You can inexpensively safeguard the interior of your house so things don’t move or fall in an earthquake, preventing injury to your family and preventing damage and risk of fire to your home. Use straps, clips, screws, putty and more, and make sure to secure shelves to walls.

During an emergency, the normal use of your household utilities may be affected, and how you deal with your utilities will become critical.

Electrocution can result from direct contact with live wires or anything that has been energized by these wires. Locate your main electric switch, which is normally in the garage or outdoors. The panel box may have a flip switch or pull handle on a large circuit breaker.

Shut off electricity when:

  • Arcing or burning occurs in electrical devices.
  • There is a fire or significant water leak.
  • You smell burning insulation.
  • The area around switches or plugs is blackened and/ or hot to the touch.
  • A complete power loss is accompanied by the smell of burning material.

For more information, contact Tillamook People’s Utility District at 503-842-2535 or 800-422-2535.

Leaks can cause property damage and create an electrocution hazard.

After a major earthquake, shut off your water supply to protect the water in your house. Cracked pipes may allow contaminants into the water supply in your home.

The water shutoff is usually located in the basement, garage or where the water line enters the home. The water shutoff is located on a riser pipe and is usually a red or yellow wheel. Turn wheel clockwise to shut off.

In addition, to prepare for an earthquake, strap your water heater to a stud in the wall.

For more information, contact

A disaster that disrupts all or part of the city’s water and/or sewer lines could affect the way you deal with human waste.

If there is no water in your toilet, but the sewer lines are intact, pour 3-5 gallons of water into the toilet bowl to flush. You may use seawater, bath, laundry or pool water.

If you suspect damage to your home’s water lines, do NOT flush the toilet. Turn off water at the house so contaminated water does not enter your water system.

If sewer lines are broken, line bowl with double-bagged garbage bags to collect waste. Before discarding, add a small amount of bleach; then seal the bag and place in a tightly covered container, away from people.

If the toilet is unusable, we recommend using a five-gallon bucket with a tight-fitting lid, lined with a double-bagged plastic garbage bag.

Gas leaks can cause fires and explosions inside a building.

If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line or if you suspect a leak, shut off the main valve at the tank and open all windows and doors.

Never use candles or matches if you suspect a leak. Do not turn on electrical switches or appliances.

Identify the main shutoff valve on your tank.

Keep any tool required to shut off tank valve permanently tethered nearby.

Have your interior propane lines and appliance checked before opening the tank valve.

Do not use your telephone, cell phone, garage door opener or even a flashlight.

Do not smoke, use a lighter or strike a match.

Do not start or stop nearby vehicles or other machinery.

Plan for how you will communicate with loved ones after a disaster.

Long-distance phone lines often work before local phone lines, so identify an out-of-state contact and provide this person with the contact information of people you want to keep informed of your situation. Share this information with your family and friends locally.

Avoid making non-urgent phone calls after a disaster — even if phone lines are undamaged, increased phone traffic can jam phone circuits.
Cordless phones or phone systems require electricity; make sure you have a backup phone that requires no electricity.

Keep coins in your GoBag. Pay phones may work before other phone lines.

Don’t count on your cell phone — increased traffic on cell phone networks can quickly overload wireless capacity.

Record an outgoing message on your voicemail so that callers can be reassured of your safety status.

Learn how to use text messaging. It uses a different part of the cell phone network and it might be possible to send and receive text messages when voice channels for mobile phones and land lines are jammed.

After an earthquake, check all your telephones to be sure they have not shaken off the hook, tying up a line.

Consider purchasing a flexible solar panel that can power at least a cell phone or iPad, or a larger that can power a computer.