Be Prepared! Earthquake Tips

Earthquake damage - Bridge Street. by martinluff (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As Californians, we know how scary an earthquake can be. With the anniversaries of the Haiti earthquake (January 12) and the Northridge earthquake (January 17) coming up, I thought it would be best to re-check my earthquake preparedness level. Earthquakes and other natural disasters can be horrific, but being prepared with some earthquake tips can take some of the fear out of the situation.

Know What to Do Beforehand

One of the best earthquake tips is to have your home earthquake ready. Make sure to secure water heaters, major appliances and tall, heavy furniture, heavy wall decorations or anything with glass using earthquake putty and/or brackets.

Other great earthquake tips: Have a designated meeting place where you and your family/coworkers/neighbors can meet after an earthquake. Know where your gas, electric, and water main shutoffs are located and how to turn them off in case the earthquake causes a leak or electrical short. Also, know where your nearest fire station, police station, and emergency medical facilities are in case of an earthquake.

Earthquake Tips: Turn off the gas (photo by exalthim)

Know What to Have

Earthquake tips are all about being prepared. Being prepared means having an earthquake kit. Have these items in your earthquake kit:

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Adequate supplies of medications that you or family members are taking
  • Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
  • First-aid kit and handbook
  • Flashlights with extra bulbs and batteries
  • Portable radio with extra batteries
  • Water for each family member for at least two weeks (allow at least 1 gallon per person per day) and purification tablets or chlorine bleach to purify drinking water from other sources
  • Canned and package foods, enough for several days and MECHANICAL can opener. Extra food for pets if necessary
  • Camp stove or barbecue to cook on outdoors (store fuel out of the reach of children)
  • Waterproof, heavy-duty plastic bags for waste disposal.
  • Cash (ATMs and banks might be closed)
Earthquake Tips: Earthquake Kit (photo by globalx)

Know What to Do During an Earthquake

Earthquake Tips for Indoors

If you are indoors during the earthquake, stay put! Try to DUCK and COVER under a desk or table and HOLD on to it, move into a hallway, or stay against an inside wall. Stay away from fireplaces, windows, and heavy furniture and appliances (like in the kitchen). If the building is shaking or there’s a possibility of things (furniture, appliances, glass, debris, etc.) falling on you, don’t try to run outside or down stairs.

Earthquake Tips for Outdoors

If you are outside, move into an open area. Keep away from buildings, power lines, and anything else that could fall on you. If you are driving, carefully stop your car and move it out of traffic, if possible. Don’t stop on or under a bridge or overpass. Also, don’t stop under power lines, trees, light posts, or signs. Do not get out of your car until the earthquake is over. When you start driving again, keep an eye out for any bumps in the road, broken pavement, or falling rocks. If you are in a mountainous area, watch especially for falling rocks, landslides, and other debris like trees that could have been shaken loose.

Earthquake Tips: Watch for Damage (photo by martinluff)

Know What to Do After an Earthquake

One of the top earthquake tips is to expect aftershocks and be prepared to go through another earthquake. Don’t let an aftershock catch you off-guard!

After an earthquake, the first thing you should do is check for and treat injuries. Don’t move any seriously injured people unless they are in further danger of injury. Immediately seek out medical help for any serious injuries from an earthquake.

The next thing to do is check for hazards–fire hazards, gas leaks,damaged electrical wires and utility lines. Shut off your main gas valve if you think you have a leak (if you see a broken pipe or smell gas). Shut off your power if there’s any damage to your house’s wiring.

Last on the list of earthquake tips is to clean up, if it’s safe to do so. Clean up any spilled medicines, drugs, or other dangerous materials like gas, bleach, and cleaning products. When you open any closet doors or cupboards, be mindful of items that may fall. Also, check your food and water. If any open food containers were left near glass that shattered, don’t eat or drink it.  If your power goes out, keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. This will keep your food from spoiling.

Earthquake Tips: Clean Up (photo by juliesjournal)

An earthquake can be a scary thing, but being prepared with earthquake tips makes it easier. Do you have any earthquake tips that I didn’t mention? Tell me in the Comments section!