Natural disasters have some of the most hazardous effects on lives and structures. One of the most terrifying natural disasters is earthquakes because they can occur seemingly randomly and with great force. While thousands of tiny earthquakes happen each day, a major earthquake can seriously disrupt an entire country. Not only does such an earthquakes make a sudden appearance but so do the aftershocks that somehow seem to come with even less warning than the actual earthquake. However, there are always precautions, and safety tips to prepare you for before, during, and after the disaster.
If you live in an area where earthquakes are prone to happen, such as near a fault line or somewhere in the entirety of California, you need to plan for the eventuality that an earthquake will happen. Even if you reside somewhere less prone to the ground moving, you should prepare yourself for the slight possibility. One of the easiest ways to prepare is to make an evacuation plan that details several exits, and a preplanned meeting point for everyone in your household. Just like a fire evacuation plan, you should practice your exit strategy twice a year as well as making sure that everyone in your household understands the reasons behind the preparations. Another extremely useful tip is to create a disaster supplies kit. This can be as simple as a backpack containing all necessary survival items. Inside your kit you should at a minimum include: canned or other nonperishable food, first aid kit, battery operated flashlights, at least one gallons of water per person per day, and extra batteries.
When the shaking begins, you must be prepared to act safely and swiftly. If you are indoors, try to move as little as possible. Get down, and cover your neck with your hands. Make sure that you avoid windows, glass, or items not attached to the building. You should remain inside until you are certain the aftershocks are completely over. If you must move immediately, avoid the stairs in case of power outages or power surges. If you are outside, find an open space away from streetlights, trees, buildings, and powerlines then drop to the ground and cover your neck. If you are in your automobile, pull over to an open location and wait until the shaking comes to a complete stop. After the earthquake is finished, bridges, and roads may be damaged so drive with extreme caution and do not remove your seatbelt.
Following the earthquake, there are several important steps to take. First, turn off your gas, electricity and water to prevent any system from leaking or damaging your home. Find a clear pathway towards an open outside space and wait to make sure that the building you were inside still has its structural integrity. If you find yourself trapped, try not to move or create dust. Hopefully you will have a cellphone to call or text for help but if you don’t wait. You can tap on a wall, pipe or nearby object and even whistle in order to alert others of your presence. If you are not trapped, tune into your local police station and listen to the news. You might be able to assist others or just plain stay safe.
Natural disasters can be extremely disorienting. If you have the time and resources to properly prepare for them then you should most definitely do so. By taking the time to pull together a quick disaster kit, you’ll be saving life and limb in the worst case scenario. Moreover, the knowledge of how to behave under extenuating circumstances could very well save your life. Earthquakes are unpredictable, sudden, and capable of huge damage. Do not allow yourself to become a victim of circumstance when you had the chance to beat the odds.
Watch a common safety myth be tested below. Should you stand in a doorway during an earthquake?