Earthquakes are a threat to every state in the United States; in fact, the risk of an earthquake occurring is “moderate to severe” in almost all 50 states. The danger with an earthquake is that it strikes quickly and without warning, leaving unexpected damage in its wake. With no way to know this natural disaster is coming, there is little time to prepare and take action. This is why it is critical to create an earthquake survival plan and know what to do in an earthquake, as well as before and afterwards to stay safe.
Before the Earthquake
Determine safe locations in your home, as well as places you frequently visit, such as school or work where you can seek protection from an earthquake. This location should be away from windows and tall furniture that may topple over. Learn the proper technique to “drop, cover, and hold on” to a piece of sturdy furniture or against an interior wall. This position protects your head and neck from falling debris.
- Secure all furniture, cabinets, and heavy items in your home with bolts, anchors, and latches. This will keep them secure during the tremors so they do not fall.
- Keep flashlights in convenient locations in every room of your house. Place one at every family member’s bedside, as well as a pair of sturdy shoes. This will ensure you’re prepared if an earthquake comes while you are sleeping.
- Stock an emergency supply kit so you are ready to deal with the aftermath including:
- First aid kit
What to Do During an Earthquake
When an earthquake strikes, remain calm but take quick action because it can save your life. If you’re inside, go directly into your safe location to duck and cover. If you are outside, head inside if possible or move away from buildings and trees. Once you have reached your safe space, remain there until the shaking stops completely.
Many people believe that a doorway is the safest location during an earthquake, but it really isn’t. A doorway offers little protection from falling debris. Depending on the strength of the earthquake, it is also possible that you’ll not be able to hold on and remain standing there.
If you are driving, find a safe location and stop immediately. Remain in the car for the duration of the earthquake. Once it is safe to resume driving, avoid traveling on bridges or ramps that may have been damaged.
After the Earthquake
Once the shaking has stopped, move away from any damaged areas if you are able. If you are trapped, remain calm and wait for emergency rescuers to arrive. Blowing a whistle or tapping on a wall are good ways to help rescuers find your location. Don’t move around or try to dig yourself out, as this may cause more of the structure to collapse down on you.
Aftershocks are very common after an earthquake, so remain aware and be prepared to “drop, cover, and hold on” again at a moment’s notice. If you have access to a radio or cell phone, use it to stay informed of the latest news and instructions.
Taking these precautions now is the best way to help ensure your family’s safety and survival during an earthquake. By knowing what to do in an earthquake ahead of time, you can remain calm and take appropriate action in the midst of disaster.