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Prepared as a Public Service
659 Huntington Avenue
San Bruno, California 94066
Table of Contents


Planning: Home, Family, Work, School
Making Sure Your Home Is Safe
Family Plan
Emergency Supplies
Fire Control, Water, Food and Cooking Supplies, Sanitation, Shelter, Clothing, Car,
Planning for the Disabled
Town and City Planning


Survival Response


Immediately after the Quake
The Post-Quake Emergency Period

Appendix I. Facts about Earthquakes

Earthquake Damage
Magnitude and Intensity: The Richter and Modified Mercalli Scales
Lessons of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Appendix II. Planning for the Economic Consequences of a Big Quake

Appendix III. Further Information on Earthquakes and Preparedness


Waiting For The Big One
At 5:04 p.m. on October 17, 1989, while 62,000 spectators assembled in San Francisco's Candlestick Park for the
World Series, the west side of the San Andreas Fault lurched northward and upward, violently shaking northern
California for about 15 seconds. Within minutes, news of the quake had spread around the world. Suddenly, Bay
Area residents faced much bigger problems than choosing between the Giants and the A's.
The Cypress Street section of Interstate 880 in Oakland collapsed. Downtown Santa Cruz was ravaged. An upper
roadway span of the Bay Bridge fell. Many houses and apartment buildings in the Marina District of San Francisco
were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. As this brochure goes to press, only two weeks after the quake, the death
toll is estimated at 63 (plus 12 missing), major and minor injuries at more than 4,000, and property damage in the
billions of dollars. Some 13,000 people were displaced from their dwellings by quake damage.
Bad as it was, this was not quite the great earthquake that Californians have long feared. For one thing, its
epicenter was just west of Loma Prieta Mountain, some 10 miles northeast of Santa Cruz and 60 miles south of San
Francisco. If the epicenter had been closer to the major urban areas, casualties and damage would have been
considerably higher.
For another, the Loma Prieta Earthquake (as it is now being called by seismologists) rated around 7.0 on the Richter
scale--a major but not a great earthquake. In contrast, the great San Francisco quake of 1906 is thought to have been
about 8.3. The disastrous Mexico City quake of 1985 was measured at 8.1, and the Alaskan quake of 1984
registered 8.6.
On the Richter scale, every unit increase represents more than a thirtyfold increase in energy released. For example,
an 8.0 quake is more than 30 times more powerful than a 7.0. (For more on the Richter scale, see Appendix I.)
With this in mind, and having lived through the 1989 quake, we can begin to imagine what a great earthquake might
be like. The longer and stronger shaking would multiply the destruction many times over.* In urban areas
thousands would die and tens of thousands would be seriously injured. Medical facilities, many of which would
suffer damage themselves, would be overwhelmed.
A great earthquake would do what the 1989 quake did, only more so. It would interrupt communications and
transportation for days, even weeks. It would break electric, gas, water, sewer, and telephone lines, topple radio and
TV towers, weaken or bring down bridges and overpasses, and block roadways. Airports would be out of
commission for days. For a while, foot and bicycle would probably be the only reliable means of transportation.
With communications disrupted and personnel scattered, authorities would be swamped by requests for emergency
assistance. Federal, state, and local governments would probably be unable to help people with basic survival for
some time.** In the meantime, you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors would be on your own.
*Experts have estimated that a great earthquake on the San Andreas fault in the San Francisco area would cause
3,000 to 11,000 deaths, 12,000 to 44,000 injuries, and $20 billion or more in damage. Casualties and damage
would be less, though still extensive, in case of a great quake on the Hayward fault in the East Bay. Another
estimate indicates that a great quake in southern California would kill from 3,000 to 14,000 people, injure 12,000 to
55,000 severely enough to require hospitalization, and cause $20 billion in damage.
**Even moderate shakes can cause extensive damage. Recent examples in California include the 1983 Coalinga
quake (Richter 6.7) and two in the Los Angeles area: the San Fernando Valley quake of 1971 (6.4) and the Whittier
quake of 1987 (5.9). The Whittier quake killed seven people, injured more that 100, damaged 10,000 buildings, and
caused over $200 million in losses. A great 8.0 quake would be about 1,000 times more powerful than the Whittier
quake and around 175 times as strong as the 1971 San Fernando quake.

What Can You Do?
Everyone hopes that a great earthquake won't strike. However, the question is not really whether it will happen, but
when. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there is a 50-50 chance that a great quake will strike California in
the next 30 years. Quakes are most likely in the known active seismic areas, but they occasionally occur in areas
thought to be inactive. Previously unknown faults are still being discovered.
If a great quake strikes, it will be less disastrous if you are prepared. This booklet will help you plan what to do in
advance and teach you how to react if it happens.
Before The Quake
Planning: Home, Family, Work, School
We need to make the places where we spend most of out lives---houses, apartments, workplaces, and schools---as
safe as possible before the earthquake.
This brochure teaches you how to improve quake safety at home. You'll also find lists of essential supplies to store
for the emergency and information on how some cities, towns, and neighborhoods have organized to cope with the
Many of these suggestions about home safety, a family plan, and other topics can be adapted for schools,
workplaces, businesses, and other organizations.
A family plan is important. If the quake comes on a weekday while your family is scattered, how will you reunite,
or at least get in touch with each other? (Remember, transportation systems and telephone lines may be out of
Economic considerations also require forethought. How will you deal with the temporary disruption of the banking
system and of normal work? Private citizens, professionals, business people, and employees should all plan for the
emergency. (See Appendix II for tips on these matters, and Appendix III on earthquake insurance.)
Making Sure Your Home Is Safe
Your most important task: to make your home or apartment as safe as possible.
Site and Structure
Carry out a structural analysis of your home or apartment, consulting experts if necessary, and make necessary
repairs or alterations. Survey the building's exterior and grounds for hazards.
Conduct a room-by-room examination of the interior for non-structural hazards, to determine what furniture or
objects might fall or break. Then take corrective action.
Collect and store emergency supplies for home, car, workplace.
Family Plan
Draw up a Family Plan for what to do if the quake occurs while some or all of you are away from home: how to get
in touch with each other and reunite, and what to do if you can't get in touch or return to your home. Practice
emergency drills. (See the last page of this brochure for a Family Plan Checklist.)

