How to Be Prepared  for a  Disaster

This summer's earthquakes are an important reminder that disasters can happen at any time. Being prepared for a disaster - or the next big one - is critical. This time we were lucky in Santa Monica, but next time we may not be.   

Start now by following these steps to being prepared for a disaster or the next earthquake.  

5 Steps to Being Prepared for a Disaster

October 18, 2018 is the Great California ShakeOut, an opportunity for all Californians to practice earthquake safety actions.

Most Californians know that in an earthquake, they should Drop, Cover and Hold On. Drop to the ground, take cover under a table, and hold on to the leg of the table until the shaking stops. But what happens after the shaking?

There is no advance warning for earthquakes. 

Californians should be prepared for a disaster before the shaking starts. Just like a wildfire or hurricane, your level of personal and neighborhood preparedness will contribute to your safety and quality of life in the days that follow.

Building a household disaster kit is the first step. Make it easy and inexpensive. Create a family scavenger hunt to gather items for your kit. Manage costs by buying an extra gallon of water, canned food, or package of batteries each time you go to the grocery store.

Here are some basic items to include in your kit. When you’re finished, put the items in an old suitcase or backpack. Then check your kit and change any expired items at least twice a year. For more disaster kit information, visit

STEP 2: Make an Emergency Action Plan

Prepare yourself and your loved ones for an earthquake by finding earthquake-safe locations in your home and workplace where you can “Drop, cover and hold on!”

Know the hazards in your specific neighborhood. Use CalOES My Hazards tool to check the earthquake and tsunami risks in your neighborhood.

This is also a great resource for directions on how to prevent earthquake damage inside your home.  In case you are apart from your family members, roommates or friends during an earthquake, have two locations where your family could meet if you had to evacuate your home or if you had to evacuate your neighborhood. Ensure all individuals are familiar with these locations. 

In a major earthquake event, you and your neighbors are the first responders.

The Office of Emergency Management, in partnership with the American Red Cross, has launched a program called Map Your Neighborhood to help apartment buildings or neighborhood blocks create disaster plans for the first hour after a disaster.

STEP 3: Sign up for SM Alerts  

SM Alerts allows the City of Santa Monica to provide you with critical information in an emergency situation.  When a natural disaster, police activity, or other emergency requires you to act to protect yourself and your family, you'll receive texts, emails or phone calls that let you know what to do.   

You may register as many devices as you like to receive SM Alerts - home, mobile, or business phone, email, text messages, and hearing-impaired receiving devices. To receive SM Alerts for your home or business, visit and register for “emergency” alerts.

Residents and businesses may also register for Public Safety notices that provide situational awareness on immediate safety concerns in our community. 

STEP 4: Connect on Social Media

After an earthquake, it may be difficult to access information through traditional channels. In addition to receiving SM Alerts, please follow us on social media to ensure you receive the most up to date information during and after a disaster.   

In major earthquakes, internet and phone service may be temporarily unavailable. Please be sure to have a radio in your disaster kit. After a major disaster event, Santa Monica Emergency Operations Centers will broadcast critical information using Santa Monica AM 1680.  

STEP 5: Support Your Community  

The Santa Monica Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a community-based group of volunteers that have completed a federally recognized training course taught by Santa Monica public safety personnel and first responders. The training is a comprehensive program detailing ways to assist family, friends, neighbors, and your community in small or large-scale disasters.

This training is free, and open to anyone that lives or works in Santa Monica, over the age of 18.  Once you've completed the CERT training, your effectiveness and contribution in a disaster depends on you.

Although there is no obligation, CERT was designed to enlist community members as a volunteer resource to assist City officials in a time of need.  Some examples of when CERT volunteers  may be activated include:  

  • A Citywide disaster  event  
  • Los Angeles Marathon  and other Santa Monica special events 
  • Additionally, CERT members may be called on to assist in Public Safety trainings, exercises, and incidents based on need  

For more information on how to register for the CERT course in August, please visit Santa Monica’s CERT page.  


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