthquake Bag in under 5 minutes HERE!

4) Give Everyone Emergency Information

Emergency Contact Cards

If you're like most of us, you probably have an emergency contacts list attached to your fridge or on your home office bulletin board. Put a copy in your child's backpack, the glove box of your car, your wallet or purse, and in your earthquake bag. This way you'll always have the information handy even if you have to leave in a rush. If your little ones are separated from you, it helps if their rescuers know who they are, who they belong to, and how to get you back together.

Include an out-of-town emergency contacts. Let them know your status as soon as possible. Local phone lines may be jammed after an earthquake so it will be easier to reach someone outside of the disaster area.

Pro Tip - have 2 out-of-town contacts, just in case one isn't reachable. Communication is key!

5) Choose an Emergency Meeting Place

Evacuation Map

If an earthquake strikes during the day, you’ll likely be separated from your loved ones. You may be at work while children are at school. Discuss with your family where you plan to reunite in the event of a disaster. Your cell phones might not work during a disaster, so it's important to have a plan beforehand.

You may not want to think about an earthquake, but that doesn’t make the probability any different. We know that another major earthquake will strike here, so let’s be grown ups and take a few simple precautions for our families. It doesn’t have to take long, and it can make a huge difference in protecting you from injury and keeping you in contact with loved ones.

You’ll feel better knowing that you’ve done what you can to make your family safer. Need more earthquake prep info, or want someone to build out your family’s kit for you? Check out for earthquake prep tips and tricks, info on supplies and how to use them intelligently, and what to look for when preparing for your family.

Want to get an expert's take on earthquake prep? Check out our interview HERE

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  • Skyler Hallgren
Comments 20
  • Shirley Nelsen
    Shirley Nelsen

    Do not try to find valuable papers. All can be replaced. Or give copies to trusted person in another state

  • Monica

    Do you have this bag pack list in Spanish? Mexico City yesterday 7.6 heartwake and counting >500 small secondary. The bag is a great idea and also gives a sense of so much needed comfort and control.

  • Elizabeth

    This might seem odd, but the shoes under bed should be ugly. If you keep a nice pair of sneakers, you might be tempted to grab them when you’re running late. If you keep shoes you wouldn’t normally wear (do me it’s crocs), they’re more likely to be there when you need them.

  • Nancy

    While all of these a great suggestions, from experience, 3 more are critical. 1. Secure the items you want readily available to your bed because otherwise none of them will be where you left them. You might find them later, as much as 3 or 4 feet away, hidden under or inside the least likely places. 2. Install an automatic gas shut-off valve on the gas line to your house. It just may save your life as well as your home. 3. There will most likely be a shortage of potable water.
    Have a ready supply, sufficient for at least 3 days.

  • KAthleen cOhen
    KAthleen cOhen

    We have several gallon bottles filled with water, a tent, a change of clothes and a couple of blankets along with the other necessities in a garbage can with a tight fitting lid. We keep it outside our bedroom window. We also have a wind up radio which can power a cell phone.

  • Nan

    Trained CERT—- one backpack in car, one box at home with basics for a week. Hard soled shoes, spare glasses, light, hard hat Under the bed. Many are injured and killed After by stepping in glass, aftershock effects and falling fireplaces. Take CERT and ’Map Your Neighborhood for excellent training. Plan to take care of yourself for one to two weeks.

  • Sandie

    You should also keep a crow bar by your bed along with the shoes and flashlight in case exit doors or windows don’t open.

  • Debbie

    In 1994 EQ.
    Yes shoes by bed and in another place on safe way out. Put flashlight between mattress because your nightstand will move or fall over. Or hang on back of door. Never expect anything to be where you think it will be. I was in 1994 EQ. Always have clothing by bed. A strong EQ moves everything. Do not ever go in kitchen if dark or you can’t see in it. Don’t shut your bedroom doors because they become jammed and can’t open possibly..
    keep change and $$ bills in EQ bag. Hang flashlights on back of different doors. Bad EQ breaks windows be aware.. need clothes in bag.
    Remember if bad EQ you don’t think properly so yes prepare and Remember nothing will be where you think it will be. Things will be broken everywhere. Also bad EQ nd if’s pitch black because electricity off everywhere. Cellphones won’t work only a land line with old fashion dial.
    Do not ever lite a match!!! Try to have water you can get to. A bad EQ disrupts everything.
    1994 was 6.7 (Northridge) and it was horrible.
    Don’t assume anything is safe…be safe.

  • Diana

    I have a large extended family in the Bay Area, and we deemed a cousin in Nevada as our contact person. 89 Loma Prieta no one could contact the cousin to pass on info. His phone & power were out longer than ours. You may want to have 2 contacts just in case.

  • Susan
    Tip from someone who lived through the Northridge earthquake: tie your shoes to the bed, and put the flashlight inside the shoes. I had both of these things next to the bed, but the earthquake sent them flying all the way across the room and under a dresser and I didn’t find them for days.
  • CArol p
    CArol p

    Put your earthquake bag in the trunk of your car. When we were in the 1989 EQ, we were out. If you are home your car will be home too; if you’re out, you will still have what you need.

  • Christine

    Tip #6 Arrange with a person outside of your region, a friend or relative in another city or state, to be the one everyone contacts to say they’re alright. Trying to find each other in a disaster zone could be difficult.

  • Lori

    Is it not a good idea to keep your earthquake bag in your car rather than near an exit? I keep mine in the car so I will have it in case I’m not home during an earthquake, and if I am home, it’s in the driveway.

  • Candace Culp
    Candace Culp

    Also have a leash near the bed, one for each dog , so you can grab them fast to keep them from running away.

  • Nancy P
    Nancy P

    Thanks for the encouragement & making it simple., nsp

  • Barbara Callaway
    Barbara Callaway

    Very helpful information! Thank you.

  • Nancy

    During a major earthquake, nothing will be where you left it. In the 94 quake, my mother’s emergency shoes, flashlight, and portable radio all ended up 3 feet away – inside the closet wheree the door was closed and underneath clothes that fell off the clothes rod. Her emergency kit walked at least an equal distance and was buried under rubble. Solution: my brother created an easy access container that he screwed to the underside of her bed. In addition, a mere 2 weeks before that quake, my mother had an automatic gas shut-off valve installed. It quite literally saved her life.

  • The Earthquake Bag
    The Earthquake Bag

    Hi Bonnie- You can see all Earthquake Bag prices at the link below. We would recommend a 2 Person Complete Earthquake Bag for 3 or 7 days for the two adults and a Complete Emergency Bag for Dogs for your Golden Retriever!

  • Bonnie Torres
    Bonnie Torres

    How much are your Earthquake kits for 2 adults & a Golden Retriever?

  • Dianne

    A friend told me to have a wad of cash in your emer bag, all small bills. If the elec is out NO one will make change if there’s a sandwich line, or water line ,etc. Also, have a list of all passwords, banks, family, emails. etc. If we’re away from home and in a panic we’ll forget. Don’t write what the password is for, in case bag is stolen. During WW2 European women sewed treasurers inside linings of coats. If our bags are stolen, it might be a good idea to do this as well.

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