Begin by making an assessment of your home, looking for all the things that might be thrown down when the house rocks and rolls during an earthquake. Bookcases, knick-knack shelves, entertainment centers, hutches, pictures hung on the wall, mirrors — and more. All that stuff is vulnerable to becoming shrapnel when it flies off its perch and lands on the floor.
The major problem with that is, if the quake happens at night while you're in bed, and you wake up and realize what's happening, and jump out of bed with bare feet — ouch!
But it's more than mere ouch. It's injury and infection and blood loss and muscle/tendon damage that can last a lifetime.
So the smart thing is to assess your home ahead of time, find the vulnerabilities, and take care of them now.
In our home, we have anchored things that I mentioned above, using butterfly bolts through the sheetrock, and L-brackets bolted to whatever unit we're securing. The next challenge is securing all the small items that belong on those shelves and hutches and whatnot.
For knick-knacks, we use a thin layer of museum putty (looks like a cross between Silly Putty and modeling clay) under each item to stick them in place on shelves. Larger items such as the TV or stereo system need to be bolted down with brackets to make sure they remain in place.
Mirrors that were once held to walls by small plastic brackets have now been upgraded to a full framework of decorative moulding. It not only looks better, but is now much more secure. And we've upgraded the picture frame hangers for the oil paintings my wife's mom created.
For the water heater, we used a length of metal strap wrapped around the unit like a belt and then bolted the strap to the wall.
Even with all that effort, a serious earthquake can still make a dangerous mess of your floor. For that reason, keep a pair of hard-soled shoes by your bed so you can slip your feet into their protection before evacuating the house in the middle of the night.
And since we're talking about the middle of the night…it's also a good idea to keep a flashlight within easy reach. And unless you want to flee the house naked except for your nice shoes, keep some appropriate clothing within reach as well.
Earthquakes give precious little warning, so it's best to live prepared all the time.