Living in California carries with it the ever present threat of an earthquake.  It’s a fact of life–just like the sun coming up in the morning.  Most quakes are relatively minor, but, every so often, we get a real shaker!  The major quakes don’t have to be on the scale of the 1906 San Francisco quake to do a lot of damage.  If you don’t think so, let your memory wander to the Loma Prieta quake of 1989, sometimes referred to as the World Series Quake.  It did a fairly significant amount of damage around the Bay Area, including collapsing a freeway in the East Bay and knocking down a section of the Bay Bridge.  Also, it killed 63 people. Yet its reading on the Richter Scale was 6.9–strong, but a far cry from the 1906 quake’s 8.3.

So, what do you do when the furniture starts doing the tango and the walls begin to shake like tree limbs in a high wind?  What can you do in advance to be ready?  Earthquake insurance is one good thing to have in advance should a quake damage or destroy your home.  It’s expensive and often carries a 15% deductible (of your home’s total value.  But it’s a lot better than digging into your own pocket to find the cash for repairs/replacement.

As for what to do, now as when it happens, read on.

State and federal agencies have a wealth of information for Californians (links are below), but our favorite all-in-one preparedness resource is the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA), a public-private partnership. Its advice, in virtually all instances during an earthquake, is to drop, cover, and hold on.


A page on the ECA website states: “Official rescue teams from the U.S. and other countries who have searched for trapped people in collapsed structures around the world, as well as emergency managers, researchers, and school safety advocates, all agree that ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’ is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes.” Standing in a doorway, running outside, and the “triangle of life” method are considered dangerous and not recommended. Instead:

  • DROP where you are to your hands and knees, which protects you from being knocked down and allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter.
  • COVER your head and neck with an arm. Crawl underneath any nearby sturdy table or desk. Otherwise, crawl next to an interior wall that is not near windows. Stay on your knees and bend to protect vital organs.
  • HOLD ON until the earthquake is over.

The ECA website offers guidance on what to do in specific situations — indoors, in bed, in a high-rise, in a classroom, in a store, outdoors, driving, in a theater — and for people with disabilities.


Make plans now to reconnect and recover after an earthquake:

  • Pick a place to meet family or friends when the earthquake is over.
  • Designate a contact person who does not live in the area.
  • Provide all family members with a list of important contact numbers.
  • Assess your potential living situation if your home cannot be occupied after an earthquake.
  • Know about your children’s school or day-care facility earthquake plan. Keep emergency-release cards up to date.
  • Keep copies of essential documents — such as identification, insurance policies, and financial records — in a secure, waterproof container, along with your disaster-supply kits. Make a list of your possessions and photograph them.


So, good luck when the next one hits.  It’s just a matter of time.  Hopefully, the above information will help you minimize the effects, both to you and your home.

Aside from that, if you have any questions about real estate, present or future, give us a call.  Whether it’s helping you buy or sell your property or having some work done, we can help.  We have many excellent tradespeople in all areas of construction and maintenance we can refer you to, from painting out a room to doing a total remodel.  The numbers: Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.