As you listen to the news every day, there might be days that you will stumble on headlines that talk about strong magnitudes of earthquake shaking a particular country or maybe, destroying a whole city. Because of climate change and other scientific explanations, more and more fault lines have emerged as the years go by, threatening people with the fact that earthquakes may happen when you least expect them.
Experts from the United States Geological Survey says that 143 million people are currently living in areas where earthquakes may cause a lot of damage. The West Coast has the highest risk of having seismic activities in the U.S. Yet, the Midwest, the interior West, the pockets of Upstate New York and New England, and the coastal region of South Carolina are still considered hazardous earthquake zones. As reported, there are 45 territories and states that are at moderate or high risk of experiencing earthquakes.
There is no place here on Earth that will keep you 100% safe from calamities, especially earthquakes. So, it is crucial that you take preventive measures and prepare for these kinds of disasters.
Earthquakes occur without giving a warning. And until that time comes, you are not sure how intense the impact could be when a major one happens. However, preparation should be done as early as now. Being prepared and staying alert goes a long way, especially if we are talking about survival here.
For agencies and cities, being prepared means collaborating with engineers to improve old structures and construct new and durable buildings, highways, and bridges that can withstand the shakes and tremors caused by earthquakes. For families and individuals, preparing means putting up a plan and organizing a kit so you are ready to do what you ought to do before, during, and after an earthquake.
How to Prepare Your Home BEFORE An Earthquake
As earthquakes may hit your area without any warning, knowing the potential hazards and devising a plan in advance decreases the risks of experiencing severe injury or casualties from an earthquake.
Injuries resulting from items that have fallen during the shake are common when earthquakes happen, so make sure to keep your family safe from these things. Have a home inventory and keep things that may move during a shaking in a closed cabinet or drawer. Also, make sure you securely attached hanging pictures or bookcases on the wall.
Water, electricity, and food may not be accessible for a couple of days after an earthquake. So, store enough food, water, and other necessities that will sustain you for at least 72 hours through an earthquake supply kit. Make sure to place it somewhere you can easily see, so you can grab it once an earthquake strikes.
Developing a good emergency plan is excellent as you get yourself ready to face disasters. Be sure that the plan you have is direct and simple, as your other family members will have to commit to memorizing it. Do not overcomplicate things as this may lead your family members to forget the things you have instructed them.
Once you have created your plan, paste it on the walls where everyone can see it and also keep a copy in your car.
Here’s what you should cover in your plan:
- Talk about what you must do during an actual earthquake.
Ditch the “get under a large piece of furniture” or “avoid standing a doorway” advice. Instead, when an earthquake is happening, and you are in bed, stay there. Keep your seatbelts fastened and stop driving if you are inside a car. When you happen to be in an open area, make sure to stay away from trees and powerlines and protect yourself from falling debris.
- Inform them where the emergency supplies are located and assign roles to each family member.
As you pack the emergency supplies, orient your family members where to get them, so they can quickly grab them once an earthquake happens. It is necessary that you designate assignments to your family members as this will keep them alert and will give you an easier time to carry things with you once you leave the house.
- Devise a plan on how you can reconnect your communication lines.
When an earthquake hits your community, chances are that failure in communication lines may be experienced. If this happens, you will need to look after your kids, especially if they are in school when the shaking of the ground occurs. Create a plan to retrieve your children, to help you arrive home safely, or to properly meet with your family if going home is not an option.
Meeting points should be designated and discuss the time that one will need to spend waiting for the family members to reach the first to the second location. You may bring a paper map handy with you, especially since your phone will be out of service.
- Create an evacuation plan.
If it is possible, stay at home during and after an earthquake. But if your home is caught on fire or at risk of collapsing, you must know how you can get everyone out safely and quickly and what items should you bring along. Assign who will get the baby or grab the dog, or who will bring the emergency kit.
What to Do DURING an Earthquake
As the ground starts to shake, you have to keep yourself safe always. Remember that there are earthquakes that are only fore shocks, which signal the approach of more intense shaking. So, make sure that you are in a safer place as soon as possible.
If the earthquake is happening while you are still inside your office, home, or school, you need to duck, cover and hold: duck down to the ground, take cover by hiding under a sturdy desk or piece of furniture, and hold on until the earthquake stops. If it so happens that there is no table in where you are currently at, go to a corner or the inside area of the building and stay away from the windows or glass. Cover your head with your arms and stay on the floor.
Do not go out unless the earthquake stops, and it is completely safe to go out. When you are already out, make sure to stay away from buildings and move to open space.
What to Do After An Earthquake
When the earthquake stops, you need to move to a much safer location right away. Bring your earthquake preparedness kit with you. Monitor yourself and see if you have injuries. And then, you can start helping others in need of your assistance.
If you are still at home, check if there is any damage in your gas, water, and electric lines. Turn on the radio to keep yourself posted with the latest happenings in your community. Try to conserve your phone’s battery, so use your gadget only if it is necessary. Make sure that you are wearing a pair of sturdy shoes to prevent you from cutting yourself, just in case you stepped on fallen debris or broken glass.
If you are outside, do not go near the beaches, as tsunamis may possibly occur when the ground shakes. Reconnect and start communicating with your family members with the emergency plan that you have created.
What Should Be Inside Your Earthquake Preparedness Kit?
- Food that would be sufficient for two to three days.
- A gallon of water or more for each family member
- Flashlights with spare batteries.
- First aid kit, including medicines
- Personal belongings (toiletries, etc.)
- Items to help you make fire
- Optional: Things to make use of your time, such as board games or books
How to Prepare Your Home for An Earthquake
- Place a pair of closed-toed shoes under your bed.
If it is possible, make sure they have rubber soles. An earthquake may result in pieces of broken glass, exposed wires, and cracked flooring. And if you are at home or you just woke up from sleeping, keeping a pair of hiking boots or tennis shoes will help you navigate your way out after an earthquake.
- Considering moving heavy objects to lower shelves.
You have to expect that as the shaking starts, it might also mean that things are flying out of your shelves and falling down on the floor. If this happens, it may bring a lot of damage if your printer or your three-gallon jar is at the top shelf of your home. Heavy objects should be placed in lower objects for your safety.
- Place your artwork or properly.
Avoid hanging your artwork over your bed or secure the decorations you hang on the wall to prevent them from falling. Anything may fall when an earthquake happens. So, it is your duty that you will not put yourself or any of your family members in danger.
- Make sure you secure your shelves and your heavy appliances.
Keep your shelves secured all the time by using wall straps and do the same for your appliances, such as washer or dryer units, as gas or water lines may break when they fall.
- Make it a habit to shut your gas, water, and power off.
As part of your preparation, you must learn to start shutting the power, gas, and water off your home. Find the circuit box in your home to shut the power off, the crank for the gas, and the valve for your water supply. When an earthquake hits your place, and there is a gas or water leak or electrical wires that are damaged, make sure that you shut the utilities down right away.
Preparation is essential, especially since earthquakes can never be predicted. They do not occur with a warning. When they happen, they happen. So, it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe. Start developing your emergency plan to help you navigate your way out of the casualties that are caused by earthquakes.