How to prepare for an
earthquake, tsunami, tornado and hurricane
Knowing what to do when a natural disaster strikes can be
a matter of life or death. Being prepared can not only help ensure the safety
of your loved ones, it can reduce the chaos caused by an emergency situation.
We've compiled information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and the American Red Cross to help you prepare for four natural
disasters: earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes.
Surviving an earthquake and reducing its
health impact requires preparation, planning, and practice. Far in advance, you
can gather emergency supplies, identify and reduce possible hazards in your
home, and practice what to do during and after an earthquake. Learning what
actions to take can help you and your family to remain safe and healthy in the
event of an earthquake.
- Take a few minutes with your family to discuss a
home evacuation plan.
Sketch a floor plan of your home, plan a second way to exit from each room or
area and indicate the location of your family's emergency outdoor meeting
- Gather and store important documents,
such as birth certificates, social security cards, ownership certificates and
insurance policies, in a fire-proof safe.
- If an earthquake strikes, try to take cover under a heavy desk or table. It can provide you with air space if the building
collapses. If you get under a table and it moves, try to move with it.
- Inner walls or doorframes are the least likely to
collapse and may also shield against falling objects. If other cover is
not available, go to an inner corner or doorway, away from windows or glass
Learn more about what to do in the event of an earthquake.
A tsunami can strike suddenly, violently and without
warning. "Tsunami" comes from the Japanese words for harbor ("tsu") and wave ("nami"). Since a tsunami
consists of a series of waves, the danger can last for many
hours.Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can
reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life or harm to the environment.
The following information on tsunami preparedness is
provided courtesy of the American Red Cross.
- Be aware
of the signs of a tsunami:
- A strong
earthquake lasting 20 seconds or more near the coast.
noticeable rapid rise or fall in coastal waters.
- Know the best source of information:
- The International Tsunami Warning System monitors
ocean waves after any Pacific earthquake with a magnitude greater than 6.5. If
waves are detected, warnings are issued to local authorities who can order the
evacuation of low-lying areas if necessary. The National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service operates two
tsunami warning centers:
- The West
Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WC/ATWC) in Palmer, Alaska serves Alaska, Washington, Oregon,
California, the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, Puerto Rico, the U.S.
Virgin Islands and Canada.
Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Ewa Beach, Hawaii serves Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific
territories, and as an international warning center for the Pacific and Indian
oceans and the Caribbean Sea.
- Find out if your home, school, workplace or other
frequently visited locations are in tsunami hazard areas. Know the height of
above sea level and the distance of your street from the
coast or other high-risk waters. Evacuation orders may be based on these
evacuation routes from your home, school, workplace and other places you
could be where tsunamis present a risk. If possible, pick areas 100 feet
(30 meters) above sea level or go as far as 2 miles (3 kilometers) inland,
away from the coastline. If you cannot get this high or far, go as high or
far as you can.
your evacuation routes.
- If you are in a coastal area and feel an earthquake
that lasts 20 seconds or longer:
cover and hold on. You should first protect yourself from the earthquake.
- When the
shaking stops, gather members of your household and move quickly to higher
ground away from the coast. A tsunami may be coming within minutes.
downed power lines and stay away from buildings and bridges from which heavy
objects might fall during an aftershock.
 Information provided courtesy of the National
Learn more about what to do in the event of a tsunami.
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