Many renters make the mistake of not including earthquake preparedness in their disaster plan, unless they live in certain cities known for getting them often. The fact is, earthquakes can happen anywhere, and you should prepare for it no matter where you live. The risk of personal injury and property damage is huge, and you can avoid both with a few supplies, a plan and a little know-how.
Unless you have a huge bank account to replace your items if they get damaged in an earthquake, you should buy renters insurance with earthquake coverage. It’s not included in most renters insurance policies, so you’ll have to buy a separate policy or rider. Ask your insurance agent about adding it to your coverage. Take photos or video of your belongings and keep receipts of major purchases, as your proof of ownership. File a claim if your things get damaged in an earthquake, and you’ll get money to replace what got damaged.
What to Do if One Happens
You won’t have time to evacuate, and trying to figure out what to that do in the moment is not an effective disaster plan. The stress you’ll experience at that moment is tremendous. Add to it the need to protect children, and you’ll wish you practiced beforehand. You can, by doing drills at least every three months. Make it fun for the entire family. Encourage your roommates to do drills with you.
Decide what rooms you’ll run to, and what sturdy table or furniture you’ll hide under. Set a timer and practice dropping to the floor and taking cover quickly. Reacting to an earthquake will be that much easier when you do drills.
Keep Objects from Flying
Much of the injury suffered in an apartment when there’s an earthquake is due to furniture and objects that roll around or fly in the air. It’s important to anchor furniture and appliances. You can buy braces or fasteners to anchor them to the walls or floors. Don’t stack heavy objects on high shelves, including floating or regular shelves. They will fall during an earthquake, and you might get hurt.
Have Supplies on Hand
A severe earthquake can shut down stores and gas stations. You need to have water, food and other supplies on hand while you wait for things to reopen, such as:
- Water in pouches, containers and a water filter
- Canned foods
- Pain killers, creams
- First aid kit
- Prescription medications
- Vitamins and supplements
- Entertainment items (books, board games and coloring books and activities)
- Lights (flashlights, lanterns, candles and oil lamps)
- AM/FM weather radio (hand-cranked, solar powered or battery operated)
Make a list of all the supplies you use on a daily basis. Cross the items that you won’t need in an emergency, and prioritize what you’ve got left on the list.
The key to developing a disaster plan for earthquakes is to think of all that you’ll need to stay in your apartment for 30 days, without leaving. Make a budget, and start building up your supplies.