No matter where you live or the time of year, it’s important to be prepared for any emergency situation. Here in California, there’s always the threat of wildfires, mudslides and earthquakes. It’s not really fun to think about these things but it’s better to be prepared so you don’t have to think about “what if.” That’s why I always recommend having these 10 items in case there’s an emergency, which I use, both at home and when I’m traveling.

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The Earthquake App That Tells You What You Need to Know
I now have a number of earthquake apps downloaded on my phone but that wasn’t always the case. Several years ago, I was at lunch in Manhattan Beach, CA when a 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck. I quickly whipped out my phone to see if I had an earthquake app downloaded, and when I saw that I didn’t, I searched for one. I quickly found QuakeFeed, which is the number one rated earthquake app on the iOS app store. It has a 4.7 rating (out of 5) and almost 70,000 reviews. It’s free and downloaded in seconds. Sure enough, at the top of the app’s earthquake list was a 5.3-magnitude quake off of California’s Channel Islands. I was able to share that information with the diners around me before the local news could report on the quake (one of the many TVs on in the restaurant was showing the local news). It was a relief knowing that the earthquake we’d felt wasn’t more powerful and that we could continue on with our lunch.

The Earthquake App That Warns Users Before an Earthquake Hits
One earthquake app I just downloaded after reading the news is MyShake. It turns out that there was just a magnitude 5.1 earthquake in Northern California a couple of days ago and thanks to the MyShake app, thousands of California residents were alerted in advance.

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According to CNBC: “The app, which was developed by the Berkeley Seismology Lab, alerted 95,000 devices of the earthquake up to 18 seconds before the quake, advising users to “drop, cover and hold on,” said officials from the California Office of Emergency Management and USGS. Since Tuesday’s alert, signups for the app have surged, with over 2 million registered phones, according to the app’s data page. Anyone can download the MyShake app, but the system is only fully operational in California, Oregon and Washington. You should receive alerts regardless of whether your phone is on “Do Not Disturb,” but the app will only let you know if a 3.5 magnitude earthquake or above is detected.”

MyShake is free and available on both iOS and Google Play and “alerts will not go out for all felt events, just damaging ones.”

If you’re wondering how the MyShake apps works, here’s a helpful video tutorial:

One Android user, Julianne Kapner, left a comment on the Google Play store saying: “The day after I downloaded it, this app warned me of an earthquake with enough time to get cover before I felt the shake, proving that this app does exactly what it’s supposed to do! No ads, no frills, just peace of mind. My only complaint is that my phone battery definitely doesn’t last as long with this app on. Totally worth it though! I don’t have issues with extra notifications (cited by some reviewers) because you can select the area you want notifications for by going into the settings.”

I realize it might drain my battery so I will be cognizant of that and will carry a portable charger (like I always keep in my carry-on bag – as do most flight attendants and frequent travelers). But I think it’s worth it if I can get an 18-second warning that a big quake is coming to get my kids and myself away from windows, shelves and anything else that might cause bodily harm.

How to Prepare For an Earthquake and What to Do
Almost every time I feel an earthquake, I think  “what should I do?” That’s why it’s important to reinforce the information, similar to how flight crew who are flying as passengers always listen to the safety videos; watch them next time you get on an airplane. They’ve been trained that even if you think you know what to do, your mind can go blank when you’re scared. Earthquakes can happen anywhere and I’ve experienced them in California, Fiji, Hawaii, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Washington D.C. and even in my childhood state of Connecticut. So if you’re unfamiliar with what to do, then here’s how to prepare for an earthquake and what to do.

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