Guest Post: Why I Prepare?

Why I Prepare……

by Jennifer in Reno


I was in the 3rd grade when I experience my first earth quake.  It was October 17th, 1989 at 6:04 in the evening.  Just about dinner time for my sister and I.  We were enjoying a regular evening home with my mother while my father was just about to leave from his office job just about an hour away from our house.


I don’t quite remember exactly what we were doing the moment it hit but as soon as it did, my short lived 9 years of life changed forever.  I remember my mother grabbing me and literally throwing me under our dining room table.  She grabbed my kid sister (just 6 six years old) and did the same with her.  After that, ever the cat lover, she scooped up both of our cats as if they were footballs and handed one to each of us girls and told us to hold on tight and stay.  That’s when I remember actually feeling the shaking and hearing the noises of rattling glass and creaking walls.  The entire house was shaking.  My mother did not get under the table with us.  Instead, she stood just 15 feet away holding up her prized grandfather clocked passed down from generations.  I remember screaming and crying “MOM” “MOM” begging her to come under the table.  It was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced.  Then the shaking stopped, just as suddenly as it had started.   It was the Loma Prieta Earthquake, 6.9 on the Richter and 7.1 with surface waves. San Francisco, 1989.


I have lived my entire life in fear of earthquakes.  In 1995 we had a quake while I was sitting in math class during high school.  I felt it a good 5 seconds before anyone else in my class did.  As soon as I felt it I jumped under my desk and screamed “earthquake!” – everyone looked at me like I was an idiot, then the floor shook and they all followed suit.   When my son was 2 years old I was working on the computer at my desk and I thought someone jumped on the roof – everything started shaking.  As soon as it was over I fell into tears, dismissed myself and drove straight to my son’s daycare and took him home.  In 2008 our area was captive to a large swarm of earthquakes spanning over many months.  I lived on the other side of town and never actually felt any of them until about 3 in the morning on April 25th  – it almost pushed me out of bed, I jumped up and checked the homepage on my computer (USGS) noting it was a 4.7 – the largest one of the swarm.  I didn’t go back to bed that night.


I won’t go into a room without first checking to see where I will hide should a quake hit.  If I’m on a floor other than ground level and someone runs to fast I freeze to make sure it isn’t a quake.  It really sucks.



I prep because I have kids.  I’m not too excited about the possibility of an economic collapse, nor war issues with any number of countries.  One of the things that was really easy getting my kids into was earthquake prep. My son is almost 13 and has been open to prepping for some time now but my daughter is only 10 and when I talk about economic collapse or war she starts to cry – she handles earthquake prep really well and I think it’s because she knows what to do and it’s easy.  We live in a seismic hot zone.  We are just a mere two hundred miles away from theSan Andreas Fault.  Our area has more faults thanCaliforniaand we are just waiting for the “big one”.


Beyond the food, water, ammo and first aid items, stored by myself and my husband incase of larger scale country/worldwide issues, these are some in-home preps that I have taken upon myself to do:


1.)    Both of my children’s beds are away from any shelving, whether it be hung on the wall or a large bookshelf.  I don’t want items falling on either of my children in the middle of the day or night.

2.)    Neither of my children’s beds are next to their windows.  If the shaking is strong enough, fast enough, or comes in “waves” the glass could break which spells disaster.  I also don’t want them to have to walk through potential glass to get to their safe spots.

3.)    When they sleep they are within “rolling off the bed” distance from their desks. This way if they are awoken from a dead sleep they will need to use minimal brain cells to remember their training and roll onto the floor and duck right under the desks – I always make sure the desk chair is kitty-corner so it is not in the way.

4.)    They always have an earthquake blanket rolled under their desk – this is the blanket they are to grab and cover themselves with while they hide if an earthquake hits.  They know they are NOT allowed to hide in a doorway or run into the hallway screaming.


