Step 7: Reconnect and Recover

Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community.

In the days and weeks that follow a big earthquake, your family, friends and neighbors can come together to start the process of recovery.

Once you have dealt with urgent and immediate needs after an earthquake, continue to follow the plan you prepared in advance. Aftershocks will continue to happen for several weeks after major earthquakes. Some may be large enough to cause additional damage. Always be ready to drop, cover, and hold on.

Following a major disaster, communication will be an important step in your recovery efforts. Turn on your portable radio for information and safety advisories. If your home is damaged, contact your insurance agent right away to begin your claims process. For most Presidentially declared disasters, resources will also be available from federal, state, and local government agencies.

Your recovery period can take several weeks to months or longer. Take the actions listed below to be safe and to minimize the long-term effects of the earthquake on your life.


The first days after the earthquake...

Use the information you put together in your disaster plan and the supplies you organized in your disaster kits. Until you are sure there are no gas leaks, do not re-enter your home. Also, do not use open flames (lighters, matches, candles, or grills) or operate any electrical or mechanical device that can create a spark (light switches, generators, motor vehicles, etc.). Never use the following indoors: camp stoves, gas lanterns or heaters, gas or charcoal grills, or gas generators. These can release deadly carbon monoxide or be a fire hazard in aftershocks.

Following aftershocks, continue to check for gas leaks, chemical spills, damaged electrical wiring and broken water pipes.

  • Take pictures of any damage to your property and home.
  • Contact your insurance agent or company right away to begin your claims process. Keep records of any repair or cleaning costs.
  • Check on the condition of your neighbors, especially those who are seniors or disabled.

Be in communication

  • Monitor local radio or television reports about where to get emergency housing, food, first aid, clothing and financial assistance.
  • Place all phones back on their cradles.
  • Update your out-of-area contact, tell them your status, then stay off the phone. Emergency responders need to use the phone lines for lifesaving communications.

Food and water

  • If power is off, plan meals to use up refrigerated and frozen foods first. If you keep the door closed, food in your freezer may be good for a couple of days. Save canned goods for later.
  • Listen to your radio for safety advisories.
  • If your water is off or unsafe, you can drink from water heaters, melted ice cubes, or canned vegetables. Avoid drinking water from swimming pools or spas.
  • Do not eat or drink anything from open containers that are near shattered glass.