Experts advise on prepping for ‘Big One’


SAN DIEGO – Next month kicks off National Preparedness Month, an annual campaign to help people get ready for the next “big one.”

Earthquakes are not rare events in California, as magnitude 5.5 or larger quakes occur in California about three to four times a year. California has more than 2,000 faults that can trigger a massive earthquake.

While we cannot predict one, residents can be ready for one. San Diego State University Geology professor Dr. Pat Abbott explained the best defense is to be prepared.

“You know you’re living in earthquake country, expect an earthquake so you don’t freak out,” said Abbott.

The first step is to prepare an “Earthquake Emergency Kit.” Kits can be purchased from stores like Costco, Wal-Mart or Target – they range between $70 – $200.

It is also possible to create one at home.

These are some of the main things experts suggest:

  1. Flashlight and extra batteries
  2. Portable-battery operated radio
  3. Extra clothes
  4. Durable shoes
  5. Tooth brush
  6. First aid kit
  7. Non-electric can opener
  8. Cash and credit cards
  9. Pen and pad
  10. Water and nonperishable food

“Lots of canned salmon, canned tuna, sardines; things that are good protein, good nourishing things that are going to survive an earthquake very readily,” said Abbott. “I think of it as being prepared similar to a camping trip.”

Experts recommend keeping the kit in your car, office or at home.

Additional safety tips:

  • If you are in bed, hold on and stay there.
  • If you are in a wheelchair, lock the wheels in a safe position, and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • If you are in the car, pull over, stop and set the car on park.
  • If you are outdoors, move to a clear area, avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards.
  • At home, ducking under a sturdy table or desk is key – not a doorway.

“That’s no longer a safe place – that’s just a whole in the wall, a weak place,” said Abbott. “As soon as the shacking stops, come out from under there and think like a first responder. Anyone in your household, anyone in the neighborhood, in the office … and go help them.”