Here is our action plan:


1.)    If I am not home when an earthquake strikes they are to get under the dining table or their desks (whichever is closest) and STAY there until they get a phone call from me or I get home. They know that aftershocks don’t make appointments and just because the initial quake is over doesn’t mean they are safe.

2.)    If I am home when an earthquake strikes we spring into action as soon as it stops.  My daughter fills up the bathtub and as many spare containers of water as she can.  My son flushes both toilets and we grab my husband’s water barrel from the garage and fill it to the brim with a garden hose.  I shut off the gas.


In two out of four of my earthquake experiences, I was not at home.  I was not of driving age during the high school earthquake and both of my parents worked well over 20 miles from my school.  When the quake hit while I was at work, I was just over 10 miles from my son’s day care.  What if the quakes had been worse and the roads impassable?  How would my parents have gotten to me and how would I have gotten to my son?

This leads me to my newest prep and one that I am very excited about (and very late on) – our get home bags.  I’ve already got bug out bags set and ready to go along with food and water that I can toss into my husband’s jeep should we need to leave our home after a severe earthquake but all of that does me no good if we are not home.


I’m not going to go over what I plan to put in them since the subject has been talked about time and time again and everybody’s bag is different according to their situation and where they live.   If a quake hits again, I plan to drive to my children’s schools or home like the proverbial bat out of hell.  I work less than 2 miles from all three of those locations and believe you me, if a bad quake hits and roads are impassable, I will break out those tennis shoes and run.  I have one major street to cross and then it’s through a park, a school playground and BAM, I’m where I need to be.  The husband however works about 10 miles away from home. If he takes the shortcut home on foot, he’s crossing the freeway and some very busy and populated areas.  His get home back will contain more than mine, perhaps a fold up bike?


If someone you love hasn’t started prepping yet or if you are not sure how to get your kids involved, start small, find out what kind of natural disasters your area is prone to or if your loved one experienced something as a child use it to your advantage and hone in on it – that just might end up being the talk that will save someone’s life by getting prepped for the unexpected.


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6 thoughts on “Guest Post: Why I Prepare?”

  1. Putting risks into perspective is important. Your risk of dying in an earthquake varies dramatically depending on where you live, but in general in the U.S. it is about 1 in 30 million. Your risk of dying from a disease which you can immunize yourself from with a vaccine is about 20 in 100,000. If we didn’t have vaccines at all the risk would be roughly 1 in 2. (Yes indeed 100 years ago about half the children born died before their 5th birthday from childhood diseases that we now immunize against.)

  2. Jennifer, thanks for sharing with us with this simple but detailed plan. I think it is very helpful because it’s based on real experience.

  3. Don’t take survival tips from amateurs like this author, it might get you killed.

    Just one example as there are too many to list…
    Don’t hide under a table in an earthquake, low survival probability… google “triangle of life” and start learning real survival skills.

    • Oz –

      For years getting under a table was the standard technique as to what to do in an earthquake.

      I think your being a bit too harsh.


  4. Oz – I am only mildly insulted by your comment and Thank you Rourke for your help. To Oz and other readers – please DO look up the triangle of life. It is a newer theory than the “under the table” however the statistic rate for survival is not as good.

    I am well aware that a table can crash on top of you after the force of a ceiling crashes on you however the triangle of life leaves you open on the top and you have to hope that falling objects fall just right to give you your “triangle”.

    You can live either way and you can die either way. They are both very good theories and they both have decent survival rates – one thing that IS outdated is the “doorway” escape – houses are no longer built with extra support in doorways (I think that stopped somewhere in the 80’s) – so never run for the doorway.

    Oz – we are here to give other readers ideas, education and in some cases, support and reasons for prepping. We all welcome extra thoughts to our posts but I think it would be appreciated by all readers if it were constructive and tactful rather than bashing and condescending.

    In the end, I’d like readers to look up both theories and come to their own end conclusions, after all, keeping an open mind is a huge part of prepping.


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