All shook up

When my house started shaking on Tuesday, I picked up my daughter and ran away from the sliding glass doors. Then, my mind stopped.

I could not remember anything I have ever learned about earthquakes or emergency preparedness. I vaguely remember starting to run up the stairs, then opening the front door and finally just standing in the living room like an idiot.

I live on the East Coast and this week’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook me up. After all my years living in Utah waiting for the “big one,” it’s funny that I experience my first earthquake across the country.

I admit it was scary. It was scary not knowing when it would end or even what it was until the news reports started coming in. It was scary not being able to get hold of my husband. But the most terrifying thing was to be holding my 4-year-old daughter and having no idea what to do or how to protect her.

So, I’ve been spending the last few days updating my 72-hour-kits and refreshing myself on how to respond in certain disasters. Most importantly, my husband and I have discussed our family emergency plan. We had one before, but now that I know I become a blathering moron in an emergency, I have written down our plan. The plan, along with the address for our meeting place and an out-of-state contact phone number, are now safely tucked inside my 72-hour-kit.

Fortunately, Tuesday’s earthquake was mild in terms of lasting damage. But I never want to be so mentally ill prepared again.

How has your family prepared for possible emergencies? What do you think are the most important things to have on hand or in your emergency plan?

(On a related note, check out and register for Utah’s statewide earthquake drill. The Great Utah ShakeOut will be April 17 and is a great way to put your family’s emergency plan to the test.)

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister’s nose.

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