A severe earthquake is one of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature. An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock. This is caused by strains that have accumulated over time. Earthquakes give no warnings and can cause terrible damage.
I have been thinking about earthquakes lately and in doing some research, ran across some maps of earthquake prone areas. Here is the link, http://www.fema.gov/earthquake/earthquake-hazard-maps. As you can see earthquakes can occur in most states and seem to be occurring more frequently.
Here are some basic guidelines to help you prepare for a possible earthquaHke.
Before an Earthquake
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of an earthquake.
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- 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.
- Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures and top-heavy objects.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
- Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
- Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.
- Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
- Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
- Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
- Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
- Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.
If you are inside when the shaking starts, you should:
- Drop, cover, and hold on. Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. Most people
injured in earthquakes move more than ten feet during the shaking.
- If you are elderly or have 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. You are
less likely to be injured if you stay in bed.
- Broken glass on the floor can injure you. One of the most common injuries is cut feet. Keep a pair of shoes by your bed.
- Stay away from windows. Windows can shatter with such force that you can be injured
by flying glass even if you are several feet away.
- Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In buildings
in the United States, you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops. If
you go outside, move quickly away from the building to prevent injury from falling debris.
- Be aware that fire alarm and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings
during an earthquake, even if there is no fire. Check for and extinguish small fires,
and exit via the stairs, avoid elevators.
- If you are in a coastal area, drop, cover, and hold on during an earthquake and
then move immediately to higher ground when the shaking stops. Tsunamis (large
ocean waves) are often generated by earthquakes.
What if you are in an elevator?
- If you are in an elevator, you are probably better protected than most people. The elevator will not fall down the shaft, and nothing heavy can fall on you.
- If the power fails, the elevators will stop and lights will go off. Public Safety will respond as quickly as possible and advise you how rescue will occur.
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. Injuries can occur from
falling trees, streetlights, power lines, and building debris.
- If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location, stop, and stay there with your
seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Trees, power lines, poles, street signs,
overpasses, and other overhead items may fall during earthquakes. Stopping in a clear
location will reduce your risk, and a hard-topped vehicle will help protect you from flying
or falling objects. Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution. Avoid bridges or
ramps that might have been damaged by the quake.
- If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for
falling rocks and other debris that could be loosened by the earthquake. Landslides
are often triggered by earthquakes.