Motivating household preparedness for earthquakes can be difficult, especially given the infrequent and varying nature of major events. Past research has shown that people's experiences contribute to their beliefs about whether, and how, they should prepare for earthquakes. Direct experience of a disaster can be a strong motivator of preparedness; however, most people will not directly experience a large damaging earthquake in their lifetimes. They instead need to rely on experience of small earthquakes, experience of different disasters, adverse life experiences (e.g. accidents), or vicarious experience. This paper explores the influence of such experiences on earthquake preparedness. The research found that experience has seven different influences on the preparedness process including: prompting thinking and talking; raising awareness and knowledge; helping individuals understand the consequences of a disaster; developing beliefs; developing preparedness; influencing emotions and feelings; and prompting community interaction on disaster issues.