Earthquake Preparedness

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An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock. Since it is impossible to predict when an earthquake will occur, it is important that you and your family are prepared ahead of time.

-What to do before an earthquake

-What to do during an earthquake

-What to do after an earthquake


What to do Before and Earthquake

Step 1: Get a Kit

Get an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car. This kit should include:

Copies of prescription medications and medical supplies;

Bedding and clothing, including sleeping bags and pillows;

Bottled water, a battery-operated radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a flashlight;

Copies of important documents: driver’s license, citizenship papers, insurance policies, wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, tax records, etc.

 

Step 2: Make a Plan

Prepare Your Family

Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.

It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.

Be sure to consider the specific needs of your family members

Notify caregivers and babysitters about your plan.

Make plans for your pets

 

Step 3: Be Informed

Prepare Your 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.

Brace overhead light fixtures.

Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.

Secure a 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.

Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.

Identify Safe Places indoors and outdoors like under sturdy furniture or against an inside wall away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.

Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency by visiting: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/emergency/index.html

Listen to Local Officials

Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.

 

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.

 

If outdoors Stay there.

  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many fatalities occur when people run outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
  • If in a moving vehicle
  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

 

If trapped under debris

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

 

What to Do After an Earthquake

Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.

Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.

Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.

Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.

Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.

Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.

Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.

Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.

Inspect utilities.

Check 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. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.

Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

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