This blog post is one in a series leading up to the Great Utah ShakeOut. Click here for more information or here to register for the ShakeOut.


Yesterday, we covered pretty thoroughly the startling truth: An earthquake is going to happen in Utah, and soon. For those of you who are not in Utah, this information is still important! There are active faults all over the country. And many of these principles can apply to other disasters, not just earthquakes. Before we all run off in a panic, I want to really focus on what you and I can do to get ready for such a catastrophic event. Following these simple steps will help you feel confident that you and your family will make it out all right if the worst should happen.

Identify Potential Hazards

When an earthquake hits, your house/apartment is going to start shaking. And depending on how violent the earthquake is, things are going to start falling off of walls and getting knocked over. The first thing you should do is look around for things that are not secured and might fall during a quake.

Look for and do the following as you are surveying your house:


While big furniture and lots of collectibles and keepsakes can turn a house into a home, they can turn a home into a killing field in an earthquake if not properly secured.

  • Move large, top- heavy furniture (like book cases) away from beds and places where people sit.

  • Use earthquake safety straps to secure shelves, book cases, wardrobes and other heavy pieces to your walls.

  • Move heavy and framed art away from beds and areas where people sit. Used closed hooks (available at most hardware stores) to secure heavy, framed art to the walls.

  • Collectibles, small nick-nacks and tchotchkes may look great on the shelf, but can cause real damage to people during an earthquake. Make sure small collectibles are secured to their shelves using removable earthquake putty, museum wax or earthquake gel(available at most hardware stores).

Water and Gas Pipes:

All piping can break in an earthquake. A broken water pipe can turn just some minor damage into a total loss. When gas lines break, houses can catch fire or explode if they are not seen to quickly.

  • Evaluate and fix any old or rusted pipes in your home. If you're not the handy type, hire a plumber to do this.

  • Exchange rigid connections to hot water heaters, stoves, dryers, and other gas appliances with flexible (or corrugated) connections. This would be another great job for the plumber.

  • Know where the main shut off for your gas and water is, and keep a wrench right next to it at all times. (I should note that you should NOT try practicing turning off your gas. Only turn it off in a real emergency, since to get it back on, you will have to pay someone from the utilities company to come to your house and do it for you).

  • Secure your water heater to the wall using metal straps and lag screws (your local hardware store will have these).

Safe and Secure


Unsecured cabinets mean all of that china from your Aunt Mabel will just come falling on your head when an earthquake strikes.

  • Secure all over-head cabinets. Child-proofing latches work great for this.
  • Secure the refrigerator to the wall using earthquake appliance straps.

Other things to consider

Do not secure flammable or toxic chemicals in the garage, or somewhere that they could spill in an earthquake.

  • Don't store heavy things above your cars in the garage, and if you do, make sure they are latched and secured. You may need your car to evacuate.
  • Home electronics like TVs, computers of stereo systems should be strapped down using nylon straps and buckles so they can easily be removed and relocated.

We can never know exactly when an earthquake will strike. All of the things listed above are small, simple fixes to make your home safer and more secure should the worst happen.

Check back tomorrow to learn about creating a plan for an earthquake.

How secure is your home now? Any of these ideas apply to your situation? Sound off in the comments.


Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country: Your Handbook for Earthquakes in UtahDeveloped by the Utah Seismic Safety Comission in cooperation with the US Geological Survey.



Ms Wright

Ms Wright

You never know where life is going to take you so it is great to be informed about earthquakes no matter what state you live on. Thanks!

Susan and Scott

Susan and Scott

Great ideas. I didn't think about some of these things and so it's a great reminder of what to so

Susan Woods

Susan Woods

There are so many things you just don't think about in getting prepared. Thank you for this!



I needed this reminder about earthquake safety.Thank you.



Thank you for all that you do! I have always made sure to have certain things on hand, but I'm learning that I have a long way to go before I can consider myself prepared. Can't wait to learn more through your blog and site (especially since we have 2 nuclear plants within 40 miles of us)!



Thanks so much for the blogs. I can't tell you how helpful they've been. I live in the part of Alabama hit last year by tornados and have become aware of just how poorly we were prepared. I sure am hoping this year is different. But if it's not. At least I have my family better prepared!



You should also identify safe places in your house where you can quickly go during an earthquake where nothing is likely to fall on you and teach/train your children.

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