November Quake is a Wakeup Call

Posted: January 1, 2019

By Michael Rovito

This chart shows the location of recent earthquakes in Alaska.

Life was humming along normally the morning of November 30 when the Earth decided to remind south central Alaskans the importance of preparedness.

At 8:29 a.m., a 7.0-magnitude earthquake—with its epicenter 7 miles north of downtown Anchorage—shook the region violently, flinging items from shelves and damaging homes, schools and roads.

Seismologists called the quake the worst since the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday Earthquake of 1964, which devastated Anchorage and triggered a deadly tsunami that struck Valdez.

Though Alaska experiences more than 40,000 earthquakes a year—most too small to feel—the timespan between large temblors can cause even the hardiest prepper to become complacent.

Since it’s not a matter of if but when another large earthquake hits Alaska, residents should prepare for the worst. Even if your house is structurally sound after an earthquake, utilities may be down for an undetermined length of time. That can be dangerous during the dark, cold days of Alaska’s winter.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website is an excellent resource of preparedness information. Here are some tips to consider before, during and after an earthquake.


  • Secure items such as televisions, bookcases and other heavy items with earthquake hooks or straps. Make sure water heaters have functional earthquake straps.
  • Practice drop, cover and hold on with your family and co-workers. Make sure everyone knows what to do the moment the shaking begins.
  • Prepare a supply kit with enough water to last for three days. Also include food, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher and a whistle. Have extra batteries and charging capabilities.
  • Have a plan for your pets.


  • Drop, cover and hold on. Drop to your hands and knees, cover your head and neck, and hold on to something sturdy. If it’s safe to crawl to a better location, do so on your hands and knees.
  • If you are in bed, stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow.
  • If you are in a vehicle, stop in a clear area away from buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
  • Watch for falling rocks and landslides.
  • Pay attention to all emergency instructions.


  • Expect aftershocks to follow an earthquake. These can last for days, weeks, months or even years.
  • Check for injuries and provide assistance if you are trained.
  • If your building is damaged, go outside and quickly move away from the building.
  • If you are somewhere that may experience a tsunami, go inland or get to higher ground immediately after the shaking stops.
  • Save your phone battery for emergency phone calls or texts.

Each disaster is different, so add to the above list what you think necessary. You should also know what to do if there is a natural gas leak in your house. Officials recommend immediately leaving the home if a gas leak is present (natural gas smells like rotting eggs) and calling 911 or the gas utility. If you know how to shut off the gas at the meter, it’s a good idea to do so after you have safely evacuated.

Living in Alaska comes with an abundance of positives: beautiful scenery, friendly people, unspoiled wilderness. But natural disasters are common. From deep cold snaps, to winter storms, windstorms, landslides and, of course, earthquakes, Alaskans should be ready for when Alaska rumbles.