With your tots constantly tearing through the house like a sugared-up freight train, you’re probably used to some shaking, rattling and rolling in the old homestead. But earthquakes are a whole other animal – just ask folks who remember the 1994 Northridge Quake all too well. Even though the looming threat of “The Big One” is very real in Southern California, a little education and preparedness can go a long way when it comes to alleviating your tikes’ fears. And we say what better time to finally get a proper kit and family plan together than a brand spanking new year? So drop, cover and hold on because we’ve got the whole shebang on getting your kiddos quake ready.

Earthquake Drill via Great Shakeout 2 on Facebook
Eduquake Your Tots
Some things are inherently terrifying – spiders, ghosts, missing the Barney’s Warehouse Sale (shudder). Earthquakes are no different, but with a little hands-on education you can help your kiddos deal with their fear before one occurs. LA’s California Science Center has some fabulous exhibits in their “Structures” section like a mini shake table where tikes can build structures and see if they hold up in a quake, as well as an earthquake simulator where they can feel tremors and learn how to better prepare for the real dealio. The Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana also offers a rocking good time for small fries when you check out their “Shake Shack” exhibit that simulates some of the most historic quakes on record, as well as a seismograph where kids can measure tremors.

Shake Shack at Discovery Science Center
Drop, Cover and Hold On
The three most important words you need to know during an earthquake. Hiding (and shrieking like a banshee) in the doorway is so last year. When a quake hits, you and your tots should immediately DROP to the ground, take COVER under a sturdy desk or table and HOLD ON until the shaking stops and it’s safe to come out. Repeat this same procedure for any aftershocks that may occur, as they can be nearly as strong as the original. If your family would like some real world practice participating in a statewide earthquake drill, be sure to check out The Great California ShakeOut next October 16th.

Drop Cover Hold On via Great Shakeout 3 on Facebook
Build a Kid-Friendly Kit
Take time now to put together an earthquake survival pack for your family. FEMA has a great, conclusive checklist of necessities you should have on hand in the event of a disaster. In addition to the things you’d expect to find – water, non-perishable foods, first-aid kit, batteries, pet supplies and so on, don’t forget items that will be equally as important to kiddos when they’re under stress. Things like a beloved teddy bear, cozy blankie, board games, puzzles, cards or their favorite bedtime books. Involve your entire brood in the kit collection by making it fun. Do a scavenger hunt where each family member tracks down items for the kit or have your little ones create a song or story that includes each piece of the pack. Recheck your kit a few times a year to make sure things haven’t passed their expiration dates and are still in working order.

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Make a Plan, Stan
You and your family won’t always be home when an earthquake strikes, much less together, so have a plan in place for a variety of scenarios. What is your child’s school’s disaster plan? Who will be responsible for picking up the kids? If you’re all at home, how will you get out safely after the shaking has stopped? Do you have set meeting spots if everyone is separated? Is your babysitter familiar with your family’s plan? Do you have an out-of-state point person everyone can contact in case you can’t reach each other locally? The Southern California branch of the American Red Cross has fantastic tips on creating a plan, as well as some special thoughts on helping kids deal with a disaster. They also have a free earthquake app that’s well worth a download.

What kind of plan does your brood have in place for dealing with an earthquake? We’d love to know in the comments below!

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–Jennifer O’Brien

Photo Credit: The Great California ShakeOut via Facebook, Discovery Science Center via Yelp and American Rugbier via Creative Commons