Get Ready: Prepare your home for disaster

Get Ready: Prepare your home for disaster »Play Video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A major earthquake struck Kern County in the early 1950s, but what would happen if the same thing happened today?

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According to Department of Conservation scientists, it will be critical to have the right answer to that question in California at some point in the coming years. Many people think having bottled water on hand is a good idea. That's true, as long as you have enough.

Many are certain that standing in a doorway during the shaking is a good idea. That's false, unless you live in an unreinforced adode structure; otherwise, you're more likely to be hurt by the door swinging wildly or trampled by people trying to hurry outside if you're in a public place.

But, what do you do if you're inside the comfort of your own home or apartment?

If you're in your home, stay there. Get under - and hold onto - a desk or table, or stand against an interior wall. Stay clear of exterior walls, glass, heavy furniture, fireplaces and appliances.

The kitchen is a particularly dangerous spot.

Electricity, water, gas and telephones may not be working after an earthquake. The police and fire departments are likely to be tied up. You should be prepared to fend for yourself for at least three days, preferably for a week.

It's also a good idea to decide beforehand how and where your family will reunite if separated during a quake and to conduct in-home practice drills. You might choose an out-of-the-area friend or relative that family members can call to check on you.

Securing water heaters, major appliances and tall, heavy furniture to prevent them from toppling are prudent steps. So, too, are storing hazardous or flammable liquids, heavy objects and breakables on low shelves or in secure cabinets.

After the earthquake has ended, you should check your home for fire or fire hazards. If you smell gas, shut off the main gas valve. If there's evidence of damage to electrical wiring, shut off the power at the control box.

Remember, an earthquake can strike at any moment and it is important to review these steps before the next major earthquake hits Kern County.