Earthquake Safety Tips to Follow
Emergency Kit and Disaster Plan are Important
Earthquakes are not a frequent occurrence. However, they can be very disruptive because they occur suddenly and tend to affect large areas. Earthquakes can be a one-time event of a few seconds shaking or a series of events of varying duration.
Because earthquakes happen without warning, being prepared in advance is critical to minimize damages and loss. Consider these earthquake safety tips:
Before an Earthquake
- Know your risk. Research the area and find out if you live near an active fault line and whether or not the ground around you is more susceptible to the effects of an earthquake.
- Retrofit and reinforce your house. If you're in a high risk area, take steps to reinforce your house. Bolt your house to the foundation and reinforce support beams as needed. Secure any furniture such as bookshelves and cabinets to the walls to minimize risk of falling over during a quake. Secure cabinet doors to help keep dishes and other contents from falling out.
- Create a disaster plan to protect yourself and your family. Earthquake preparedness can help reduce anxiety and minimize injury. Know where to take cover in your house and how to communicate with other family members after the earthquake if you're not together. Designate a safe place to meet outside of the house after the shaking stops.
- Put together an emergency kit. Your kit should include non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, flashlights, camping supplies (stove, battery-powered lantern, etc.), extra batteries, blankets and any personal items you may need (medications, toiletries, clothing). If you have pets, make sure they also have adequate supplies. Plan for a week's worth of supplies for each person. You'll need at least four gallons of drinking water per person for a week.
During an Earthquake
- Stay away from windows and furniture that could potentially fall over. One of the biggest hazards during an earthquake is falling debris and furniture. Avoid areas in your house where you might be exposed to these hazards.
- Take cover in a safe place in your house. Get under a sturdy table or desk to avoid being hit by anything. If you can't take safe cover, protect your head and neck with your arms.
- Do not try and go outside until after the shaking stops. If you are already indoors, you are safer taking cover inside than attempting to leave your house during an earthquake you could be hit by falling debris as you're trying to get out.
After an Earthquake
- Be prepared for aftershocks. Earthquakes are often followed by aftershocks additional quakes that follow the main event. These can last for days or even weeks after a major earthquake.
- Check your gas lines and make sure there are no leaks. If you smell gas leaking, turn off the gas if possible and call the gas company. Do not use an open flame in your house until you are sure it is safe. Wait for the gas company to turn the gas back on.
- Check for damaged electrical wiring. Shut off the power if you see damaged wiring in your house.
- Keep your shoes on. You may have broken glass or spilled chemicals on the floor of your house as a result of the earthquake. Don't walk around barefoot until you're sure the floor is clean and safe.
- Document the damage. If your insurance policy covers earthquake damage, make sure you take photos or video of the damage to use in the claim process.
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Did You Know?
While major earthquakes are sometimes believed to be primarily a West Coast threat, there are 45 states and territories throughout the United States that are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes.
Federal Emergency Management Agency, www.ready.gov