The diagram above shows how a building may be earthquake-proofed.
The three Ps provide the key to trying to reduce the impact of earthquakes.
Prediction involves trying to forecast when an earthquake will happen. Japan tries to monitor earth tremors with a belief that warning
can be given, but this did not happen at Kobe. Foreshocks do occur, but on a timescale useful to evacuation. Experts know where earthquakes are likely to happen, but struggle to establish when. Even looking at the time between earthquakes in a particular area does not seem to work. Similarly, experts struggle to pinpoint exactly where along a plate margin they will occur. Animal behaviour has been used in the past
Protection involves building to an appropriate standard and using designs to withstand movement.
Preparation involves hospitals, emergency services and inhabitants practising for major disasters, including having drills in public buildings and a code of practice so that people know what to do to reduce the impact and increase their chance of survival.
Video showing how to prepare for an earthquake – http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/preparing-for-earthquakes/5723.html