Earthquake Preparedness And Safety
Earthquakes can strike at any time without warning. The best way to be prepared for an earthquake is to educate yourself on what to do before, during and after the event.
Below are some safety tips created by a coalition of more than 20 national agencies including the including the American Red Cross, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Geological Survey. More detailed information can be found at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/earthquake .
If you are at risk from earthquakes, you should:
- Discuss with members of your household the possibility of earthquakes and what to do to stay safe if one occurs.
- Pick "safe places" in each room of your home and your office or school.
- Practice drop, cover and hold on in each safe place.
- Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
- Talk with your insurance agent about earthquake protection.
- Inform guests, babysitters and caregivers of earthquake plans.
- Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
- Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
- Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
- Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets.
- Secure large items that might fall and break.
- Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products securely in closed, latched metal cabinets.
- Evaluate animal facilities and places your pets like to hide, to ensure that any hazardous substances or structures are as safe as possible.
- Consider having your building evaluated by a professional structural design engineer.
- Follow local seismic building standards and land use codes.
If you are inside when the shaking starts, you should:
- Drop, cover and hold on.
- If you are elderly or have a mobility impairment, remain where you are, bracing yourself in place.
- If you are in bed, stay there, hold on and protect your head with a pillow.
- Stay away from windows.
- Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.
- Be aware that fire alarm and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.
If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should:
- Find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights and power lines.
- Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops.
- If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.
- If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris.
When the shaking stops, you should:
- Expect aftershocks.
- Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary before helping injured or trapped persons.
- Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves.
- Look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
- Listen to a portable, battery-operated radio or television.
- Check the telephones in your home or workplace.
- Look for and extinguish small fires.
- Clean up spilled medications, bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids.
- Open closet and cabinet doors cautiously.
- Help people who require special assistance.
- Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines.
- Watch animals closely.
- Stay out of damaged buildings.
- If you were away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe.