Quake Proof Your Life

Quake Proof Your Life 

There are fault zones in the United States other than the San Andreas in California. For instance the New Madrid Fault is under Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Arkansas, and another fault runs Westward from the coast of the Carolinas. Earthquakes can happen anywhere, anytime.  Some faults are unknown until they move.

During an Earthquake

  • When you feel an earthquake, duck under a desk or sturdy table. 
  • Stay away from windows, bookcases, file cabinets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants and other heavy objects that could fall. Watch out for falling plaster and ceiling tiles. Stay under cover until the shaking stops and hold onto your cover. If it moves, move with it. 
  • If you are in a HIGH-RISE BUILDING and not near a desk or table, move against an interior wall and protect your head with your arms. Do not use the elevators. 
  • Do not be surprised if the fire alarm or sprinkler systems come on. Stay indoors. Glass windows can dislodge during the quake and sail for hundreds of feet. 
  • If you’re OUTDOORS, move to a clear area away from trees, signs, buildings, electrical wires and poles. 
  • If you’re on a SIDEWALK NEAR BUILDINGS, duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, plaster and other debris. 
  • If you’re DRIVING, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses, power lines and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. 
  • If you’re in a CROWDED STORE OR OTHER PUBLIC PLACE, do not rush for the exit. Move away from display shelves containing objects that could fall.
  • If you’re in a WHEELCHAIR, stay in it. Move to cover, if possible. Lock your wheels and protect your head with your arms.
  •  If you’re in the KITCHEN, move away from the refrigerator, stove and overhead cupboards. (Take time now to anchor appliances and install security latches on cupboard doors to reduce hazards.) Make sure to secure the water heater also. 
  • If you’re in a STADIUM OR THEATER, stay in your seat and protect your head with yours arms. Do not try to leave until the shaking is over. Then leave in a calm, orderly manner. Avoid rushing toward an exit.

Know your environment 

Safest place in the home: During an earthquake, stay away from heavy furniture, appliances, large panes of glass, shelves holding heavy objects and masonry veneer (such as the fireplace). These items tend to fall or break and can injure you. Usually, a hallway is one of the safest places if it is not crowded with objects. Kitchens and garages tend to be the most dangerous. Also, know the safest place in each room. Moving from one place to another during a severe earthquake will be difficult.

Exits and alternative exits: Always know all the possible ways to exit your house and workplace in emergencies. Try to discover exits that would be available to you in an emergency.

Locations of shutoff valves: Know the locations of the shut off valves for water, gas and electricity. Learn how to operate the valves. If not sure, contact your utility company. Note: For electricity, trip/turn off each individual circuit breaker before turning off the main power switch.

 Make special provisions 

Elderly, disabled person’s medication: These people may have difficulty moving around after an earthquake. Plan to have someone help them evacuate. Also, they may need special foods or medication. Be sure to store several days’ supply of these special provisions.

People who don’t speak English: People who cannot speak English often rely on their family or friends for information. If they are separated during an earthquake, they may need help. Prepare emergency information cards written in English indicating identification, address and special needs, which they can carry in their wallets or purses.

Pets: After an earthquake, you should be concerned with your own safety before taking care of your pets. Storing extra food and water for pets is always a good idea. Keep pets in a secure place at home after an earthquake. If you are evacuated, pets may not be allowed at the emergency shelter. Some cities and communities have pet evacuation centers.

Know your community 

Police and fire: Know the locations of the nearest police and fire stations. Be aware that the local fire stations will probably be empty and locked up for days after a major earthquake.

After a damaging earthquake, emergency temporary medical centers will be set up in your community. Contact your local and state Office of Emergency Services to find out the plans for your area.

Community plans: Know your neighbors and their skills. You may be able to help each other after an earthquake. Also, find out where to go to help your community after a disaster. Learn first aid and CPR. Days may pass before outside emergency assistance arrives. It is important to help each other and volunteering will lift your spirits.

Ask your neighbor(s) if they or anyone else in your neighborhood is a trained CERT (Certified Emergency Rescue Team) member. If not, ask your local fire department when the next training class will be held. The classes are free, and you will receive a certificate upon graduation.

Plan to meet

Plan to reunite:  Make a plan on where and how to unite with family members. Choose a person outside the immediate area or out of your state to contact if family members are separated. Long distance phone service probably will be restored sooner than local service.

Plan responsibilities: There will be many things to take care of after an earthquake. Make a plan with your family, friends and neighbors, assigning specific responsibilities to each person. Remember getting around may be difficult, so each person’s tasks should be related to where they may be.

Develop a message drop: You need to identify a secure location outside your home where family members can leave messages for each other. This way, if you’re separated and unable to remain in your home, your family will know where to find you. You don’t want to publicize that you are not at home, which is why this location should be secure and discreet. Some places to consider include under a paving stone, inside a tin can, in the back yard, 


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