Monday, August 25, 2014

Everything you need to know to survive the next big earthquake.

Earthquake safety preparation:

-Consult a professional contractor or earthquake retrofit specialist for a review of your home or building.  They may suggest measures like bolting bookcases to wall studs, installing strong latches on cupboards, and strapping the water heater, refrigerator, and book cases or big furniture to wall studs.

-Store heavy items on lower shelves or broad, level surfaces so they won’t fall easily.  Make sure items that could potentially fall and cause injury are in latching cabinets. 

-It’s so important to know where your gas main and water main are located in your house as well as how to turn off electricity.  Clearly mark them so they’re easy to find in the fog and chaos of an emergency.  Make sure they are easily turned by hand and not hard to turn because of rust, corrosion, or debris.

-Prepare an earthquake readiness plan and go through it several times with your family.

-This should include two designated exits if you have to leave your home in the event of a fire, explosion, or collapse, and also a designated meeting area outside the home in a safe place.

-In this plan, account for who is responsible for trying to gather the family dog or pet, and parameters when it is safe to do so or better just to leave them.

-Designate a safe room in the house where everyone can automatically gather if an earthquake strikes.  It should be a room XY

-Store flammable liquids away from areas that may ignite or explode like stoves, furnaces, and water heaters.

-Keep a disaster relief kit easily accessible in the house or garage. This should include a first-aid kit, at least 3 gallons of water per person, dust or gas masks, a whistle, gardening gloves, blankets, sturdy boots or shoes, goggles, a battery powered flashlight, a battery powered radio, and a battery-powered or rechargeable cell phone power source.   It’s recommended you store enough rations for 24 hours with no food or water and 3 days without power or communications.

-Store all of your important financial and data records somewhere safe that you can access digitally – like a backup storage server, the Cloud, or via a web-based email.  This should include all of your insurance information.

When an earthquake begins:

-Generally, it’s advised that you Drop, Cover, and Hold On when an earthquake strikes. 

-But DO NOT get under a doorway.  For some reason, this is perceived as a safe place in event of an earthquake but it’s actually one of the worst places to be.
Try to find a strong desk or very sturdy table to get under and cover up.

-If you cannot get to one of those, at least stay along an interior wall, which is free of potentially falling objects and structurally sound. 

-If you are cooking or have an open flame source, hot iron, etc. then try to turn that off immediately before you take cover.

-Expect debris or objects to fall from above so take shelter in a safe position with hands overhead.
Avoid going near windows (glass or debris from the outside may injure you,) large mirrors, under chandeliers or hanging objects, near bookcases, tall heavy furniture that could tip over, or near fireplaces.

-Do not move or exit your home until the shaking stops.

-Expect fire alarms and sprinklers going off in apartment buildings, condos, or commercial buildings.

If you’re outside during an earthquake:

-Find an open area and stop, get to the ground, and cover up your head and neck until the shaking stops.

-Avoid being under trees or too close to houses, buildings, billboards, or other structures.

-Look up to see where you are in relation to power lines and poles. 

-If power lines do fall on your car, DO NOT get out or try to move.  Use your phone or horn to signal for help.

-If you are driving, pull over in an open location and stop and brace yourself.  Of course try to avoid (or get off of) bridges or highway ramps or overpasses.

-If you are on the beach or in a low coastal area when a bad earthquake hits, get to higher ground immediately after the shakings stops – tsunamis are at risk of following a strong earthquake.

After the shaking stops:

-Collect yourself and remain calm.  Thinking clearly and acting definitively is crucial to staying safe because the danger is by no means over just because the earthquake ceased. 

-Check yourself for injuries and then call out to others in the house to find them and make sure they are not inured. 

-If someone is seriously injured, it’s recommended you don’t move them unless they are in harms way.

-Go over your earthquake emergency plan in your head and even vocalize it.

-When it’s safe, turn off the electricity, gas main (SO important!) and water main.

-Expect aftershocks or tremors after a large earthquake.

-If it’s safe, proceed to the designated gathering area and locate your emergency supply kit.  Be conscious that there may be plenty of items that fell or were displaced during the quake in your path, or even items that could still fall, so make your way cautiously.

-If your home appears badly damage or you hear noises or see any continued shifting in the structure, exit immediately.

-If you smell gas, get everyone outside and open windows or doors if possible.  Do not use electrical appliances as even a little spark can trigger an explosion. 

-Once you are in a safe place, check your cell phone and send a group text to your emergency contact list that you and your family are safe.

-Expect cell phone communications to be interrupted or overloaded.  Keep trying, and possibly send a text as well as trying to call.

-Once it’s safe to do so, unplug all major appliances inside your home – when the power comes back on, it could cause fires or short circuits.  Turn off the electrical main or turn off the breakers, but never do so if you see frayed or damaged wiring or have to stand in water to do so.

-Try to bring your wallet and house and car keys with you, but only if you are 100% sure it’s safe to collect them.

-Be aware of debris that might possibly fall like tree limbs, roofing, gutters, and damaged chimneys.

-Make sure everyone puts on heavy footwear, goggles, and heavy gloves if you have to make your way across badly damaged areas.  Nails, glass, and other broken debris cause just as many injuries as earthquakes. 

-Exercise caution when opening any closet doors, attic hatches, cabinets, etc. because items probably shifted during the quake and will fall out.

-Call 911 to report injuries or gas leaks but try to reserve calling for emergencies.

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