Site and Structure
The single most important thing you can do to prepare for an earthquake is to make sure your home is
structurally sound and well sited.
Whether your home is old, new, or yet to be built, don't hesitate to get the expert help of structural and soil
engineers. Look under "Engineers" in the Yellow Pages, contact a local engineering society, or ask your city
building department how to obtain a list of qualified engineers. (See box.)
Building industry officials recommend that before you hire a contractor, you obtain the contractor's state license
number and check with the stat Contractors Licensing Board in Sacramento at (916) 366-5153 to be sure the
contractor is in good standing.
Local contractors' associations also provide information on licensed contractors who are available to do earthquake
preparedness work on homes.
Here is a list of these associations in the Bay Area:
San Francisco Builder's Exchange: (415) 282-8220
Marin County Builder's Exchange: (415) 456-3233
Alameda Assn. General Contactors: (415) 483-1010
Contra Costa Builder's Exchange: (415) 685-8630
Peninsula Builder's Exchange: (415) 591-4486
Santa Clara Builder's Exchange: (408) 727-4000
Santa Cruz Builder's Exchange: (408) 476-3400
Structural rehabilitation of an older house may cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars. But that is
only a fraction of the house's value, and it could be the best investment you ever make. Don't count on insurance to
take care of all your problems. (See Appendix III.)
Is your home on a good site?
Is it on stable soil or rock? Is it out of the path of quake-induced floods from a collapsing dam or a tsunami (seismic
tidal wave)? Is it clear of hazards like adjacent buildings, retaining walls, utility lines and towers, and water tanks?
Or is it on unstable, potentially dangerous site? Near a fault? On a hillside prone to landslides? On a creek bottom,
an old flood plain, or landfill? In such locations, differential settlement of loose soils may cause structural damage
in a quake. Saturated loose sands and silts may liquefy during a long, severe shake.
True, the notion of a good site is relative. Four of five Californians live within the state's most active seismic areas.
But some sites are clearly better than others. A house firmly anchored on bedrock will probably withstand a quake
much better than one on unstable landfill or alluvial soil.
What is your home's structure?
Buildings of unreinforced masonry, brick, or concrete fare poorly even in moderate quakes. If well braced and
fixed on good foundations, wood-frame houses perform better than most other types. They are relatively
lightweight and flexible and tend to give with the shocks and lateral stress. Most split-level houses and houses on
stilts are more susceptible to structural damage than those which rest securely on a good, level foundation.
No one can guarantee how well a house will stand up to a big quake. But it will have a much better chance of
surviving more or less intact if its basic parts---foundation, walls, floors, roof, and ceilings---are fastened
together well.
Is your foundation in good repair?
If your foundation collapses during a quake, your house may be extensively damaged--perhaps beyond repair.
Check visible parts of your house’s concrete foundation or footings for cracks. Consult an expert about necessary
Houses with brick foundations risk severe damage even in moderate quakes. Brick foundations should be capped
with reinforced concrete or, much better, entirely replaced by new concrete foundations--a major job, but far less
expensive than repairing or rebuilding a house whose foundation collapses.

Bolting house to its foundation.
Even a good foundation won’t help if the
house falls off it during a quake. Older
building codes didn’t require a house to be
tied to its foundation, so many simply rest
on their foundations and slide off even in
moderate quakes, usually with extensive
damage. The house is often temporarily
uninhabitable, and moving it back onto its
foundation and making the necessary repairs
can be very costly.
Bolting your house to its foundation may
be the most important single step in
protecting it against earthquake damage.

