Frequently Asked Questions

About Earthquake Insurance

Some of your Questions:

Q. What emergency supplies do I need?

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Adequate supplies of medications that you or family members are taking
  • Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
  • First-aid kit and handbook
  • Flashlights with extra bulbs and batteries
  • Portable radio with extra batteries
  • Water for each family member for at least two weeks (allow at least 1 gallon per person per day) and purification tablets or chlorine bleach to purify drinking water from other sources
  • Canned and package foods, enough for several days and MECHANICAL can opener. Extra food for pets if necessary
  • Camp stove or barbecue to cook on outdoors (store fuel out of the reach of children)
  • Waterproof, heavy-duty plastic bags for waste disposal.

Q. What should I do during an Earthquake?

  • If you are INDOORS--STAY THERE! (Get under a desk or table and hang on to it, or move into a hallway or get against an inside wall. STAY CLEAR of windows, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances. GET OUT of the kitchen, which is a dangerous place (things can fall on you). DON'T run downstairs or rush outside while the bldg is shaking or while there is danger of falling and hurting yourself or being hit by falling glass or debris.
  • If you are OUTSIDE-- get into the OPEN, away from bldgs, power lines, chimneys, and anything else that might fall on you.
  • If you are DRIVING--stop, but carefully. Move your car as far out of traffic as possible. DO NOT stop on or under a bridge or overpass or under trees, light posts, power lines, or signs. STAY INSIDE your car until the shaking stops. When you RESUME driving watch for breaks in the pavement, fallen rocks, and bumps in the road at bridge approaches.
  • If you are in a MOUNTAINOUS AREA--watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees, and other debris that could be loosened by quakes.

Q. Things NOT to do during an Earthquake?

  • DO NOT turn on the gas again if you turned it off; let the gas company do it
  • DO NOT use matches, lighters, camp stoves or barbecues, electrical equipment, appliances UNTIL you are sure there are no gas leaks. They may create a spark that could ignite leaking gas and cause an explosion and fire
  • DO NOT use your telephone, EXCEPT for a medical or fire emergency. You could tie up the lines needed for emergency response. If the phone doesn't work send someone for help
  • DO NOT expect firefighters, police or paramedics to help you. They may not be available.

Q. What do I do after an earthquake?

  • WEAR STURDY SHOES
    to avoid injury from broken glass and debris. Expect aftershocks
  • CHECK FOR INJURIES
    If a person is bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound, use clean gauze or cloth if available
    If a person is not breathing administer CPR
    DO NOT attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in further danger of injury
    COVER injured persons with blankets to keep warm
    SEEK medical help for serious injuries
  • CHECK FOR HAZARDS
    Fire hazards--put out fires in your home or neighborhood immediately, call for help
    Gas leaks--shut off main gas valve ONLY if you suspect a leak because of broken pipes or odor
    Damaged electrical wiring--Shut off power at the control box if there is any danger to house wiring
    Downed or damaged utility lines--do not touch downed power lines or any objects in contact with them
    SPILLS--clean up any spilled medicines, drugs, or other harmful materials such as bleach, lye, gas
    DOWNED OR DAMAGED CHIMNEYS--Approach with caution--don't use damaged chimney (it could start fire or let poisonous gases into your house
    FALLEN ITEMS--beware of items tumbling off shelves when you open doors of closets and cupboards
    CHECK FOOD AND WATER SUPPLIES--Do not eat or drink anything from open containers near shattered glass
    If power is off, plan meals to use up foods that will spoil quickly or frozen foods (food in the freezer should be good for at least a couple of days
    Don't light your kitchen stove if you suspect a gas leak
    USE BBQ or camp stoves, outdoors only for emergency cooking
    If your water is off you can drink supplies from water heaters, melted ice cubes or canned vegetables (AVOID drinking water from swimming pools or especially spas--it may have too many chemicals in it to be safe.)

Q. What can I expect in my house when an Earthquake occurs? How do I identify it? What can be done?

The contents of your home may be damaged and can be dangerous:

  • Shaking can make light fixtures fall, refrigerators and other large items move across the floor, and bookcases and television sets topple over. IDENTIFY: Look around your house for things that could fall or move.
  • Ask yourself if your cupboard doors could fly open (allowing dishes to shatter on the floor).
  • Is TV and stereo fastened down and are shelves fastened to wall? Do you have hanging plants or light fixtures that might fall? Is there a heavy picture or mirror on the wall over your bed?

WHAT CAN BE DONE: You can install door latches, braces and fasteners to fix most of these hazards yourself.

Q. Why should people in the eastern US be concerned about earthquakes?

  • Severe earthquakes have occurred in the East:

In November of 1755, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 6.0 and a maximum intensity of VIII occurred about 50 miles northeast of Boston, Massachusetts. Boston was heavily damaged. Other strong earthquakes recorded in the continental US were centered in southeastern Missouri near the border with Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.  In the winter of 1811-1812, a series of three powerful earthquakes of magnitudes about 7.0 to 7.8 and hundreds of aftershocks occurred near New Madrid, Missouri. These shocks were so strong that observers reported that the land distorted into visible rolling waves. They changed the course of the Mississippi River, created a vast area of ground deformation and liquefaction features; and they were felt widely along the east coast of the U.S. 800 to 1000 miles away.  Because the surrounding area was mostly undeveloped at the time, few deaths were reported and these events stirred relatively little attention then. In August of 1886, a strong earthquake occurred in Charleston, South Carolina. Magnitude is estimated at 6.8 to 7.2. Much of the city of Charleston was damaged or destroyed. Earthquakes in the East are not confined to these areas; they have been recorded in every State east of the Mississippi. Damaging earthquakes have occurred historically in nearly every eastern State.

  • Earthquakes of the same magnitude affect larger areas in the East than in the West:

The size of the geographic area affected by ground shaking depends on the magnitude of the earthquake and the rate at which the amplitudes of body and surface seismic waves decrease as distance from the causative fault increases. Comparison of the areas affected by the same Modified Mercalli intensity of ground shaking in the 1906 San Francisco, California, the 1971 San Fernando, California, the 1811-12 New Madrid, Missouri, and the 1886 Charleston, South Carolina, earthquakes shows that a given intensity of ground shaking extends over a much larger area in the Eastern United States. Ground shaking affects a larger area because amplitudes of seismic waves decrease more slowly in the east than in the west as distance from the causative fault increases.

Q. What to do in the event of a claim

How to File a Homeowner Claim

Q. What tools are available to document personal belongings prior to a loss?

Be Smart. Take Part. Document and Insure Your Property