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5 Things You Can Do Before An Earthquake Strikes

News reports have been full of updates about this week’s earthquakes on the East Coast and in Colorado.  The tremor that shook Virginia reached as far as Vermont, Illinois and Georgia.  Thankfully, neither quake caused any deaths or major losses.

But they serve as powerful reminders that disasters do happen – and they often happen without notice.  Various disasters trigger different consequences:  You maybe evacuated, or you may be confined to your home.  You may lose gas, power and phone service. You may be apart from children, pets or family members, with no immediate way of getting together.

However, in the face of quakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and other natural disasters, there are ways that you can be prepared:

1.  Have a Family Emergency Plan:

Your plan should include a local meeting point, a remote meeting point, a local contact, and an out-of-state contact, all family members’ contact information, as well as utility services,  physicians, and schools.

2. Have a Family Communications Plan:

Keep in mind that in case of a disaster, cell phone networks quickly become overwhelmed.

To touch base with friends or relatives, opt for text messaging:  According to, text messaging uses fewer network resources than a call or voice message – a text’s data can be transmitted bit by bit whereas voice data has to ‘travel’ together.  Also, even if your texting service receives a ‘busy’ signal, it will continue to try and send the message until it’s fully transmitted.

3.  Have a 3-Day Family Survival Kit

You’ve heard this advice before, and perhaps you’ve started on this project..  It takes a lot of discipline to put your kits together, but it’s a critical step in assuring your family’s safety in the event of a region-wide catastrophe.  It can save lives.

Consider assembling multiple kits. You don’t know where you and your family will be when disaster strikes, or if some areas of your home will be inaccessible.

Ideally, you will have a kit that’s accessible from inside your house, one that’s outside your home (perhaps stored in a covered trash can) and one in each car.

(My 85-year old mother who lives in tremor-rich Southern California has packed her emergency kit in a rolling suitcase and has stored it right next to her front door.  We love the idea of an emergency kit on wheels! When we remember the images from Hurricane Katrina and 09/11, we realize how much easier evacuation would be if everything you need was packed in a rolling suitcase that can travel with you quickly.)

4. Practice the Drill with Your Family

Set an annual date with your family to practice your emergency drills.  Maybe even call the emergency contacts on your list as part of the exercise. Have a picnic with the “old” snacks, while you re-stock your kit with new supplies.

Make your drill to review your emergency plans an annual tradition with your family.

5. Be Prepared For Life After The Disaster

Yes, life will go on after the shock.  What do you do if you’ve lost your home or car and have to rebuild from scratch?  This may be the time to consider Earthquake Insurance.

Earthquake damage is not covered on a standard homeowner’s insurance policy!  Consider an earthquake insurance policy, especially if you live in a tremor prone area such as the US West Coast.  But don’t forget that earthquakes have happened (and caused damage) in all 50 states.

McClain Insurance Services offers stand-alone earthquake insurance policies in Washington and Oregon.  Prepare for life after the disaster by making sure that your home and belongings are adequately protected.

If you have any questions about earthquake insurance, please give us a call at 425-379-9200.

Check out the City of Everett’s website for more information on disaster preparedness.


Please see the chart below for types of disasters that are excluded on a standard home insurance policy, and require a separate endorsement or insurance policy:

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