You may do it yourself or hire specialists. It

may cost from several hundred to several
thousand dollars, depending on the type of
work and the accessibility of the foundation.
But compared to the value of your home, the cost will be very small.
Lateral bracing is crucial.
A well-braced house will sway as a single unit instead of shaking or twisting apart. Exterior walls and roofs are
usually braced with plywood sheathing nailed to the inside or outside of the wall studs and rafters. Cripple (short)
walls in the basement also require lateral bracing with plywood sheathing, angled studs, or metal straps.
Connections: To insure that the house moves as a unit, strengthen ties between walls, floors, and roof. Bolt or nail
prefabricated metal connectors to studs, joists, beams, and rafters. Pay especial attention to connections between the
main building and any additions.
Long Spans: Strong headers and studs should adequately frame and support wide openings in the walls such as
picture windows and French doors. Be sure that alterations to your home, like removing walls or installing larger
windows, meet accepted standards. Weakly-framed spans can collapse in a strong quake. Garage door openings are
especially susceptible to failure. (Keeping the garage door closed can help a bit to stiffen the span.)
Mobile homes often suffer quake damage when they fall off their supports. Leave the wheels on the coach so that it
cannot fall far, or install structural bracing. Consult your mobile home owners’ association or dealer or look in the
Yellow Pages. One more tip: make sure the awing is well supported and securely fastened to the coach.
Is the exterior of your home safe in case of an earthquake?
Roofs: Lightweight roofs with lateral bracing and good connections are best. Composition shingles are light and
add fire protection. Tile roofs are heavier, and broken tiles falling off the roof are a hazard. If your house has a tile
roof, make sure that the underlying structure can support the weight and that the tiles are unbroken and fastened
securely to it.
Chimneys: Brick chimneys fail even in moderate quakes, posing a hazard to anyone or anything below, and
sometimes damaging the roof. If there happens to be a fire in the fireplace and the bricks are hot when the chimney
collapses, the house could catch fire.
Bracing or strapping the chimney may be necessary, especially if it is on an exterior wall and/or if it extends more
than a few feet above the roof. If the roof around the chimney doesn't have solid plywood sheathing, install it to
protect the house and its occupants from a collapsing chimney.
Better yet, consider replacing unsafe brick chimneys and fireplaces with prefabricated metal fireplaces and metal
flues. These prefabricated units can be boxed and then, for appearance, shingled or finished with an imitation brick
exterior where they extend above the roof.
Air conditioning and heating units: Rooftop or window installations should be well secured, or they may be
shaken loose during a quake.
Exterior stairs, porches, and decks: All structures attached to the house, including their footings, supports, and
lateral bracings, should be inspected and strengthened if necessary. Add metal connectors to prevent the structure
from shaking or twisting apart. Look for rotted wood or termite damage that can weaken exterior structures.
Trees: Remove any trees or large branches likely to fall on your house in case of a quake.
Is the interior of your home safe in case of an earthquake?
Examine your house or apartment, room by room:
Imagine---If a big quake strikes:
Tall furniture and bookcases may tip over.
Cabinet doors may burst open, emptying dishes and other objects onto the floor. Lamps, TV sets, hanging plants,
suspended light fixtures, and other household items may fall.
Toxic and flammable material in the kitchen or workshop may spill.
Appliances may "walk.
Rearrange things to minimize damage:
Secure bookcases and other top-heavy furniture to wall studs with metal L-brackets and/or lag screws.
Replace conventional cabinet door latches with safety latches that won't open in a quake. Keep heavy objects on
low shelves. Secure hanging fixtures well.
Put toxic and flammable materials in spill-proof, crush-proof containers on low shelves, preferably in locked
Remove or lock wheels or casters, if any, on refrigerator and other heavy appliances, or block them so they won't
move. Brace your water heater by fastening it to wall studs with metal straps (after installing an insulating blanket
around it to conserve energy).
Family Plan
Use the Family Plan Checklist (last page of brochure) to record emergency plans, phone numbers, and other
essential information. Make copies for all family members.
Coordinated plans and procedures with neighbors in case of absence. Exchange normal and emergency phone
numbers, house keys, information on utility shut-offs, etc.
Discuss earthquake and post-earthquake emergencies with your family, including what each person should do--
-whether at home or elsewhere---when the quake strikes. Practice emergency procedures. (See later sections on
During the Quake and After the Quake.)
Plan how to get in touch with each other if some family members are away from home.
Phone lines should be reserved for calls about life-threatening emergencies---especially in the hours
immediately after the quake. Make only essential calls, and keep them brief. Most lines will be out; those that
work will likely be jammed. Pay telephones may still be working when home phones are out. It may be easier to
call out of state than to place a local call. So your plan should include out-of-state numbers where you can leave
emergency messages for each other.
Each family member should know where to go if it is impossible to return home. Everyone, including children,
should carry ID cards and a list of alternative destinations, names, and phone numbers (including out-of-state
numbers) to be used in case of separation from the family. Copies of the Family Plan could be given to the child's
teacher and taped inside the child's lunch pail or notebook. The Family Plan should also include information about
school and work evacuation plans. For example, how long after a quake will the school keep children there waiting
for parents to pick them up? Where will the children be taken if the parents do not arrive?
Train family members when, where, and how to turn off utilities---gas, electrical, and water shut-offs. Teach
each family member where the main gas shutoff is located, and leave a wrench in a handy spot nearby. Teach each
family member how to turn off gas at each appliance and heater as well. In some cities, fire departments distribute
free gas meter wrenches and water heater tie-downs along with free home fire safety inspections. Utility companies
also provide free home inspections of your gas services.
Emergency Supplies
After a big quake many utilities and services will be out, and the authorities will be overwhelmed. Expect to be on
your own for at least a few days, and possibly up to two weeks.
Gathering "survival stashes" in advance, and storing them where they will be accessible and undamaged after the
quake, will make this time less trying. To be safe, plan to take care of your family for a minimum of two weeks
without outside help or supplies. (For more on supplies, see After the Quake.)
Make sure you have a pair of hard-soled shoes, work gloves, and a flashlight and spare batteries handy both at
home---perhaps under the bed---and at work. Immediately after a big quake, put on the shoes and gloves to protect
yourself as you move about. Use the flashlight if electrical power is interrupted and if the quake occurs at night or
when you are inside a portion of a building without natural light.
Fire Control
Preparation and practice can do a lot to lessen the risk of fire---a primary quake hazard. Draw up a plan for
escaping from a fire in your home. List all rooms, doors, and windows, and designate save exits.
If you may need to escape from an upper story, provide folding ladders or rope or chain ladders. (Practice with
them. Rope and chain ladders are difficult to use.) Never jump from an upper-story window. As a last resort, hang
from a window and drop, but be sure it's into a safe place. Remove all hazards---garden stakes, rocks, etc---from the
areas beneath windows that might be used as emergency exits.
Be sure gas lines are connected to appliances by flexible tubing (much less likely than rigid pipe to break). Prevent
appliances from "walking."
Train family when and how to shut off gas at main valve and at each appliance and heater as well. (Details in After
the Quake.)
Place several fire extinguishers in key spots (some outside the house) where they will be easily accessible after the
quake. Teach family members how to use them. (See After the quake.) Powder-type ABC extinguishers are good
for all sorts of fires. Maintenance: Every two or three months, check to be sure extinguishers are full. Turn them
upside down and rap the bottom with a rubber mallet or a board to keep the powder from caking.
Clear away combustibles (dry grass, weeds, firewood, scrap lumber, flammable chemicals) from the outside of the
house, garage, sheds, fences, etc. Get rid of unnecessary combustibles inside the house or garage. Make sure
nothing flammable is near the has heater or water heater.
Store a supply of tap water or purified water in unbreakable airtight containers. Minimum 15 gallons per
person. More would be better. Each person requires one gallon of drinking water per day. Store water
away from light (in opaque, not transparent, containers) in protected area which will not collapse and
which will be accessible after the quake. Old bleach (Clorox) bottles are useful. Change the water for a
fresh supply every three months. Water the garden with the old supply.
Wrap (to prevent breakage) and store several bottles of chemical water purifier (tincture of iodine, iodine
crystals, etc.). Include eye droppers for measuring. (Details in After the Quake.)
Other Supplies:
  Funnel, extra cups or canteens, collapsible plastic water jugs, etc.
  Buckets for catching rain water (for example, from roof downspouts) and for carrying water. Line
buckets with plastic bags if they leak or are dirty.
  Pot for boiling water, strainer and/or cheesecloth to filter it.

Food and Cooking Supplies
  Shovel. A pick could also be handy.
  Matches in waterproof container.
  Charcoal (20 lbs. per person), charcoal lighter, and/or
  Camp stove and fuel, and/or
  Grill or fire pit.
  You can improvise a fire pit by digging a hole, lining it with aluminum foil, and cooking on an
oven grate.
  Don't cook food directly on a rack taken from the refrigerator (harmful effects from the metal).
Such racks are all right for heating up pots and pans.
  Large pots and pans with lids. Double boiler to cook quickly and save fuel.
  Metal coffee pot.
  Two pairs adjustable (channel-lock) pliers. Very useful for handling hot items.
  Oven mitts, hot pads.
  Can Opener.
  Aluminum foil.
  Heavy-duty 30-gallon plastic garbage bags and twist ties (minimum several dozen). Smaller
plastic bags would also be useful.
  Plenty of paper towels and/or napkins, paper plates, plastic utensils.
  Canned food. Minimum three cans of food per person per day. To be safe, store 40 to 50 cans
per person. Examples: stews, hearty soups, sardines, tuna, vegetables. Include foods that can be eaten
cold. Fruit juices would be welcome if you have room.
  Multi-vitamins, dietary supplements.
  Coffee, tea, cocoa, powdered milk, powdered juice mix, etc. Remember, water may be in short
  Ball-point pen and stick-on labels (and/or note paper and tape).
  Soap. Best is an antibacterial liquid surgical scrub like Betadine, which can be found in
pharmacies. Hexachlorophene soaps are not recommended because they can be dangerous to infants
and small children. It would also be a good idea to have a supply of alcohol-based, waterless hand-
cleaning gel (Pro Care) and alcohol-impregnated tissues (Handi-Wipes) in case water is extremely
scarce after the quake.
  Temporary hand wash. Best is a hanging plastic bag (Sun Shower) with hose, nozzle, and shut-off
valve. You can also use a garden sprinkler or a can with a pouring spout. Or improvise a hand wash
with an old bleach bottle: punch holes in the cap and pour through the cap, or punch a few small holes
about on the side of the bottle about an inch above the bottom: when you unscrew the cap, water will
run through the holes, and it will stop when you screw the cap back on.
  Small bucket or other container, with lid (for urine).
  Medium bucket or other container, with lid (for feces).
  Detached toilet seat.
  Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, twist ties. Minimum several dozen (in addition to those for
kitchen garbage, etc.). Don't skimp.
  Toilet paper (2 rolls per person per week).
  Clorox II powder or powdered agricultural lime (minimum 5--10 lbs.)
  Shovel or spade for digging latrine. Pick for hard ground.
  for dealing with human waste, see After the Quake.


