Earthquake Safety Lessons for Kids

by Cara Batema
Take cover under a piece of sturdy furniture during an earthquake.

Take cover under a piece of sturdy furniture during an earthquake.

An earthquake is not a joyous topic to share with your kids, but preparing them for such an event, especially if you live in an area prone to quakes, will help keep your family safe. If you make this serious subject more engaging for your preschooler, he’s much more likely to remember the lessons you taught him about earthquake safety. Don’t let lack of earthquake preparedness be your fault (no pun intended).

Hunting for Hazards

Put on a scavenger hunt for your preschooler to help you de-hazard your home. Prepare a list of things that might cause physical harm during an earthquake, such as a bed by a large window, unsecured cabinet doors, hanging plants in heavy pots, heavy objects on high shelves and even outdoor hazards, such as dead tree limbs that could fall on your house. Go hunting for these hazards, and work with your preschooler to make your home safer. For example, transfer a hanging plant to a lighter pot and move glass or heavy objects to a lower shelf.

Role Playing

Young children rarely have a firm grasp on the concept of time, so the 30 to 60 seconds an earthquake typically lasts can seem like an eternity, even to you. Perhaps the best way to prepare for an earthquake is to practice what to do during the time it occurs. First, find the best places to take cover in the event of an earthquake -- under large, heavy pieces of furniture, such as a sturdy table, or in a corner away from windows and bookshelves. Tell your preschooler to hold onto a table leg to make sure the table stays over him. Show him how to tuck his head into his chest and keep his eyes closed. Now comes the fun part -- role play by creating an earthquake-like scenario. Tell your preschooler to make siren noises, bark like a dog, stomp on the ground, knock books on the floor or shake the table. Demonstrate appropriate responses to the earthquake. Then it’s your turn to simulate the earthquake and let your preschooler show you what he learned. Set a timer for each scenario for 60 seconds.

Songwriting

Your preschooler won’t forget the “clean up” song as long as he lives, so give him another song to memorize to help him remember what to do during an earthquake. Pick one of his favorite tunes and rewrite the lyrics to reflect earthquake safety. Write about the steps “duck, cover and hold” or “find a safe place to go.” Use words to describe the feeling of the earthquake itself, such as “shimmy,” “shake” or “rumble.” Practice singing the tune with your preschooler.

Earthquake Preparedness Kit

Don’t let an earthquake catch you by surprise, and let your preschooler do some of the work for you. Ask your child, “What could we not live without?” The question will get him thinking of the things you need in your earthquake preparedness kit, such as water and food. Fill large plastic bottles with water and get cans of food that don’t need to be refrigerated or cooked. Ask your preschooler, “Where should we put these?” If he remembers from previous lessons, he’ll know to put them on a low shelf. Get a battery-powered radio and flashlight, along with some extra batteries. Don’t forget a change of clothes, extra blanket and a first aid kit. Place all these items into a waterproof bag and set alongside your water and food.

About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.

Photo Credits

  • Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images