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Take these steps to minimize earthquake damage


October 16, 2013
The ability to survive and then recover from a major earthquake will depend on the amount of planning everyone does in advance.

Everyone should organize disaster supplies and take action towards minimizing your financial hardship. A summary of these steps is below. "Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills," happening worldwide on Oct. 17 at 10:17 a.m., provide an opportunity to follow the Seven Steps.

More than 9.3 million Californians (22 million people worldwide) have already registered at www.shakeout.org to practice the annual "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" drill and to improve their preparedness.

Organize disaster supplies in a few convenient locations — your home, car, school and at work. Routes away from home may be blocked, and help may not get to you for a while. Think about what your family will need if you have to shelter at home for up to three weeks, possibly without water or electricity.

Keep an emergency backpack near the door to "grab-and-go" in case you can't stay in your home. This is especially important if you live or work in a tsunami zone. Place copies of important documents/cash in a plastic bag in the backpack. Include medication and extra glasses that anyone in your family may need. Other items: water, snacks, baby formula, cell phone chargers, etc.

Store emergency supplies in a dry area at home including food and water for your family and pets, clothing, blankets, work gloves, tools, personal care items and anything you will need on a daily basis.

Store water for everyone in your family. The recommended amount is one gallon per person or pet per day for at least three days and ideally up to two weeks (even longer if you live in desert or remote areas).

Create a kit for your pets that includes dry pet food and any medications they might need. Keep a photo of you with your pet in the kit in case your pet gets lost. Consider implanting an ID chip so that your pet can be linked back to you even if you are separated.

Buy a NOAA weather radio with the Public Alert feature.

For more about how to organize disaster supplies, go to earthquakecountry.org/step3.

Earthquakes may last only seconds but they can shake up our lives for weeks and months to come. You can minimize your financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your home or building, and considering earthquake insurance. You may need to leave your house quickly after an earthquake, fire, or other emergency. Consider what documents you will need if you are away from home for an extended time, such as copies of identification and insurance cards, lists of emergency contact numbers, and photos of belongings in your home (for filing insurance claims).

Put all of these important documents in a sealed plastic bag, then place it into your "grab-and-go" bag. You should improve the ability of your home or other building to withstand earthquake shaking, especially if you live in a region with significant earthquake risk.

Common issues include unbolted foundations, unbraced cripple walls, "soft" first stories, and unreinforced masonry. If you are a renter, encourage your landlord to make needed updates or repairs.

Renters and homeowners can protect themselves with earthquake insurance and flood insurance if you live in an endangered area.

Without earthquake insurance, you will be responsible for all costs to repair or rebuild your home and replace your personal property. Residential policies do not cover include earthquake damage.

For more information, contact your insurance agent or go to earthquakeauthority.com.

If you live in a tsunami zone, consider flood insurance. Homeowner's policies do not cover damage caused by flood or tsunami.

For more about how to minimize financial hardship, go to earthquakecountry.org/step4.

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