  One roll (200 feet) of 5 mil plastic sheeting.
  Clothesline, rope, strong cord.
  Shovel, pick, crowbar, axe, hammer, nails, saw, staple gun.
  Adjustable (crescent) wrench to be left by main gas valve for emergency shutoff. It would be handy to have
another one.
  Some of the tools (especially the crowbar) could be useful in rescues from damaged buildings.
  Dripless candles, matches in waterproof container.
  Flashlights, small AM or AM-FM radio, extra bulbs and batteries. Cheap disposable flashlights can be
stocked in emergency supplies. Once a year, replace them with new ones and take the old ones for everyday
  Extra shelter and sleeping gear. Ground cloths, tarps, tents, sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses or foam
pads, etc. Several small, inexpensive packaged "tube tents" could come in handy.

First Aid
  Keep a home first aid kit where it will be accessible after a quake, preferably in a strong, water-tight,
fireproof container. Use zip-lock plastic bags to organize and protect contents.
  Keep a good first-aid manual with the kit. Refer to it for details on supplies.
  Include basics for minor wounds: small bandages, tape, anti-bacterial soap, alcohol, etc. If possible, add
supplies for more serious injuries: large dressings, bandage rolls, sling, splint, etc.

  Keep a small pack of personal emergency supplies and clothing at work, in case you cannot reach your
home or your car.
  If possible, keep an old bicycle there as well. It may be the best means of transportation after the quake.
  If you don't work on the ground floor, a length of strong rope might come in handy in case of stairway
  Administrators of businesses and other workplaces should also consider keeping emergency equipment and
supplies on the premises.

  Shoes with heavy soles.
  Work gloves
  Warm clothing, including sweaters, overcoats, rain gear, caps, and gloves.
  Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses.
  Store emergency clothing in extra suitcases, duffels, or backpacks in a dry place that will be accessible
after the quake.
  Keep a minimal stash of clothing and emergency supplies in your car. An all-around car stash would also
include battery jumper cables, a tow rope, and a small tool kit.:
  Shoes with heavy soles and work gloves.
  Clothing for rain and cold weather.
  Flashlight, spare batteries, matches, small first-aid kit.
  Full canteen, water purification drops or tablets, possible bottled water or juice.
  Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses.
  Note paper, ball-point pen, tape.


Planning for the Disabled

In addition to the precautions that everyone should take, disabled persons have a few other things to think about.
Most important, designate in advance someone who can help you---a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker---
should you require assistance after the quake strikes.
Be sure to have within easy reach, both at home and at work, a flashlight and extra batteries. A flashlight could be
crucial in calling for help, especially if you are speech- and/or hearing-impaired. (If you are speech-impaired, a
pencil and notepad could also come in handy.) A small battery-powered AM/FM radio might also be useful.
Stock up extra medication and medical supplies that you might need, both at home and at work.
If you depend on electrical power for life support, you should have an emergency generator.
Plan you emergency evacuation routes from home and workplace. Remember that hallways and doorways may be
obstructed, and wheelchairs may not be able to pass.
If your vision is impaired, have an extra cane handy both at home and at work, even if you have a seeing-eye dog.
The dog may be injured or too frightened to help after a big quake.
When the quake strikes, take cover---if possible, under a desk or sturdy table; if not, in a doorway. If you are in a
wheelchair, lock the wheels. Shield your head with a cushion or with your arms.
Proceed cautiously in your evacuation after the quake. Beware of aftershocks.
Town and City Planning for the Emergency
Ask local officials whether your community as a plan for dealing with the emergency. It's important that official
planners consider the following questions and provide the answers to the public:
1. 1. How many people live here? How many work out of town? How many live elsewhere but come to work
here? What is the approximate total number of people who would be here if the quake struck in the middle of a
working day; during morning or evening rush hour; at night; on a weekend or holiday?
2. 2. Will key city employees who live elsewhere, especially fire and police personnel, be able to return to their
posts after a quake? Or should your community establish mutual aid agreements with other towns for these
people to report to the jurisdictions where they live if they can't return to their normal stations?
3. 3. Is your town or city storing adequate medical supplies where they will be accessible after an earthquake?
Have emergency aid stations been designated and staffed?
4. 4. Where should the badly injured be taken? The lightly injured? The dead?
5. 5. Where will the emergency message and information centers be located?
6. 6. Where can emergency water supplies be obtained? How can they be distributed?
7. 7. How and where will those whose homes are totally destroyed, or who can't get back home, be sheltered and
8. 8. How will emergency sanitation problems be handled? (Human waste, garbage, etc.)
9. 9. Where should able-bodied citizens report for voluntary emergency duty?
10. 10. How will public information be broadcast? Which radio stations?
11. 11. How will public order be preserved, looting prevented, etc.?
During the Quake
Survival Response
There's a joke about an earthquake striking while some American tourists are visiting a Tokyo museum. Screams,
shrieks, terrified pleas. Above the din a voice is heard shouting, "I'm from California! We stand in the doorway!"
Then some else calls, "I'm from Illinois---what should I do?"
The real thing won't be funny. What should you do if you're at home? In a car? In a high-rise building? Walking
downtown? For the answers, see below.
Make sure everyone in your family understands what to do when the quake strikes, no matter where they are.
Acquaint everyone with hazards in and around the home. Decide on the best places to take cover in various
locations in and around the house, as well as in other places frequented by family members: work, school, shopping,
When The Quake Strikes
Stay where you are. Most quake injuries occur as people enter or leave buildings. The greatest danger is from
falling objects just outside exterior doorways and walls.
If you're inside, stay inside and take the best available cover.
  Get under a sturdy table or desk.
  Stand or crouch in a strong doorway in a load-bearing wall, not a partition wall.
  Brace yourself in an inside corner of the room.
  If possible, shield your head with a coat, cushion or blanket.
  Stay away from windows, mirrors, or other glass that might shatter.
  Avoid chandeliers and other heavy hanging objects that might fall.
  Keep clear of bookcases, cabinets, and other pieces of heavy furniture that might topple or spill their
  Stay away from stoves, heating units, fireplaces, and any area where bricks might fall from the chimney.
If you were asleep, take a few moments to get oriented. Make sure you know what's happening.
If you're outside, find shelter outdoors---unless you're lucky enough to be in an open space where nothing can fall
on you.
  Be sure to stay clear of power lines and poles, trees or branches, external stairs, building facade ornaments,
chimneys, or anything that might fall.
If you're downtown, hazards increase---especially in areas of high-rise buildings. Windows and building facades
can shower the streets with deadly litter. Get under a strong doorway or crawl under a parked vehicle (the bigger,
the better).
If you're in a high-rise building, don't try to use the elevators or the stairs during the quake. Even after the quake,
be very wary of stairs which may have been weakened by the shaking.

