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County News Service

August 25, 2014 (San Diego)—The middle-of-the-night 6.0 earthquake in Napa resulted in hundreds of injuries and should serve as a reminder to San Diegans that there is a lot that can be done to get ready for a major earthquake. Being prepared can make all the difference for the safety and survival of you and your family in a major disaster.

You can learn what to do before, during and after an earthquake, by visiting Download a free template for a family disaster plan and create a home emergency kit.

Being informed is also key in a disaster and the County’s free SD Emergency mobile app has interactive features to help you prepare--but its greatest use may be during a disaster when it shows up-to-date open shelters, health warnings and other information. The free app is available from the Apple Store and Google Play.

You can also register at to learn more about preparedness and participate in the world’s largest earthquake drill on October 16th at 10:16 a.m.  Last year, almost 25 million people practiced “drop, cover and hold on,” which is considered the safest way to survive a quake.

So what should you do during and after a major quake?

If a strong earthquake occurs, water and gas lines could be damaged. Phones and electricity could be out. Roads could be unsafe--buckled or blocked by debris. If buildings are damaged, emergency officials would be tied up with priority calls.  That’s when you will need to rely on your emergency preparedness stores.

Gather items for a home, work and car emergency kit to last at least three days. Items should be stored in a ready-to-grab waterproof bag or container, such as a plastic tub. Pre-packaged emergency kits are available at some big box stores or at the American Red Cross, but residents can also put their own kits together by buying items or gathering items from home. Include the following:

·         Water – at least one gallon per person per day

·         Non-perishable food

·         First aid kit

·         Whistle

·         Radio

·         Flashlight

·         Batteries  

Personalize your kits for your family by considering the dietary needs of infants, pets and other family members. If anyone in your family requires medication, keep an extra week’s supply in your kits. Keep a copy of important documents such as insurance policies, identification, and bank records in case you have to evacuate quickly. You can scan and store them online or on a thumb drive. Do the same with family photographs.

Plan ahead. A disaster could happen while parents are at work and children at school – or in the middle of the night as happened in Napa. If you are away from your family, you cannot count on phone lines because they can quickly get overloaded. So it’s important to have a Family Disaster Plan that includes several meeting places and an out-of-state emergency contact who family members can call or text message. Text messaging is often a more successful way to communicate during a disaster.

Create a complete Family Disaster Plan (PDF) with important phone numbers and information you may need in an emergency. The plan templates are available in English, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. If you have a plan, review it, make sure it is still up-to-date, and practice it.

Stay informed. During an emergency, you will want official information. The County of San Diego emergency website is and will be updated with news including road closures and shelters. If you prefer a mobile version, download the County’s free mobile app.

Residents can also sign up to get free emergency alerts by cell phone during a disaster. Register your phone for AlertSanDiego and sign up for free ViejasWildfire&EmergencyAlerts at

If the power is out, you can use your battery-powered radio to get updates. Residents can call 2-1-1 to get information about emergency updates or services.The County of San Diego also will also send out information on Twitter via the San Diego County and Ready San Diego accounts.

The family disaster plan includes these tips and more for earthquakes:

Before a quake strikes:

·         Check home for potential hazards – things that can topple over and cause injury.

·         Secure televisions, bookshelves and other heavy furniture to the wall.

·         Use special hooks to secure photos and art to walls.

·         Plan and rehearse where you and your family can seek cover in each room of your home.

During an earthquake:

·         Drop, Cover and Hold On. Get down low to avoid falling, find a sturdy desk or table to seek cover under and hold onto it while covering your head with your other arm.

·         If there are no tables, find an interior wall that is not near any heavy furniture or near glass picture frames, windows or under light fixtures, scoot down and cover your head.

·         If outside, find an open area away from buildings, trees, or overhead utility wires, sit down and cover your head.

After the quake:

·         Check your home for potential hazards.

·         If you smell gas, turn it off at the valve.


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