Recent earthquakes in Haiti, Argentina and Venezuala highlight the fact that earthquake awareness is extremely important in these times. Your chances of surviving an earthquake - or any other type of hazard - improve with some knowledge of possible precautionary measures, and advance preparation. The earthquake safety tips below could make a difference if you find yourself in a life-threatening earthquake situation. Most earthquakes are over in a few seconds so knowing instinctively what to do is very important for your survival.
Before the Earthquake
During the Earthquake:
- Teach all members of your family about earthquake safety. This includes: 1) the actions you should take when an earthquake occurs, 2) the safe places in a room such as under a strong desk, along interior walls, and 3) places to avoid such as near windows, large mirrors, hanging objects, heavy furniture and fireplaces.
- Stock up on emergency supplies. These include: battery operated radio (and extra batteries), flashlights (and extra batteries), first aid kit, bottled water, two weeks food and medical supplies, blankets, cooking fuel, tools needed to turn off your gas, water and electric utilities.
- Arrange your home for safety: Store heavy objects on lower shelves and store breakable objects in cabinets with latched doors. Don't hang heavy mirrors or pictures above areas or furniture where people frequently sit or sleep.
- Anchor heavy appliances and furniture such as water heaters, refrigerators and bookcases.
- Store flammable liquids away from potential ignition sources such as water heaters, stoves and furnaces.
- Learn where the main turn-offs are for your water, gas and electricity. Know how to turn them off and the location of any needed tools.
After the Earthquake:
- If you are indoors, stay there. Quickly move to a safe location in the room such as under a strong desk, a strong table, or along an interior wall. The goal is to protect yourself from falling objects and be located near the structural strong points of the room. Avoid taking cover near windows, large mirrors, hanging objects, heavy furniture, heavy appliances or fireplaces.
- If you are cooking, turn off the stove and take cover.
- If you are outdoors, move to an open area where falling objects are unlikely to strike you. Move away from buildings, powerlines and trees.
- If you are driving, slow down smoothly and stop on the side of the road. Avoid stopping on or under bridges and overpasses, or under power lines, trees and large signs. Stay in your car.
Adapted from http://geology.com/articles/earthquake-safety.shtml
- Check yourself and those around you for injuries, attend to injuries if needed. Help ensure the safety of people around you.
- Check the building you may be in for damage. If your building appears to be damaged you should leave it and not return until it has been inspected by a safety professional.
- If you smell or hear a gas leak, get everyone outside and open windows and doors. If you can do it safely, turn off the gas at the meter. Report the leak to the gas company and fire department. Do not use any electrical appliances because a tiny spark could ignite the gas.
- If the power is out, unplug major appliances to prevent possible damage when the power is turned back on. If you see sparks, frayed wires, or smell hot insulation turn off electricity at the main fuse box or breaker. If you will have to step in or near water to turn off the electricity, you should call a professional to turn it off for you.