Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On! – Earthquake Safety
Post by: Gina Stone
As a Southern California native, earthquakes have become a fact of life for me. I remember my first sizable earthquake, what I was doing at the time, the sounds, the fear, the aftermath, and the clean up. This is also what sparked my interest in public safety, and my drive to keep everyone as safe as possible during emergencies and after.
At the time of my first “real” earthquake, I was still pretty young– in Middle School during the Whittier quake (don’t do the math, just don’t.) and about 10 miles from the epicenter – we got rocked pretty good. Since then, I’ve logged the Northridge quake, the twin Landers/Big Bear quakes, Hector Mine quake, Easter Mexico quake, and several other small to moderate quakes under my belt. And each one has reinforced my need to see that everyone knows how to best survive when an earthquake strikes. I can talk on this subject for DAYS (and probably will)…but will keep this post short and sweet.
The only time you have to prepare for an earthquake is NOW – before it strikes. We don’t have any early warning system (yet), so what you do today may save your life when the next one does strike.
Of course California isn’t the only state that has earthquakes. We’ve seen a substantial increase in moderate earthquakes in Oklahoma and Arkansas; even New England has had their share of quakes. We’ve all witnessed the destruction in Japan, Chile, Mexico, and Haiti.
SFgate.com did a fantastic job on how to create your own earthquake supply kit. Be sure to read it here. If you don’t want to invest that much time you can purchase ready made kits, however you will pay for the convenience, and still need to add the personal touches like medications, spare glasses, etc. This is the very minimum you will need. Feel free to expand on this as you see fit, but there is nothing on the basic list you can do without. We will also have future articles on how to build your disaster supply kit.
Some great, easy information on preparing for an earthquake can be found in Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country
So what is the first thing you do when an earthquake hits? No, not tweet about it. (Yeah, I know, I’m guilty too). Drop, Cover, and hold on. Look for someplace sturdy to get under, hold on to it so it doesn’t get away. Don’t fall for the “stand in a doorway” routine – that just leaves you open and vulnerable to whatever is falling, and in case of collapse does not provide any kind of protection whatsoever. If you’re in bed, stay there; put the pillow over your head to protect it from any debris. (You have, of course, removed or secured anything that could fall on you, right?)
Ok that was fun… now what?
- Once the shaking has stopped (the earth, not your nerves), check those nearby for injury, and be cautious of any damage. Don’t forget the elderly couple down the street, check on them as well. Be alert for the smell of gas, watch for downed power lines – assume any downed lines are still charged. Assist those in need (you have your first aid kit). I highly recommend taking a basic first aid course through the American Red Cross.
- If you do smell gas, take the wrench in your disaster supply kit and shut off the valve – but only if you smell gas. Consider having a seismic shut off valve installed on your gas line, they’ve been proven to save property and lives.
- Turn on TV/radio and stay informed. Use social media sites to gather information from reputable sources. There will be those panicking, don’t feed into it.
- Do not use the phone, or cell phone unless an absolute emergency. Text loved ones to let them know you are OK, the message will go thru quicker than trying to call, and will leave the lines open for emergencies.
- Be prepared for aftershocks. They are the “lather, rinse, repeat” part of earthquakes. Aftershocks often can exacerbate damage to buildings – keep your eyes open for any further damage, always stay alert to your surroundings.
There is a LOT of information here. Please, I beg you; take the time to review it. Take the time to discuss your plans with your family. It could save your life, or the lives of your loved ones. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate!
Photo courtesy of Hey Paul.
Founding Contributor of 2BeeReady.org