How to Survive an Earthquake
Earthquakes: Nature’s most unpredictable and one of the most devastating natural disasters.
Every year, earthquakes cause thousands of deaths, usually due to the secondary events that they trigger such as building collapse, tsunamis, and landslides.
Regardless of the severity of the earthquake, the survival strategies everyone should know include planning ahead, having better construction, and knowing how to protect yourself.
Before an earthquake occurs, have an earthquake readiness plan.
Locate a place in each room of the house that you can go to in case of an earthquake. It should be a spot where nothing is likely to fall on you, like a doorframe. Know how to turn off your gas and water mains.
Store critical supplies (e.g., water, medication) and documents in an accessible place. Keep a supply of canned food, an up-to-date first aid kit, 3 gallons (11.4 liters) of water per person, dust masks and goggles, working battery-operated radio and flashlights.
Plan and practice how to Drop to the ground, Cover your head and neck with your arms, and if a safer place is nearby that you can get to without exposing yourself to flying debris, crawl to it and Hold On to maintain cover. To react quickly you must practice often. You may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake.
Plan how you will communicate with family members, including multiple methods by making a family emergency communication plan.
Subsequently, consult a professional to learn how to make your home sturdier.
Consult a structural engineer to evaluate your home and ask about updates to strengthen areas that would be weak during an earthquake. When choosing your home or business to rent or buy, check if the building is earthquake resistant per local building codes.
Secure items that could fall or move and cause injuries or damage (e.g., bookshelves, mirrors, light fixtures, televisions, computers, hot water heaters. Move beds away from windows and secure any hanging items over beds, couches, cribs or other places people sit or lie. bolting bookcases to wall studs, installing strong latches on cupboards, strapping the water heater to wall studs
Prepare Your Facilities: Make your buildings safer to be in during earthquakes and more resistant to earthquake damage and disruption. Depending on when and how they were designed, built, and furnished, existing buildings may have weaknesses that make them more vulnerable to earthquakes.
Check with your local building-regulatory agency to find out whether, and for how long, structures in your area have been subject to building codes containing seismic design provisions. Facilities constructed before adequate provisions came into effect may have structural vulnerabilities.
It is also important to know whether and for how long local seismic code provisions have addressed nonstructural building components. Nonstructural items include utility systems and architectural elements (e.g., light fixtures, suspended ceilings, windows, partitions), as well as furnishings, supplies, inventory, equipment, and other building contents.
Nonstructural seismic weaknesses can be as or more dangerous, costly, and disruptive as structural vulnerabilities. Any nonstructural items that are not effectively anchored, braced, reinforced, or otherwise secured could become safety hazards or property losses in an earthquake. Design and construction professionals are needed to properly secure some of these components, while others can be made safe by maintenance staff or other employees.
Earthquake risk-reduction measures can range from inexpensive methods of securing building contents to expensive structural modifications. The mix of measures that is optimal for your facilities will depend on factors such as the potential severity of the earthquake hazards in your locale, the current condition of your facilities, whether your workplace is owned or leased, and how vulnerable your operations are to facility damage and associated downtime. Visit QuakeSmart for information about how to assess your facility risks and how to develop and implement a plan to cost-effectively mitigate those risks.
Making buildings safer can be more affordable and less disruptive when done incrementally.
And most importantly, know how to protect yourself during and after an earthquake.
Drop down onto your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn’t knock you down. Drop to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!)
Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris.
If you are in danger from falling objects, and you can move safely, crawl for additional cover under a sturdy desk or table.
If no sturdy shelter is nearby, crawl away from windows, next to an interior wall.Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as light fixtures or furniture.
Hold on to any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops.
Stay where you are until the shaking stops. Do not run outside. Do not get in a doorway as this does not provide protection from falling or flying objects, and you may not be able to remain standing.
If getting safely to the floor to take cover won’t be possible:
If getting safely to the floor will be difficult, actions before an earthquake to secure or remove items that can fall or become projectiles should be a priority to create spaces..
Identify an away from windows and objects that could fall on you. The Earthquake Country Alliance advises getting as low as possible to the floor. People who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices should lock their wheels, bend over, and remain seated until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.
If you are in bed when you feel the shaking:
If you are in bed: Stay there and Cover your head and neck with a pillow. At night, hazards and debris are difficult to see and avoid; attempts to move in the dark result in more injuries than remaining in bed.
If you are outside when you feel the shaking:
If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once in the open, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Stay there until the shaking stops.
If you are in a moving vehicle when you feel the shaking:
It is difficult to control a vehicle during the shaking. If you are in a moving vehicle, stop as quickly and safely as possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires. Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that the earthquake may have damaged.
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