As we're watching Texans try to put their lives back together in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we can't help but wonder how California might handle similar natural disasters.

September Is National Preparedness Month For Natural Disasters

On the West Coast, we're spared hurricanes, and for the most part, tornadoes, but we're not strangers to natural disasters. If you lived in the Bay Area in 1989, you are very familiar with the ravages that can be caused by earthquakes. And if you did survive the Loma Prieta quake, you are probably prepared for the next one, but what about those of us who aren't? What can we do to make our home more prepared?

Secure Your Home

Now is the time to examine your home's structure.
Common examples include structures not anchored to their foundations or having weak crawl space walls, unbraced pier-and-post foundations, or unreinforced masonry walls or foundations.

Source: FEMA

If you find any of these problems, you should address them as soon as possible with an engineer or building contractor.

Remember that flooding is common in the aftermath of large earthquakes. Even tsunamis are possible. When you examine your home, check for water-tightness and install French drains around problem areas.

You should also secure the interior of your home by making sure nothing can move, fall or break during an earthquake. Bolt your TV to the wall or  its stand. Secure pictures onto the walls.

Walk through each room of your home and make note of these items, paying particular attention to tall, heavy, or expensive objects such as bookcases, home electronics, appliances (including water heaters), and items hanging from walls or ceilings. Secure these items with flexible fasteners, such as nylon straps, or with closed hooks, or by relocating them away from beds and seating, to lower shelves, or to cabinets with latched doors. Ensure that plumbers have installed flexible connectors on all gas appliances.

Prepare An Earthquake Kit

FEMA recommends that each kit includes:
  • Two portable containers (like plastic tubs or duffel bags)
  • At least three days food and water (one gallon per person per day), please include your pets
  • Extra batteries
  • Battery chargers
  • Battery powered or hand crank radio and flashlights
  • First aid kit
  • Manual can opener
  • Sanitation needs like hand wipes and toilet paper
  • Trash bags and duct tape
  • Surgical masks
  • Gloves
  • Wrench or pliers
  • Three days worth of socks and underwear
  • List of important contacts
  • Cash for food and gasoline
Keep smaller kits in your cars.

Make A Plan

Before a disaster occurs, discuss a meeting place with your family in case you become separated. If your phone has internet, you can let friends and remote family know you are safe through social media, and often, through text, even if phone calls aren't getting through.

Inventory Your Home

No one wants to fight with their insurance company when it seems your world is literally crumbling down around you. Before a disaster happens, inventory the contents of your home. Take pictures. It will be much easier to make a claim if you have everything documented.

When A Disaster Happens

Unplug all your appliances and electronics. Turn off any heaters or air conditioners. Turn off the gas (if you aren't sure how, your local gas provider should be able to help) and the water.

Even without electricity, perishable foods will last longer in the freezer than in the refrigerator, but try to do it all at once. Our mothers were right when they said opening the fridge will let the cold air out.

Featured image via USGS/Flickr.