Time to prepare your home for an earthquake?

Here's what happens to unreinforced masonry buildings when the ground starts shaking.Wouldn’t it be a major drag if that new giant TV came tumbling down during an earthquake? Or the top of that finely crafted hutch? Or if your house hopped off its foundation?

The planet seems to be in an uproar lately. We’re not likely to suffer through a typhoon, hurricane, tornado, volcano or tsunami. But an earthquake? Yeah, that’s our natural disaster (along with fires, floods and landslides).

Rather than blogging about it after a SoCal earthquake hits, I’d thought I’d get a head start and blog about it in advance.

The Southern California Earthquake Center — a collaboration between the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey — has put together a free online earthquake preparedness booklet titled Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country.

And the center offers Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety. They are:

1. Secure it now: That includes televisions, computers, bookcases and water heaters.
2. Make a plan: This is good for an earthquake or a terrorist attack, the guide says.
3. Make disaster kits: We’re talking food, water, flashlights, portable radios, batteries, a first aid kit, cash, extra medications, a whistle, fire extinguisher, etc.
4. Is your place safe? Things to check include: inadequate foundations, unbraced cripple walls, soft first stories, unreinforced masonry and vulnerable pipes.
5. Drop, cover and hold on! Why not practice?
6. Check it out: What to look for when the shaking stops. And I know from a lifetime in earthquake country that the shaking does stop.
7. Communicate and recover: Thank goodness for cellphones and wireless Internet, eh? Back in 1933, when the above photo was taken, this step was a lot more difficult.

Also: A forecast of California earthquakes

(Photo: Southern California Earthquake Center)