People from other states often ask us how we can live in “EarthquakeCounty”, akaCalifornia. What they don’t know is that no part of theUnited Statesis free from earthquakes. Just take a look at the list below showing where earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater have occurred since December 31, 2011, in theUSA. They are in every region!
In August of 2011, there was a 5.8 inVirginiaand a 5.3 inColorado! Fortunately, no one was killed in these earthquakes; however, there were injuries and costly property damage.
Preparing before an Earthquake
Since an earthquake can strike anywhere, everyone needs to know what to do to prepare. First, make sure you are ready with emergency preparedness basics that are needed for any type of disaster.
Do you have:
- Grab-&-go kits/72 hour kits that are stocked, ready and accessible for every member of your household, including pets?
- Emergency food storage that has a long shelf life and is easy to prepare? If you have canned food, make sure to have a manual can opener. If you have dehydrated/freeze-dried food, increase the amount of water that you store, so that you don’t deplete all your water reconstituting the food. Check the expiration dates on all stored food and replace as necessary.
- Water for drinking, personal hygiene and sanitation? Allow at least one gallon per person per day. This is the bare minimum. Store as much as you can. If you have filled water barrels, replace the water in them every five years to ensure its quality.
- A first aid kit? Be sure to go through your first aid kit and replace any medical supplies that may have expired. If you or a loved one require prescription medication, add some to your kit along with a copy of the prescription. Copies of eye glass prescriptions are also a good idea.
- An emergency communication plan? Do you have a location to meet if the members of you household were not together when the earthquake occurred? Does your family know how to get in touch with each other after the earthquake? It’s best to have a contact out of the area that all family members know to call. Remember, texting will function even if land lines and cell phones do not. Texting works like a ham radio and continues to seek a working tower until your message can be sent.
- An emergency gas/water shutoff tool. Almost as important, do you know how to use it?
Strategies specifically for earthquake preparedness include:
Securely fastening shelves and other tall pieces of furniture to the walls
- Hanging large, heavy items, such as mirrors or artwork, away from beds and seating areas
- Bracing overhead light fixtures
- Storing breakable items, such as bottled foods, glass and china, in low, closed cabinets with latches
- Placing large or heavy objects on lower shelves
- Strapping the water heater to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor
- Repairing defective electrical wiring and leaking gas connections, which are potential fire hazards
What to Do During an Earthquake
Remain calm! Think through the consequences of all your actions.
- Stop, drop, cover, and hold on to something sturdy, where you are.
- If you are indoors, stay indoors. Take cover under a heavy desk, table, bench, archway, alongside a sturdy wall or in a narrow hallway. Stay away from windows and all other forms of glass, elevators, stairwells, and doorways with doors (doors can swing closed, causing injuries).
- If you are outdoors, stay outdoors. Move away from buildings, roofs with clay tiles, antennas, or satellite dishes, large trees, signs, power lines, and any other utility wires or buildings on stilts.
- If you are in a crowded place, stay away from overhead walkways and do not rush for a doorway. Take cover and move away from display shelves holding objects that can fall.
- If you are in a high-rise building, get under a sturdy desk or table away from windows and outside walls. Stay in the building on the same floor. An evacuation may not be necessary. Be aware that the electricity may go out and that the sprinkler systems and fire alarms may go on.
After the initial quake, be prepared for aftershocks. Check for gas or water leaks, shutting utilities off if necessary. Listen to your battery-powered, Dynamo or solar radio for updates and instructions.