Earthquake SafetyPublished on September 4, 2020
Last modified on September 14, 2020
Earthquakes, unlike other types of natural disasters, can happen at any time without notice. Although there are higher risk areas such as California, Oregon, Washington, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Mississippi Valley, earthquakes can happen anywhere . . . so preparedness is key! Included below are a few tips from the Earthquake Country Alliance you can take to prepare and protect yourself, your family and home in the event of an earthquake.
As mentioned, earthquakes happen without warning. The best way to stay safe during an earthquake is to be ready for it when the time strikes.
- Secure your space. Secure furniture, artworks, mirrors, and hanging items by using hooks, and attach to studs if possible. Keep heavy or unstable items close to the floor or on low shelves. Install strong latches on kitchen cabinets. Use flexible connectors where gas lines meet appliances.
- Create a plan. Be sure that everyone in your household or office knows what to do if and when the time comes. Identify safe spots in every room and know which areas to avoid. Have medical kits ready and easily accessible. Know the location of utility shutoffs and know how and when to shut off gas, water, and electricity (in your home).
- Prepare disaster kits. Include items such as medications/prescriptions, first aid supplies, spare eyeglasses, blankets, emergency cash, maps, batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, whistles, latex gloves, non-perishable food, bottled water, copies of important documents, and emergency contact information. Keep a kit at home, in your car, and in your workplace. Fire extinguishers should also be readily available.
- Drop, Cover, and Hold On! Remembering this simple action can help save lives and reduce the risk of injury. DROP where you are onto your hands and knees. COVER you head/neck with one arm and hand, and crawl underneath a nearby, sturdy desk or table. If strong furniture isn’t available, be sure to stay away from outside walls and windows and stay huddled near an interior wall. HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
- Check for injuries and damage. After the shaking stops and you’ve assessed your own health, it is important to check for potential damage and injuries around you that may need immediate attention. The aftermath of an earthquake can create an entirely new set of hazards such as leaking gas lines, fire, flooding, exposed electrical lines, breathing/inhalation concerns, unsafe debris, harmful spills, etc. Use mobile phones with caution, in areas only where gas leaks do not exist. Mobile phones do cause sparks which can ignite gas. Remember to keep yourself safe, but react calmly and quickly to those that need your help. If you are trapped or injured, protect yourself by covering your eyes, nose, and mouth, and signal for help to the best of your ability.
- Follow your plan. Use the information in your disaster plan and the supplies from your disaster kit. Safe communication is very important during your recovery efforts. Keep in contact and work together with law enforcement, emergency personnel, and those in your immediate area and community (as long as hazards such as gas leaks, which would prevent mobile phone usage, do not exist).
Many agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross, provide valuable safety tips to implement before, during, and after an earthquake. In addition, you can review our Weathering the Storm “DO’s and DON’Ts” flyer for more information about handling severe or dangerous weather.
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Disclaimer: The GUARD Wire is designed to provide general information about various topics of interest and should NOT replace the guidance, advice, or recommendations from licensed insurance or legal professionals, other industry experts, or state and federal authorities.