Golden Gate Bridge

In 2003, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that there was a 62 percent chance that a magnitude of 6.7 or worse earthquake would strike the San Francisco region by 2032. See more pictures of natural disasters.

Connie Coleman/Getty Images

Whether you live in an earthquake-prone region like California or Japan or in calmer lands, the idea of everything around you shaking uncontrollably -- and potentially catastrophically -- can be terrifying.

There's a particular sense of helplessness that can accompany earthquakes, especially because there is no established scientific method of predicting them. With that in mind, preparation is the best defense.

If you reside in a place like California's Bay Area, where there are eight or more faults that could produce a serious earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 or worse, knowing how best to weather an earthquake is as essential as a Floridian's knowing what to do when a hurricane approaches [source: USGS].

With that in mind, we'll take a look at what to do before, during and after an earthquake in this article. From supplies to retrofitting to emergency communication, we'll cover it all. We'll also see whether duck and cover is indeed the best method and why Doug Copp's "Triangle of Life" technique has attracted so much controversy.

First, let's see how to secure your home.