After The Quake
Handling Emergencies and Living through the Aftermath
Don't think your problems will be all over if you survive the quake itself.
Communicating with the outside world, or getting help may be difficult or impossible. You should be prepared to
survive on your own for two weeks or more.
Immediately afterward, assuming you're lucky enough not to be a casualty, you may well have one or more
immediate emergencies to deal with.
  People around you may be injured.
  Fires may break out and there may be no water to fight them.
  You may be trapped in a building with unsafe elevators and stairwells.
Immediately After the Quake
Put on shoes with heavy soles. Wear gloves.
Beware of aftershocks. When the quake subsides, don't blindly run out. More shocks may be on the way---perhaps
bigger than the first, perhaps smaller.
Beware of weakened structures. Aftershocks may trigger landslides or collapse weakened buildings, walkways,
roadways, bridges, and overpasses. Avoid elevators and be very wary of stairways, which may have been damaged.
Be very careful where you walk, ride, or drive. Proceed carefully, looking for possible shelters or escapes as you
Check for injured or trapped persons in your building and neighboring buildings. Mark known hazards like
weakened structures. (Note: Before the quake, coordinate plans and procedures with neighbors in case of absence.
Don't enter another person's property without good reason.)
Check for fires and gas leaks from ruptured lines or connections.
Open windows and doors for ventilation if you smell gas.
Turn off stove and/or heater if on.
Don't light a match or turn on any gas appliance until you're sure the gas lines haven't been ruptured. If that
means waiting until someone knowledgeable can check them, wait.
If you smell gas or have other reason to think the lines have been damaged, turn off the gas as soon as
possible. (See illustration.) Don't turn the gas back on yourself; wait until your local utility confirms that it is safe
and sends someone to turn on the gas and relight the pilot lights.
If you have reason to believe the electrical lines have been broken or power is out, don't turn on electric switches.
Unplug appliances. (Fuses or circuit breakers should automatically shut off electricity if there is trouble on the
circuit.) Be especially careful if you smell gas. Don't attempt to shut off your house's electricity or even unplug
appliances if you can smell gas. One spark could set off a fire.

Extinguish fires.
Before the quake, place fire extinguishers in strategic locations (including some outside the house) where they will
be easily accessible after the quake. Remember, water will probably not be available.
Before using a fire extinguisher, be sure you have a safe exit in case the fire gets out of control.
Use the proper extinguisher for the type of fire:
  Cass A for normal combustibles (wood, paper, cloth).
  Class B for flammable liquids and most electric fires.
  Class C for electric fires. In most cases you should shut off electricity before attempting to extinguish the
  ABC fire extinguishers are good for all types of fires.
Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire. Sweep the nozzle from side to side and slightly raise the stream as you
sweep. Don't start at the top of the fire and work down.
Use a garden hose (assuming water is available) only if the fire is small. Spray the base of the fire and work up.
Use a spray nozzle or finger to create a spray. After fire is out, conserve water; don't leave it running.
Once the fire is out, break apart charred materials with rake or hoe and clear them from the area, to make sure
embers don't flare up again.
Use a shovel to throw dirt or sand on the fire, to separate burning from unburned materials, and to create fire
  Rakes and hoes also come in handy for breaking up small fires.
  A water-soaked blanket can also be useful in smothering a small blaze.
Assist injured people.
Administer first aid or CPR if necessary.
Hospitals and clinics will be overwhelmed, and only the worst emergency cases should be referred to them.
Avoid fallen power lines. Don't stand under power lines during or after the quake.
  Rescuing someone in contact with a live electrical line is very dangerous, and utility companies warn
against attempting it. If you do attempt it, be aware that you are taking a big risk. Try to push the line away
with a non-conductive pole of some sort (wooden or plastic). A sturdy, long-handled broom might work!
  If you're in a car which is touching fallen power lines, you should probably wait for help. The rubber tires
should insulate you from shock as long as you do not touch the ground while you are still in contact with the
car. If you must get out, be sure you don't let an open door touch anything else, and jump entirely clear in one
Avoid any chemical spilled from power poles. Utility companies have removed most containers of PCB, but this
highly toxic material is still occasionally found in transformers atop electrical power poles.
Don't depend on the telephone. Keep all calls brief, even the most important ones.
Use the phone only to report extreme emergencies---like life-threatening injuries, major fires, or fallen power
lines. Any communication facilities that remain intact after the quake should be reserved for matters of life and
death. Too many routine inquiries to police and fire departments can overload the circuits, preventing any calls
from being made.
Be careful about water. Don't drink tap water or use toilets until you know the water and sewage lines are intact.
Contaminated water lines could spread epidemic. Overflowing toilets will create a health hazard.

The Post-Quake Emergency Period
Even after the first emergencies are over, don't expect life to return to normal in a few days. Public authorities will
be overwhelmed for some time to come.
Millions of people have survived terrible natural disasters. You can, too. But you need a little forethought and,
above all, a positive attitude.
Don't let yourself be overcome by emotion---especially panic or depression---as many others undoubtedly will. Act
thoughtfully and rationally. Use your common sense. Help others to do the same.
For days or weeks, you and those around you face four major problems:
ƒ Water ƒ Food ƒ Sanitation ƒ Shelter
The first rule of all is to conserve water.
You need a minimum of one gallon per person per day for drinking water alone---more in hot weather,
possibly less if it is cool. This means a minimum of nearly 30 gallons for a family of four for a one-week
emergency. Twice as much would be better.
Normal supplies will probably be unavailable. Lines will likely be broken by a major quake, especially if there are
signs of ground movement or rupture.
If you have reason to believe the water lines are damaged (even if not in your immediate vicinity), don't use
unpurified tap water until your local utility confirms that the supply is safe.
If flows have been interrupted, the good water already in your pipes and water heater may siphon back into the main
lines. Consider turning off the line that feeds your house from the street. The main valve usually as a simple faucet-
type handle.
Water should be used only for:
ƒDrinking ƒWashing Hands ƒCooking
Until normal service is restored or an adequate supply is otherwise assured, water should NOT be used for plants,
bathing, washing clothes, or washing dishes (except as explained below).
Immediately inventory available water supplies and institute strict rationing.
Don't wait until careless use has depleted your supply.
Where to find water:
  Your emergency supply.
  Hot water heaters. Filter the water for glass particles if inner lining has been broken.
  A few gallons from the toilet flush tank (not the bowl). This water is probably all right as it is, but it would
be safer to purify it. Do not use water if toilet has been flushed since the quake: the mingling of broken sewer
and water lines could spread disease. Do not use chemically "blue" toilet tank water.
  Ice cubes from freezer.
  Liquids and juices from canned and bottle foods and beverages.
  Rain collected in clean containers. (Line dirty or leaking containers with plastic bags.)
  If the emergency continues for a longer period, water may be brought to the area in tank trucks and you will
need containers to carry it home.

