In 1992 I was living in the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree CA when the Landers (Joshua Tree) 6.1 earthquake hit. This was followed three days later by a 6.5 quake in Big Bear CA. I remember it vividly and just wanted to share some memories because it became clear to me what really mattered at that time. The quake was the type that rolls and wobbles then shook violently. It was late at night and my first instinct was to jump out of bed and run to my screaming 5-year-old. I was surprised how the motion of the quake threw me from side to side into walls, and I was very off balance. Windows cracked, and walls got little faint cracks as well. I remember how bizarre it seemed to me that my hanging plants were swaying wildly in the moonlight. I distinctly remember how loud it was and at the time I didn’t know what was making all that noise. After the shaking stopped I carefully began to check the house out. I carried my child with me as I found a flashlight and my shoes and began to survey the damage. I quickly thought of a friend of mine who was home alone with her 4 kids and I abandoned my survey to go check on her. I walked down the street and some of my neighbors were out checking on each other and looking stunned. I found that my terrified friend was “hiding” huddled in a storage closet with her kids. She was crying and very upset. We decided we would stay together so, her and the kids came back to my house with me. A few small aftershocks happened which freaked the children out. But eventually, we got them to go to sleep. In the morning, I could not believe the damage. It became apparent that all the noise was the things in my house moving, bouncing, and shaking. Drawers bounced open and the contents shook out all over the floor. My refrigerator “walked” across the floor and unplugged itself and tipped into the kitchen counter top. Decorative items flew off shelves smashing all over the floor. My small fish aquarium flew off its shelf and was reduced to a pile of broken glass, soaking the carpet and killing the fish. There was no electricity for 4 days. Thankfully, where I lived, we had running water restored by the next day. I felt lucky because some people lost their entire home. Mine just needed to be cleaned up and some mirror repairs. What did I learn from all this? Well, I was young and at that time, being prepared meant not running out of milk for the kids and having a flashlight. However, I did learn a few things that I will share. These may be basic things for most, but having been put to a real test, it’s what stands out in my mind: 1. Toilet paper – I know it may seem weird, but nervous frightened people, especially kids have to go…allot. Note to self: stock up on that TP! 2. Shoes – I know, basic stuff, but keep your shoes by the bed. Every night. No exceptions. 3. Keep a flashlight by the bed as well. Keep one in every room. 4. Strap your stuff to the wall. Refrigerators, shelves etc. become VERY dangerous in a major earthquake. 5. Be prepared to help others. People seemed lost, wandering and in shock. Be prepared for that reality. 6. When it comes right down to it, “stuff” is all just reduced to rubble in a big earthquake. I decided then to not spend money on “stuff” that is useless and that I will just be stepping on later. I use what money I have on things that help me, not get in my way. While we would maybe rather not think of it, “the big one” IS coming. No matter where you live you are pretty much guaranteed that you could experience a major earthquake at any time.