Good earthquake preparedness begins before the tremors start. The tips below can help you minimize the impact of earthquake hazards on your family’s health and home.
Develop An Emergency Plan
Help prepare your family for a seismic event by creating a disaster preparedness plan, including a disaster survival kit and an emergency evacuation plan. Make sure to refresh the water and food supplies in your kit regularly.
Historically, earthquakes are most frequent in the western and Pacific states, but the strongest in the central states. Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to see if your state carries a low, high, or very high risk of an earthquake.
To identify more specific risks, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) posts a map showing the location and intensity of recent seismic events. If an earthquake occurs in your area, use a battery-powered radio to receive the latest official information.
The suggested response to an earthquake varies based on where you are located. If you are indoors, drop to the floor and take cover under the nearest interior doorway or sturdy piece of furniture, such as a heavy desk or table. Many earthquake injuries occur when people move to a new location within a structure or try to move outdoors, both of which increase the risk of injury from falls and flying debris. Unless you are in immediate danger, stay indoors until the shaking stops.
If you are already outdoors, stay there and move away from trees and tall structures, including buildings, streetlights, and utility poles and wires.
If an earthquake occurs while you are driving, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so in an area away from bridges, overpasses, and other structures. Stay in your car and turn your radio on for information, unless you are in immediate danger. Once the earthquake has stopped, proceed with caution and avoid roadways that might have been damaged by the quake.
Protect Your Home
There are several steps you can take to help secure your home and property before an earthquake.
- Structure: To minimize earthquake damage to your home, be sure your house is bolted to the foundation. Inspect the foundation, roof, and chimneys for cracks and other structural problems. For more information about earthquake-resistant construction, check with your local building department, contractor, or architect.
- Appliances: To minimize the risk of fire and flood, strap your water heater securely to the wall, and use flexible connectors for all gas and water supplies. If you notice faulty wiring, contact an electrician to make necessary repairs.
- Furnishings: During an earthquake, falling and flying objects present a clear danger to a building’s occupants. Attach tall furniture, bookcases, and refrigerators to walls. Also, make sure mirrors, picture frames, hanging plants, and lamps are mounted securely. Keep beds away from glass or any hanging object that might fall, and install sturdy latches on cabinet doors.
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