SIMPLE STEPS YOU can take right away to prepare for an earthquake:

● Strap your hot water heater to a wall. Straps made for this are widely available and easy to install.

● Also secure other large items that could topple and cause injury, such as refrigerators, dressers, bureaus, bookcases, shelves or televisions. Many of these items come with brackets, but you’ll need straps to secure them to walls.

● Secure small items and pictures on the wall. Museum putty can be used to help keep pictures hanging in place.

● Speaking of pictures on the wall: To hang, use two wires and one nail per picture/painting. One wire on the picture, from one corner to the other. Wrap the second wire around the nail AND the first wire. When the shaking starts, pictures will jump off their nails but will not fall to the ground and potentially cause more broken glass.

● If something heavy is hanging above your bed, move it. And while you’re at it, look around for other potentially injurious or deadly falling objects that can be moved lower.


● Keep things around that might come in handy, such as flashlights and batteries, basic first aid supplies, medications, toiletries and iodine for purifying water. Better yet, store water. And food, too. It should be canned food, or food that will keep for a long time. And it should be food that you actually like, and will eat. Storing food for pets is a good idea, too. Don’t forget medicines, other things you use on a daily basis and cash (if the power is out, credit cards and ATMs won’t work).

● Keep a pair of hard-soled, closed-toe shoes or boots under the bed, along with socks and a flashlight, to avoid a badly cut foot because of broken glass or fallen objects. Injured feet are common after a disaster. Also keep a jacket nearby.

● Have a supply of extra batteries, phone chargers and a battery-operated radio.

● If your house isn’t bolted to its foundation, put the bolts in. If you rent, ask your landlord to do it.

● If you don’t have space to store supplies, gather them with neighbors or friends and store in a central location that can be reached easily. Items can be gathered over time. Red Cross has a good list, broken down by weeks so you can purchase items gradually.

● Be ready to get creative. It’s possible there will be no running water. A bucket, garbage bag, kitty litter and a Styrofoam pool noodle can provide a makeshift toilet seat. Kitty litter is great for many purposes, including helping vehicles stuck in mud or ice, and for absorbing liquid.


There’s more you can do. Here are some resources:

City of Seattle, Emergency Management:

King County, Emergency Management: The site includes King County’s “Disaster Danny” videos at

● Also, King County, Emergency Management, in partnership with Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management and the University of Montana, maintains a website at

● King County, Emergency Management advises people to be “2 weeks ready” with supplies. Another site,, focuses on preparedness for the public.

● King County encourages people/schools/businesses to participate in the yearly Great Shakeout drill — this year it will be on Oct. 21 at 10:21 a.m. People can take this time to “drop, cover and hold on” and practice their plans on what they would do if a real earthquake hit. More information at

AlertSeattle: Sign up for emergency alerts at

Alert King County: Emergency notification is available at

ShakeAlert: An earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States is at

For more resources, visit