Earthquake Safety Tips

If you are a AAA policy holder and need to speak with a claims agent, please call 1-866-222-2378.

Earthquakes are one of the few natural disasters that threaten all 50 states. They can happen without warning at any time of the year. Earthquakes are caused by a shifting of the Earth’s plates. This shifting can occur slowly over time, or suddenly, creating a burst of energy that results in a rapid shaking of the Earth.

Earthquake preparation

It is impossible to predict when and where an earthquake can occur, so it is important that you and your family are prepared ahead of time. Here are some tips on what you can do to best prepare yourself and your property for an earthquake:

  • Take a comprehensive inventory of your possessions (ex. electronic devices, jewelry, contents of closets, drawers, antiques, furniture, etc.) using photos or videos to assist in insurance claims after an earthquake. A video tour of your house is also recommended in order to assist claims agents. This will give them a better understanding of the condition of your walls, flooring, light fixtures, etc.
  • Secure your space by fastening large movable items to the wall, bracing overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.
  • Store breakable items in low cabinets with latches.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations.
  • Hang heavy items such as mirrors, art, or pictures away from couches and beds.
  • Keep a flashlight and pair of shoes next to each family member’s bed in case an earthquake strikes in the middle of the night.
  • Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Locate the safe spots in each room so that you know where to go when an earthquake strikes.
  • Practice “stop, drop and hold on,” with family earthquake drills.
  • Develop a communication plan. If disaster strikes, who will be responsible for calling and checking on each family member/friend? What number is best to reach each person at?
  • Pick out a meeting spot with your family and plan to meet there if you are in different locations when disaster strikes, or if you get separated during a possible evacuation of the area.
  • Keep an emergency kit prepared ahead of time. Having the tools you need at hand will let you focus on the safety of your family during a time of crisis.
Earthquake damage

After an earthquake it is important to remain calm and to help injured or trapped persons after you have taken care of yourself. Below are safety tips to keep in mind when in the aftermath of an earthquake:

  • After an earthquake, the disaster may continue in the form of aftershocks, landslides or tsunamis. Stay on your guard and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.
  • Turn on your car radio and listen for advisories (most radio stations are prepared to broadcast emergency information).
  • Check yourself for injuries before helping others.
  • Help those who are injured or trapped. Remember to check on any neighbors who may require special assistance, and do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in danger of being further injured.
  • If available, put on long pants, a shirt with long sleeves, sturdy shoes and gloves to protect yourself against injury from broken objects.
  • Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard. The behavior of pets may change dramatically after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive.
  • Fires are the most common hazards after an earthquake; look for and extinguish any small fires that you see.
  • Watch for loose plaster, drywall, and ceilings that could fall.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleach, gasoline and other flammable liquids immediately.
  • Keep an eye out for fallen gas and power lines.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.
  • Inspect your utilities for leaks and damage.
  • Take pictures or video of the damage, both of the house and its contents, for insurance claims.

If you are a AAA policy holder and need to speak with a claims agent, please call 1-866-222-2378.