How to purify water for drinking:
First, filter the water. Then boil it and/or add chemical purifier. Safest method of all combines boiling with
chemical purification.
Filtration: To remove sediment, dirt, or other particles, strain water into a clean container through several layers of
clean cloth, cheesecloth, paper towels, or paper coffee filters.
Boiling: Boiling water vigorously for one to five minutes usually kills most harmful bacteria, viruses, and
organisms (like Giardia Lamblia). Boiling for 15 to 20 minutes is even better, but since fuel supplies after the quake
are likely to be limited, short-term boiling will probably have to suffice.
Iodine is the best chemical purifier for drinking water. Add 10 drops of 2% tincture of iodine to each quart of
water. Double the dosage if the water is cloudy. Stir and let stand 20 minutes before using the purified water.
You can buy 2% tincture of iodine (dissolved in ethanol) at the pharmacy. Or make your own by dissolving 2
grams of USP grad iodine crystals (purple) in 100 ml. of ethanol. (There are about 30 ml. in 1 fluid ounce. You can
us Everclear, a liquor containing a high percentage of ethanol.) Shake the crystals in the ethanol until completely
dissolved. The solution should be stable indefinitely if stored in a tightly-closed glass bottle. (Don't use rubbing
alcohol or methanol; they are toxic.)
Another option is to use commercially-prepared water purification tablets which release iodine (Potable-Aqua,
Globaline). Follow instructions on the bottle or package.
Note: For medical reasons, some people (like those with thyroid problems) should avoid excess iodine intake. In
this case use a combination of boiling and chlorine for water purification.
Chlorine is an acceptable chemical purifier, though not as good as iodine. (The Allied armies in 1944 suffered from
dysentery in spite of heavy use of chlorine in their drinking water). It also leaves a stronger taste in the water than
iodine. But chlorine is readily available in the form of liquid household bleach (Clorox). Add 4 drops to each quart
of water, stir, and let stand 30 minutes. Double the dosage if the water is cloudy.
You can also use commercially-prepared chlorine tablets for purifying water; follow the directions on the bottle or
A high-tech solution to the problem of purifying water is a modern had pump and micro-pore filtration system
(Katadyn, First Need) that filters out bacteria. These items, available from outdoor equipment stores, are somewhat
expensive---especially the larger sizes that have enough capacity to filter a reasonable amount of water.
Consume food supplies in this order:
  First, from the refrigerator.
  Then, from the freezer.
  Finally, from cans
You can keep fresh food in small ice chest for several days by thawing frozen food inside it. Open the chest as little
as possible. Keep it in a cool, shaded place, covered with blankets or other insulation.
Cooking or salting may preserve food for a time. If you have too much fresh food, share it with your neighbors.
Never eat spoiled food. If water supply is too limited to prepare fresh and frozen foods, eat canned foods only.
Food preparation should be as simple as possible. You should use an absolute minimum of water and produce
very little garbage.
Avoid cooking food directly in pots and pans, and use paper plates and plastic utensils if possible. Dishwashing
consumes too much water, and inadequate rinsing can cause diarrhea.
If possible, grill, barbecue, or cook food directly in cans. The trick is to rely mainly on canned food. Open the top
of the can, put it into a double boiler or a pot of boiling water, heat it, and remove it with channel-lock pliers. It is
best to eat directly from the can. Paper plates can also be used.

If water is very scarce, use plastic forks and spoons and throw them away instead of washing them. You may not
eat gourmet meals, but you will survive.
Cooking should be done entirely outside to avoid fire hazards, until you are sure your home's utilities are safe to
Avoid kitchen stoves because of possibly ruptured gas and electric lines. Do not cook in an indoor fireplace
because the quake may have weakened it.
Cook outdoors, away from buildings, on a camp stove, barbecue grill, or barbecue pit (lined with foil to increase
heat). Keep your fire small. Never leave it unattended. Watch for wind-borne embers.
If you lack fuel, or if it is too wet or too windy to cook outdoors, simply eat the canned food cold.
Garbage should be kept to a minimum. You can reduce its bulk and odor by cleaning empty food cans in used
hand wash water, opening both ends, and crushing them flat. But do not waste fresh water in this way unless an
adequate supply is assured.
Don't use the garbage disposal in your sink until you know all sewer and water lines are intact.
If it's not too windy, scraps and paper can be burned. (never burn styrofoam---noxious smoke.) Cans can also be
cleaned by burning them, but only if there is plenty of fuel.
Otherwise, put garbage into double plastic bags and close with twist ties. Mark and store the full bags somewhere
safe from rats and other animals---inside boxes or other containers if possible.
If you bury garbage, bury it deep and cover the spot so animals won't dig it up. (During pre-quake planning, check
with local officials on how garbage should be disposed of. Some may not want it buried.)
Clean rubbish (such as paper, plastic, bottles, and clean cans) should be stored separately from garbage since it poses
no real health hazards.
Good sanitation is vital after a civil disaster.
Washing hands carefully with soap and a small amount of clean water is one of the keys to preventing the spread of
intestinal disorders and even of epidemic disease in the emergency period.
See Before the Quake-Supplies-Sanitation for best types of soap. Alcohol-impregnated tissues (Handi-Wipes) or
alcohol-based, waterless hand cleaning gel (Pro Care) may be used is water is scarce.
Before handling food or eating, and after using the emergency toilet facilities, hand washing is absolutely
required. No exceptions.
Don't use a common bucket or pan for hand washing; this spreads germs.
The best method for hand washing is to suspend a water bag with a hose and clip to turn water on and off. Such
bags are commercially available in sporting goods stores as "portable showers." (See Before the Quake-Supplies-
Sanitation for suggestions on improvising a temporary hand wash). Save used hand wash water for cleaning
food cans after eating.
Human waste: This may be an unpleasant subject. But if solid human waste is not properly disposed of, epidemic
disease could result.
Do not use normal toilet facilities, whether public or private, until officially examined for broken sewer lines.
(Moreover, you can be sure that the public toilets will be unbelievably foul from the first day on.) Attempting to use
toilets will likely result in overflow and fecal contamination of the facilities---with no water to clean them up!
Emergency toilet facilities must be provided. Don't wait for the authorities to do it---they'll be overwhelmed with
other tasks. (See the following page for what to do.)

