Americans Should Learn to Be Prepared for Earthquakes

VIDEO: How to Survive and Earthquake
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ABC News' Yunji de Nies stood inside what looked like a typical living room in a typical house today, but the interview she was conducting was anything but typical.

Watch "World News with Diane Sawyer" for more on this story tonight on ABC.

She went inside an earthquake simulator today to see what it's like to experience a quake inside of a home. While the ground was shaking under her feet, books and furniture fell all around her.

Dran Reese, the CEO of ReadyAmerica.com, quickly pushed her underneath a table.

"Wow, that was so strong, and I didn't know what to do," said de Nies. "What is the right thing?"

"Well, exactly what I tried to do, which is to push you underneath there," said Reese.

The simulated quake was only a 6.8, 158 times less powerful than what hit Japan. Still, there were important lessons to be learned.

"I could feel those things falling off the shelf and hitting me," said Reese. "So the first thing you want to do is get someplace safe."

She added that the objects in your home can be deadly.

"They become your enemies in an earthquake," she said. "They fall, and they can cause injury and damage."

"Stay where you are and ride it out," said Reese. "You find the safest place in a room and just take cover, drop cover and take hold."

Communities Prepare for Quake

Being prepared pays off.

In California, earthquakes are an ever-present threat. The state holds earthquake drills where schoolchildren have to dive under their desks while first responders search for would-be victims.

In Japan, they did the same thing: They dove for cover as the 9.0 quake rattled around them.

Surviving is the No. 1 priority for victims who face the devastation of an earthquake, but living through the aftermath is as big of a concern. Imagine having no access to water, electricity or communication.

The essentials are water, preferably in pouches that will keep it fresh for up to five years, non-perishable foods, a first-aid kit, flashlights, batteries, a hand-cranked radio and a stash of cash.

Above all, everyone should prepare for an earthquake and practice those drills now. You never know when disaster may hit.

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