Earthquakes. Although they only last for a few seconds themselves, the damage they can cause can be severe, and the risk afterwards can be quite dangerous. This is an outline to help you prepare better for them, know how to act during them, and know how to handle the situation afterwards.
BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE
Most of the things you can do to survive an earthquake happen before the earthquake hits. Plan ahead, stock up, and you’ll be in a much better place should the earthquake hit.
1) Secure Your Home
Some steps to make your home safer:
Secure your shelves, and move heavy objects to the lowest shelves or on the floor.
Secure heavy items on the wall (paintings, mirrors, etc).
Strap and bolt refrigerators, furnaces and gas appliances to the wall or floor.
Store any breakable items, poisons, or flammable items in close to the ground, latched cabinets.
Repair any gas connections to avoid fire risks. Flexible pipe fittings for gas and water pipes are more resistant to damage. In some cases, an automatic shut-off valve for gas lines triggered by vibrations are available.
Repair any electrical wiring that needs it, to avoid fire risks.
2) Supply Your Home
The hours and days following the earthquake may be chaotic, and stores may not be open or supplied with all the items you will need. It’s a good idea to have an emergency supply of certain items.
WATER- Have at least 3 days worth of water, ideally more, stored for every member of your family. You should have at least 4L/person/day. For more on the subject, read this article on emergency water supply and storage.
FOOD- Have at least 3 days worth of food, ideally more, stored for every member of your family. For more on the subject, read this article on emergency food supply and storage.
Create an earthquake survival kit, with items that will help you in an earthquakes aftermath.
3) HAVE A PLAN
Have a plan that covers how to react to an earthquake. Make sure everyone in your family knows it. What should you do an earthquake? Where are the safe spots? Where are the dangerous spots?
DURING AN EARTHQUAKE
An important thing to remember is that during an earthquake, most injuries and fatalities are caused by falling debris or collapsing walls. Your best bet is to find the safest place close to you, and STAY THERE until the shaking stops.
1) If You’re Indoors
During and earthquake, remember to DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
DROP to the ground.
COVER yourself, with a sturdy table of furniture (if possible).
HOLD ON until the shaking finishes.
Be in the center of the room if possible, away from windows, furniture, or anything that could fall.
DO NOT stand in a doorway, unless you know it is load-bearing. Most modern homes do not offer this protection.
Stay inside and don’t move until the shaking stops. Most injuries during an earthquake occur when people try and move during the shaking.
2) If You’re Outdoors
Find a close, open spot, away from buildings, electrical wires, etc.
DROP to the ground, COVER yourself, and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
Avoid trying to enter a building during an earthquake, as you will be extremely vulnerable to any structural damage it may face.
3) If You’re In A Car
Stop as soon as you can, away from anything that could fall or collapse on you (buildings, electrical wires, trees, overpasses, etc). Stay in your car. DO NOT exit during an earthquake.
Following an earthquake, proceed with caution. Avoid any roads or bridges that may have been damaged by the quake.
AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE
Know that there may be aftershocks. They won’t be as powerful as the initial earthquake, but can cause already damaged infrastructure to collapse.
Listen to your battery-powered radio for information on your area. If you live on the coast, listen to any tsunami warnings and be prepared to evacuate quickly.
Play the hero. Help and trapped or injured people. You’d appreciate the same effort if you needed it. Put out any small fires if you can, as fires are on of the biggest post-earthquake hazards.
If your home has been damaged, head to a public shelter. In the USA, you can find the nearest one to you by sending the text SHELTER + YOU ZIP CODE to 4FEMA (43362).
Stay away from damaged areas until they are cleared by the authorities, and be careful when driving.
Check for gas leaks, electrical system damage, sewage or waterline damage.
Good luck and stay prepared!