Emergency latrine or toilet:
Urine is sterile (germ-free), so it is less a health problem than an odor problem. Urinate into a bucket that can be
covered tightly. Empty the bucket where it won't offend anyone (directly into a street gutter opening, for example).
Solid waste (feces) is the main health problem, and it must be dealt with carefully. Whenever possible, dispose of
feces by burial.
Dig a latrine (rectangular pit) 2 feet long, 6 inches wide, and as deep as possible (minimum 2 feet).
Provide toilet paper, a scoop, and Clorox II powder or powdered agricultural lime (available in garden supply stores)
in a covered container. After each use of the latrine, sprinkle a small amount of the powder over the feces, then
sprinkle a small amount of dirt over the powder. Wash hands.
When the latrine is filled to within one foot of the top, fill it with dirt, pack it down, cover and mark it, and dig a
fresh pit. Note: During your pre-quake planning, check with your local officials on whether they want you to bury
solid human waste.
When solid human waste cannot be buried, set up an emergency toilet:
Provide a bucket or other container with a tight cover. Line it with two heavy-duty plastic garbage bags. Put
absorbent material (kitty litter, shredded newspaper) into inner bag. Cover container when not in use, taking care
not to tear the plastic liners. Never urinate into the bag. Urine weakens the plastic. Urinate before using the
emergency toilet. Mark a separate bucket for urine.
To use the emergency toilet, uncover it, fold the bags down over the sides of the bucket, and defecate directly into
the inner bag. Sprinkle Clorox II powder or agricultural lime directly onto the feces. Use toilet paper sparingly. Put
all used toilet paper into the same bag. Replace the cover on the bucket, taking care not to tear the plastic bags.
Wash hands.
To change bags, close up the two bags in the bucket with twist ties one at a time, inner bag first. Expel the air
before you close the bags to avoid tearing them. Put the bags into a closed container (like a garbage can) which has
itself been lined with one or two heavy-duty plastic bags and marked as human waste. Then put two fresh bags in
the emergency toilet.
Ration plastic bags to last at least two weeks. Have plenty on hand in your emergency supplies. Until they can be
disposed of, keep all human waste bags and garbage cans containing them well away from centers of human
activity. Mark them clearly and protect them against breaking or spilling.
Always wash hands carefully after using emergency toilet.
Many buildings may be unsafe to use after the quake. You should be prepared to set up simple temporary shelters.
Use tents, tarps, or heavy (5 mil) plastic and rope or clothesline. String lines between trees or between a fence and
the side of a house. Suspend tarps or plastic on the lines in the form of an A-frame or lean-to.
Use tarps or more of the heavy plastic for a ground cover and moisture barrier. If rain threatens, dig a trench around
your shelter to divert water. Collect extra blankets, sleeping bags, overcoats, sweaters, etc. for warmth.
Appendix I. Facts about Earthquakes
Earthquake Damage
Earthquake damage at a given point depends on several factors:
  size of the quake (its magnitude);
  nature of the movement along the fault;
  depth of the quake below the surface;
  distance from the epicenter;
  type of soil and rock layers transmitting the quake's energy;
  season of the year (more landslides in wet weather);
  and, of course, population density and types of buildings in the affected area;
Magnitude and Intensity: The Richter and Modified Mercalli Scales
Magnitude describes the size of the earthquake itself in terms of total energy released. The familiar Richter Scale is
a magnitude scale.
Intensity---how much the ground shakes at a given point on the surface---is what matters when it comes to damage
and death. But intensity doesn't really describe how big the earthquake is.
There are several different scales for measuring the magnitude of earthquakes. The most familiar is the Richter
Scale, which is based on the amplitude of the quake's largest seismic wave (ground motion). Because the Richter
Scale is logarithmic, an increase of one unit in magnitude indicates a tenfold increase in the size of the quake. In
turn, a tenfold increase in size represents 31.6 times as much energy released.
So every unit increase in the Richter Scale means an earthquake roughly 32 times more powerful. A quake of
Richter magnitude 6.0 has almost 32 times the energy of a 5.0, and nearly a thousand times as much energy as a 4.0
(31.6 x 31.6 = 998.6).
An increase of half a unit in the scale indicates 5.6 times as much energy. A 6.5 quake on the Richter Scale is nearly
six times as big as a 6.0; a 7.5 is about 32 times more powerful than a 6.5; and so on.
The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale ranges from I to XII and describes a quake's effects on people and buildings
at a given point on the earth's surface. People do not generally feel intensities below III or IV. Minor structural
damage, like cracks in walls and chimneys, usually begins with intensities of VI. Moderate damage occurs in the
VII-VIII range; major damage at IX and X; and devastation at XI and XII.
An earthquake has different intensities at different locations. The maximum intensity is usually at or near the source
of the quake (its epicenter), and the intensity diminishes with distance from the epicenter. How much or how fast it
diminishes depends on the nature of the subsurface rocks that carry the quake's waves.
In California, where relatively soft, young substrata dampen and absorb the waves, even fairly strong quakes are
rarely felt more than a few hundred miles from their centers. East of the Rocky Mountains, earthquakes are less
common, but the strata are older and harder, and quake energy travels much farther. In June 1987, the moderate 5.0
shake centered in Lawrenceville, Illinois was felt in at least 16 states. In 1811 and 1812 three great earthquakes
struck along the New Madrid (Missouri) Rift near Memphis, Tennessee and rattled buildings in Boston, 1100 miles
away. One of them is now estimated to have been Richter 7.8.

Table I. Average Number of Earthquakes
Richter Per Year in the World Per 100 Years in Duration of
Magnitude Strong
California Shaking
8.0-8.9 1 1 30-90
7.0-7.9 15 12 20-50
6.0-6.9 140 80 10-30
5.0-5.9 900 400 2-15
4.0-4.9 8000 2000 0-15
Lessons of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was an even greater disaster than the city admitted at the time.
Casualties: The official Army estimate of 498 dead represents only a fraction of the fatalities. Recent research
indicates that at least 2500 were killed, probably many more.
Hardest hit was a five to six square-mile area of San Francisco south of Market Street, between 11th and Townsend,
where wooden, brick, and masonry buildings several stories high were jammed together. Many collapsed and some
burned. Of 100,000 people who lived there, 1,000 died.
Damage: Some 28,000 buildings were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of people had to flee their homes. A
hundred major fires broke out, many caused by ruptured gas lines, while firefighters were nearly helpless because of
broken water mains. Yet fire damage, though considerable, was not as extensive as claimed.
Covering up the truth: In the aftermath of the quake, because they didn't want to scare off the Eastern capital and
credit San Francisco needed to rebuild, city officials minimized the deaths and the damage in their public statements.
Though City Hall lay in ruins, Mayor Eugene Schmitz claimed the government was functioning normally and denied
reports of looting and civil disorder. (Meanwhile, he issued orders to army and police personnel to shoot looters on
sight.) Schmitz said that the earthquake produced "absolutely no change" in the effectiveness of the police and fire
departments, which were already overwhelmed. In fact, San Francisco almost fell apart for a few days. There was
widespread looting and arson. Life for refugees in the Golden Gate Park tent city was no picnic. Many San
Francisco residents left the city and even the Bay Area right away, never to return.
Fraud was in the air, and private citizens were as heavily involved as the city government. Since insurance policies
usually excluded earthquake damage, few claimants admitted that their buildings had been damaged by ground
movement. Instead, homeowners and businessmen blamed everything on fire. Insurance companies offered
thousands of dollars for photographs showing that buildings had collapsed instead of burning as alleged. Total
damage was estimated around $500 million. Eventually, the companies paid some 90,000 settlements totaling $230
million---roughly $20 billion in 1987 dollars.

