Natural Disasters


Andrew Uribe, Staff Writer

Are you prepared? Will be okay?


Whether or not a natural disaster is predictable, we must all be prepared for one. Here in California, our strongest dangers are likely to be earthquakes and home fires.

If you are not prepared, work with your family to make a disaster plan. You must make the action. Your plan can save the lives of you and your family.

The American Red Cross association have information on how to be prepared and anyone may look to them for further preparation.


Are you at worse risk than others?


  • ‘Unattached’ homes (such as mobile homes) are in greater danger of earthquake-related situations.
  • Structures built on landfills and other unstable soils are in greater danger in earthquake-related situations.


What can you do beforehand to be better prepared, without changing anything?

  • In each room, decide on what stable furniture items would be best to secure oneself in. The doorway is not secure, contrary to popular belief. Remain away from windows or anything that may fall on you during the earthquake.
  • Practice dropping, covering, and holding on in your safe places. If a room does not have one, sit next to an interior wall and practice covering your neck and head with your arms.
  • In case of an earthquake in the night, keep sturdy shoes and a flashlight beside everyone’s bed.
  • Keep a wrench handy and learn how to shut off your home’s gas valves.

What should you change within your home in advance?

  • Bolt water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
  • Bolt bookcases and other tall furniture to wall studs.
  • Install latches/bolts on cabinets.
  • Hang heavy items like pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and other areas where people tend to relax.

What do you do when the earthquake begins? Inside.

  • Remain in bed if you are there all ready. Curl up and cover your head with a pillow.
  • Drop, cover, and hold on. Remain as still as possible.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and it is safe to exit. Do not use any elevators in case of aftershocks or power outages.
  • Know that fire alarms/sprinklers will sometimes go off during an earthquake even if there is no fire.
  • Do not panic.

What do you do when the earthquake begins? Outside.

  • Find a clear spot away from trees, lightposts, powerlines, street lights, etc. Drop to the ground.
  • If in a vehicle, keep your seatbelt fastened, pull over to a clear spot, and wait.
  • If a power line falls on your vehicle, wait for assistance. Do not get out.
  • Be alert for landslides, falling rocks, debris, and the like.

How do I recover from an earthquake?

  • Be aware and prepared for aftershocks, tsunamis (if you are near the ocean), landslides and power outages.
  • Be aware aftershocks can go on even months after the initial shaking. For each, you must still drop, cover, and hold on.
  • Check yourself for injuries before helping others.
  • Quickly examine any damage to your home so that everyone is aware of where to go, safely.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires.
  • Listen to the radio for emergency updates.
  • Clean up dangerous spills like bleach.
  • Be careful when opening closets and cabinets
  • Always help people who require special assistance such as the elderly, children, babies, the disabled, etc.
  • Stay out of and away from damaged areas.
  • Keep pets and other animals under control.

Home fire.

Safety tips.


  • Get out, stay out, and call for help.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly.
  • Talk with all household members about a fire escape plan and back-up plans twice a year.


Home fire prevention tips.

  • Keep flammable objects at least three feet away from hot objects like heaters, stoves, etc.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children, and teach them about the dangers.
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Teach all household members what to do when they hear a smoke alarm.
  • Be aware of the differences between smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. They are not interchangeable. Neither should ever be disabled, and smoke alarms should be replaced at least every ten years.
  • Practice your fire escape plan. Ensure everyone also knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Teach every household member how to stop, drop, and roll.
  • When cooking, always leave the stove off when you are going elsewhere even for a brief period.


Fire escape plan tips.

  • Never use doors that are warm to the touch.
  • Crawl low, especially under smoke.
  • Meet outside to call for help, and do not stray too close even when outside.


Be safe. After any disaster, no matter who we are, it is always nice to see the safety of others—their survival. Your preparation should be optimal.

There is more information given by the American Red Cross association, including that for other disasters like floods and our ongoing drought, not to mention, information for disasters outside of California if you would like to share with people you know who could be in danger, or if you are ever going to visit.