Disaster Preparedness – Earthquakes




Before an earthquake:

  • Make sure you have a disaster plan! The plan should explain where to meet your family after an earthquake.
  • Learn the earthquake plan at your school or workplace. Practice drills with your family (or coworkers).
  • Give your home an earthquake checkup. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, for example, don’t leave heavy objects on shelves. Also, anchor heavy furniture, cupboards, and appliances to the walls or floor.
  • Learn how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity.
  • Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries at your home.
  • Learn some rudimentary first aid.
  • Familiarize yourself with common earthquake myths. There is no such thing as “earthquake weather,” big earthquakes don’t always occur in the early morning, and we don’t know if dogs and other animals and “sense” a coming earthquake.

During an earthquake:

  • Stay calm.
  • If you’re indoors, stay put. Stand against a wall near the center of the building, stand in a doorway, or crawl under heavy furniture (a desk or table). Stay away from windows and outside doors.
  • If you’re outdoors, get away from tall objects that may collapse. Also stay away from power lines.
  • If you’re in a vehicle, stop quickly, but try to stay clear of those tall objects. Stay inside the car until the earthquake stops.

After an earthquake:

  • If trapped under debris, make as much noise as possible so emergency officials can find you.
  • Expect aftershocks and stay out of damaged structures. When an earthquake has passed, it’s not guaranteed that the danger is gone. Some structures or buildings weakened by the earthquake may take awhile before damage is noticeable. Be careful of chimneys, which may fall on you.
  • Check yourself and others for injuries. Provide first aid for anyone who needs it.
  • Turn on the radio. Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency. Don’t use elevators.
  • Check water, gas, and electric lines for damage. If any are damaged, shut off the valves. Check for the smell of gas. If you smell gas, open all windows and doors, leave immediately, and report the gas leak to the authorities using someone else’s phone. Don’t use matches, candles, or any flame. Broken gas lines and fire don’t mix.
  • Be careful around broken glass and debris. Wear boots or sturdy shoes to keep from cutting your feet.
  • Stay away from beaches. Tsunamis sometimes hit after the ground has stopped shaking.