Appendix II. Planning for the Economic Consequences of a Big Quake
A great earthquake will devastate the economic life of an entire region. The emergency will disrupt work, travel,
and communication throughout the area. It could even cost some employees their jobs.
Business and Organizations
Small businesses as well as large organizations will be damaged, even wiped out. Physical plants, offices, factories,
and workshops will be damaged or destroyed. Computers may be down for a long time. Vital business data and
financial records may be permanently lost.
Immediately after the big quake, employers who find it impossible to conduct business will be looking for ways to
cut costs. Laying off workers who can't get to their jobs will be an obvious way to reduce expenses. So living close
to your job or having a bicycle handy might make it less likely that you job will be eliminated.
How quickly firms recover will depend on factors including damage to physical plant, availability of rebuilding
money (from earthquake insurance, reserve funds, accounts receivable, credit, etc.), plans already made, and
precautions taken.
Some companies may never recover, and jobs will be permanently lost. Of course other employment may be
available during the reconstruction phase, but that won't necessarily help those who are thrown out of work,
temporarily or permanently, by the quake.
Prudent managers will take preventive steps and make plans for dealing with the emergency. Some of the safety
measures recommended for the home---its structure, exterior, and interior---can be adapted to workplaces and
offices. (Note: "tilt-up" buildings, commonly used in urban areas for warehouses, etc., are more susceptible to
collapse in a strong earthquake. Emergency shelters and evacuation procedures should be considered.)
Additional precautions should be taken for particular problems: high-rise buildings, heavy equipment, toxic
materials, etc.
Emergency supplies should include plenty of water, first aid, tools, and sanitation supplies.
It's also a good idea to have a communications plan, so that employees will know how to check in with the office
after the initial emergency is over, to determine what they can do to help the firm get back on its feet.
Another concern is the preservation of vital data---both paper records and computer data---on finances, orders, bills,
invoices, etc. Precautions range from protected storage vaults to the employment of special services that store
computer copies of business data for client companies.
Money and Banks
The local banking system will grind to a screeching halt if a big quake hits. Since banks rely heavily on computers,
don't be surprised if the banking system remains paralyzed for days---or weeks, if banks have no back-up plan for
the emergency.
Even if your bank springs back into life right away, the Federal Reserve System on which it depends may not
recover so quickly. You may find it impossible to withdraw money from accounts, use automatic teller machines, or
even cash checks or arrange for a loan.
Suggestions: Keep cash or traveler's checks in a safe place which will be accessible after a quake.
Ask your bank whether it has a plan for coping with post-earthquake emergencies and for serving customers in the
After the quake, try to recover financial records from your home or office; bank and charge card statements, loan
documents, payment and deposit receipts, insurance records, etc. Banks might lose track of transactions conducted
just before the quake, so it could be important to prove that you had deposited money the previous day.
Remember: until the financial system is operating normally again, cash will be king and barter may become a prince
of the realm.

Appendix III. Earthquake Insurance
Earthquake insurance is expensive. In the San Francisco Bay Area, annual premiums vary considerably, with
average rates of $2.50 to $3.00 per $1,000 of insured value and deductibles ranging from 10 to 15 percent.
Although by law all companies must offer earthquake insurance to homeowners, many refuse to renew it after the
first year, particularly for houses on fault lines or on geologically unstable soil.
Then there's the problem of collecting on claims after the quake strikes.
After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many individuals and firms falsely claimed fire damage to get around
earthquake exemption clauses in their insurance policies. After stout legal resistance, the companies had to pay
many of the claims. Next time it may not turn out that way. (See Lessons of 1906 in Appendix I.)
So only a fraction of homeowners were eligible to collect from the insurance companies, yet many were out of
pocket hundreds or thousands of dollars for repairs---including claimants who collected, since they had to pay the
In a big quake today, claims could overwhelm some insurance companies, especially local companies with too many
policies in the affected area and with offices heavily damaged by the quake. And the Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws
give them an easier way out than they had eighty years ago.
Even moderate quakes pose an insurance problem. In addition to their deductible clauses, many earthquake
insurance policies exclude damage to masonry, including fireplaces and exterior stucco.
Still, earthquake insurance may be a good investment. Before you buy or renew earthquake insurance,
consider the following questions:
1. 1. Is your home (or business office, etc.) on geologically stable ground?
2. 2. Is it constructed of wood, or of unreinforced masonry and/or brick?
3. 3. Is it properly bolted to an adequate foundation?
4. 4. Would it be affected if neighboring structures collapse or burn?
5. 5. If you have no earthquake insurance and your home is heavily damaged or totally destroyed, could you
afford to repair or replace it with personal savings? In such circumstances, could you arrange for adequate
6. 6. Will your insurance company survive the quake and the ensuing blizzard of claims in good enough financial
condition to pay your claim? Or will it file for reorganization under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws, leaving
you high and dry (or low and wet, as the case may be)?
Document your case with a camera. To protect your interests in case of insurance claims or declared losses for tax
purposes, make photographic records of your damage.
Take a set of exterior and interior photos of your home now. Label and date each print or slide. Store three copies
of the photos in separate safe places (one in your safety deposit box, one in a safe place at home with your financial
records, and one elsewhere, preferably in another region that would not be affected by the same quake).
As soon as possible after the quake, take another set of photos corresponding to the first and showing the damage.
In both the "before" and "after" photos, consider marking the date clearly on a large card and including it (and, if
possible, a current newspaper) in each shot.
You might also have neighbors sign and witness statements about the extent of the damage and how it occurred.
These records might be worth thousands of dollars to you in future tussles with your insurance company or the IRS.

Further Information on Earthquakes and Earthquake Safety
Bolt, Bruce A. Earthquakes. (New York: Freeman, 1988 rev. ed.)
An Earthquake Advisor's Handbook for Wood Frame Houses. (University of California, Berkeley: Center for
Planning and Developmental Research, College of Environmental Design, 1982.)
Earthquake Hazards and Wood Frame Houses: What You Should Know and Can Do. (University of
California, Berkeley: Center for Planning and Developmental Research, College of Environmental Design, 1982;
publication no. CP-15.)
Gere, James M. and Haresh C. Shah. Terra Non Firma: Understanding and Preparing for Earthquakes. (New
York: Freeman, 1984.)
Lafferty, Libby. How To Survive an Earthquake. (CHES of California, P.O. Box 1026, La Canada, CA 91011.)
Reitherman, Robert. Reducing the Risks of Nonstructural Earthquake Damage: A Practical Guide. (Southern
California Earthquake Preparedness Project, 1983.)
Steinbrugge, Karl V. Earthquake Hazard in the San Francisco Bay Area. (University of California, Berkeley:
Institute of Governmental Studies, 1968.)
Yaneff, Peter. Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1974.)
Note: The front pages of your telephone directory provide useful information on a variety of emergencies, including
Family Plan Checklist
(See sections entitled Before the Quake and After the Quake for details)
Emergency Phone Calls Only. Keep Calls Brief.
Police _____________________________ Fire


Family Members at Work, Where To Go If

School, etc. They Can't Go Home

Emergency Supplies Location Date Last Checked

Fire Extinguishers

First Aid Kit

Water & Purifying kit

Food & Cooking Supplies


Shelter (including tools)


Location of Emergency Exits

Gas Shut-off

Electrical Shut-off

Water Shut-Off