I know. I was there.
I rushed home from the pool where I was teaching swimming lessons, using back streets to avoid the lock-ups in traffic. Luckily, I lived in the mostly residential Sunset District, an area close to my work. I flew into the house, calling for my cats, expecting them to greet me at the door as usual.
They were nowhere to be found.
There was, however, a great deal of glass on the floor, and I was barefoot and wearing a wet bathing suit.
Fear clutched my heart. Where were my babies?
I tiptoed through the glass, calling, looking under furniture. I finally got to my bedroom, and there they were, two sets of wide-open eyes in the darkness of the closet, peeking out at me.
They were as happy to see me as I was to see them.
However, they would not come out of the closet.
I thought they just needed to calm down, so I changed into dry clothes, put on my shoes and began to clean up the glass.
And then the shaking started again. I stood in the doorway of my bedroom, bracing myself, and saw my kitties duck deeper into the closet. After two more aftershocks, they finally emerged to greet me, unscathed and more worried about me than I was about them.
I decided the worst was over, since Felix perched on his favorite windowsill perch for a bath and Lucky helped me clean up the rest of the glass.
So here are my tips for surviving an earthquake with your furry friend:
1. Leave a closet door open when you are not at home. My cats were able to take cover when they needed to, and at the very least it saved them from being hurt by broken glass. It likely gave them some comfort, too.
2. Do not give your pets tap water after a quake. It may be contaminated. Be sure to keep a stock of bottled water for you and for them.
3. Keep a supply of pet food as well. We did not have access to grocery shopping for two to three days, and I was glad I was stocked up.
4. Throw out any pet food or water that was sitting out during the quake. There might be shards of glass in there. Thoroughly wash the bowls before refilling them.
5. If your pet requires medications, keep a supply of those as well.
6. Reassure your pets with lots of love and attention. They may not verbalize it like humans, but they feel stress and anxiety too. Plus, you get the benefit of their comforting presence!
7. Above all, pay attention to your pets. They definitely have a sixth sense about oncoming earthquakes, and you can get yourself and them into a safer place if you are forewarned.
KR Johnson is an award-winning speaker, longtime educator and advocate for kids and improvisational theater performer. She is the author of The Eleventh Sense, the hilarious journey of Simon, who must find his mother’s killer with the help of the most unusual, and annoying, bunch of friends ever, available on amazon.com.