Disaster Guide

How to Prepare for and Recover from an Earthquake

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Earthquake - Know Your Risk

Examine fault line data to find out if your area is at risk for earthquakes. You can find detailed earthquake risk maps based on fault line data and earthquake history at FEMA's website. Remember, typical home insurance policies don't cover damage caused by earthquakes. If you live in an area close to a fault line or otherwise prone to earthquakes, consider purchasing a separate earthquake insurance policy to supplement your standard home insurance coverage.

During the 'Season'

You can't prepare for earthquake "season" because they occur at any time without warning, so it's important that your home is always earthquake ready. To prepare your home, you'll need to make it shake resistant. This process can include using strong latches on cabinets, installing flexible connections where gas lines meet appliances, locking or removing refrigerator wheels, moving heavy or breakable items to the floor or to low shelves, hanging mirrors and pictures on closed hooks, securing all heavy furniture to the walls and far from doors and exits, and bracing overhead light fixtures. For more tips, click here.


After an earthquake, you may be forced to leave your home and go out to the street to wait for aftershocks. This may be inconvenient, but remember that evacuations are for your safety and the safety of those around you. Follow evacuation orders to stay safe.

When You Return

When returning to your house after a disaster, take extreme caution. Unexpected hazards, such as natural gas leaks, could await you. Upon your return, take a post-disaster inventory, including photos and a list of damages to possessions and your home's structure. Also make minor repairs to prevent further damage from the elements and theft from looters. Temporary repairs are covered under typical insurance, so keep all receipts. Watch out, however, for contractors who require an exorbitant deposit up front and encourage high spending on temporary repairs. Scam artists frequently appear after disasters.

File a Claim

If you have an earthquake insurance policy, you should file a claim as soon as possible. The sooner you get the claims process moving, the sooner you can rebuild. Use your home inventory as a way to help relations run smoothly between you and your insurance adjuster.

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