Are you ready for the Big one? Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Knowing a few safety tips and identifying potential hazards ahead of time can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake.
What to do during an Earthquake ?
- Take cover under a piece of heavy furniture or against an inside wall and hold on. Use common sense, don’t take cover near places where glass could shatter, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over on you or your family.
- Stay inside.
- The most dangerous thing to do during the shaking of an earthquake is to try to leave the building because objects can fall on you.
- Move into the open, away from buildings, street lights, and utility wires.
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.
- If in a moving vehicle as quick as possible move to the side of the road and stop. Try to find a clear spot to stop that is away from buildings, trees, overpasses, or utility wires.
- Stay in the vehicle.
- Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution. Avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the quake.
What to do after an Earthquake ?
- Be prepared for aftershocks. Although smaller than the main shock, aftershocks cause additional
- damage and may bring weakened structures down. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
- Help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
- Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance–infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
- Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls. The emergency personal will be very busy, only use the telephone to notify of emergencies.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches or gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
- Open closet and cupboard doors cautiously.
- Inspect the entire length of chimneys carefully for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
INSPECTING UTILITIES IN A DAMAGED HOME
Check for gas leaks–If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
Look for electrical system damage–If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.
PREPARE FOR THE EMERGENCY BEFORE IT HAPPENS:
- Check for hazards in the home. Fasten shelves securely to walls.
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
- Secure the water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
- Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
- Identify safe places in each room.
- Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
- Against an inside wall.
- Locate safe places outdoors.
- In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.
- Make sure all family members know how to respond after an earthquake.
- Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
- Have disaster supplies on hand.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual
- Emergency food and water
- Non-electric can opener
- Essential medicines
- Sturdy shoes
DEVELOP AN EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLAN
In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.