Preparing for Earthquakes
Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and
without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance
planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an
BEFORE Check for hazards in the home.
Identify safe places in each room.
- 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.
Locate safe places outdoors.
- Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk 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.
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
Contact your local emergency management office or
American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes.
Have disaster supplies on hand.
Develop an emergency communication plan.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Portable battery-operated radio and extra
- First aid kit and manual
- Emergency food and water
- Non-electric can opener
- Essential medicines
- Cash and credit cards
- Sturdy shoes
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.
DURING If indoors:
- Take cover under a piece of heavy furniture or
against an inside wall and hold on.
- 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.
If in a moving vehicle:
- Move into the open, away from buildings,
street lights, and utility wires.
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking
Pets after an Earthquake
- Stop quickly and stay in the vehicle.
- Move to a clear area away from buildings,
trees, overpasses, or utility wires.
- Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with
caution. Avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the quake.
AFTER Be prepared for aftershocks.
- The behavior of pets may change dramatically
after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become
aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in
a fenced yard.
- Pets may not be allowed into shelters for
health and space reasons. Prepare an emergency pen for pets in the home that
includes a 3-day supply of dry food and a large container of water.
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. Call for help.
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.
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.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- 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.
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
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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