How to Not Die in an Earthquake: Six Essential Tips

Categories: Advice, Science
Speak no evil. hear No evil. Look no evil.jpg

Living in a grand, gorgeous city like San Francisco has its perks and its pitfalls. One such pitfall is the pit we might fall into during the next "Big One." If we're honest with ourselves, earthquakes freak us out a lot more than the Folsom Street Fair. That's why we do our damnedest not to think about it.

However, better prepared than seriously sorry, so recently we ventured out into the world wide web to collect the best information on how to prepare for, react to, and recover from an earthquake.

1. Take your sex mirrors off the ceiling
Secure your home and furniture by ensuring that tall, heavy, and sharp items are bolted or reinforced to the wall. Heavy and breakable items, like mirrors, hanging over your bed can and will fall during an earthquake. There are other ways to see all the good angles without setting yourself up to be chop suey post-quake, not to mention the seven years of bad luck.

2. Revert to 1980s technology
Hard to believe, but in the worst case scenario, Siri might not be so helpful. Before you scream "blasphemy!" hear us out. Earthquakes can damage wireless towers and halt mobile services, not to mention cause mobile traffic jams which take place after most emergencies and make phone calls difficult to connect. Make sure you have a plan in place for communication -- whether that's a HAM or CB radio, e-mail ,or carrier pigeons. If you don't (for some strange reason) these folks can help: Emergency Communication Options.

In addition, get a battery-operated or hand-crank AM/FM radio (They make those?! They do!) to tune in for updates and reports about emergency services.

3. Consider a survival kit
There are websites galore with packages and kits and stockpiles of emergency supplies. Take for instance,, which provides home, school, and car emergency survival kits, including a two-person Deluxe Kit. Romantic! If you're more of a do-it-yourself-er (freaking hipster) here's a quick list of things to include:

  • first aid kit
  • canned food
  • flashlights
  • batteries
  • three gallons of water per person (& pet!)
  • dust masks
  • goggles
  • working, battery-operated radio
burning man.jpg
Josh "CuriousJosh" Reiss
So basically prepare for Burning Man

4. Get out of the way
Fun fact! The only thing we thought we knew about earthquake safety was wrong! Standing in doorways during an earthquake does nothing to protect you -- door frames are actually no stronger than any other part of your house. The only thing it does do, especially if you are in a public place, is put you at risk for getting trampled as people try to exit the building. The Red Cross recommends that you remember to "Drop, Cover, and Hang On!"

5. Stop shopping at Ikea
The "Hang On" part of the catchy safety chant refers to finding a sturdy piece of furniture to get underneath and hang on to. The Red Cross says that this is the best protection during an earthquake to protect you from falling objects. The cappuccino colored balsa wood table you built in 20 minutes will not cut it.

6. Don't believe the hype
Educate yo'self, foo! Knowing your shit when it comes to emergencies can save your life and others. For example, this site dispels many myths surrounding earthquakes, including the one about dogs detecting early seismic activity. The more you know, the more you grow ... able to not die during an earthquake.

Bonus tip! What about Fido?

dog 2.jpg
Hanna Quevado
The ASPCA recommends the following for pet owners to prepare for an earthquake:
  • Get a rescue alert sticker for your home that will alert emergency responders to your pet's presence.
  • Secure a safe area where you could, if absolutely necessary, leave your pet for a time. Whether this is in the care of a friend or family neighbor or at a local kennel, ensure that you have a place for your pet to go in case you've got to spend some time away.
  • Have a "go bag" prepared for your pet with food, supplies, and shelter.
  • Have your pet micro-chipped and tagged in case fences/walls collapse and your pet escapes during an earthquake.

More advice for pet owners can be found at ASPCA Disaster Preparedness.

There! Now that you've prepared for the worst, let's all go back to optimistically ignoring that we live on a major fault line.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

My Voice Nation Help

Now Trending

From the Vault


San Francisco Event Tickets
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.