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Earthquake

  • 3 Ways to Increase Your Odds of Surviving an Earthquake

    Christchurch, New Zealand - March 12, 2011: surviving an earthquake

    Earthquakes—as well as other natural disasters—scare us because of their randomness. We never know when something might happen. And once a disaster strikes, along comes death and destruction.

    Despite the fear that comes with natural disasters, you shouldn’t necessarily spend your time worrying about when the next earthquake might come about and end your life. In fact, you have a greater chance of dying by comet impact (1 in 20,000) or even from an accident at home (1 in 26,000). According to Dartmouth, the odds of dying in an earthquake in California (where those things are quite common) is 1 in 2,000,000.

    If you’ve ever entered a giveaway with 2 million entries, you quickly realize your chances of winning are not good. Likewise, your chances of surviving an earthquake are extremely high with those odds. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t still be prepared. A little forethought can be the reason you make it through.

    Although there is a randomness factor as to when an earthquake will strike, you can still stack the deck in your favor. When the random event happens is moot; what matters is what you do to prepare for it. By minimizing the randomness, you’re more in control, and better able to protect yourself and your family.

    Here are five things to do to beat Mother Nature at her own game.

     

    Prepare Your Home

    surviving an earthquake by mounting a TV

    If you were to shake your entire house, what would fall down? Pictures on walls, bookshelves, and televisions are the first things that come to mind. Essentially, tall, heavy, and expensive objects should be secured, be it through putty (i.e. for vases or stand-up decorations) or wall mounts (i.e. for bookshelves or televisions).

    Move potential hazards away from your bed. This means if you sleep underneath a shelf, don’t load it with heavy objects that could fall on you should an earthquake happen during the night. You can also secure your cupboards with safety latches (just like the ones you use to keep your toddlers out of the cutlery drawer), thus keeping the plates, cups, and other things housed up there from falling and injuring anyone underneath.

     

     

    Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

    Drop Cover HOLD ON, NELLY! Image courtesy of Shakeout.org

    Don’t try and run. Chances are you’ll just be knocked off your feet by the shaking anyway. Instead, drop to the ground, take cover under something sturdy (like a desk or a table), and hold on until the shaking stops. If there is no convenient sturdy object to hide under, taking cover in an inside corner of a building is the next safest place to be. Drop down and cover your neck and head with your hands and arms.

    If you’re inside, stay there! Don’t run out. In a story in the LA Times, two women fleeing a building during the 2003 Paso Robles earthquake were killed when bricks fell down on them. Had they stayed inside, they would have been just fine.

    If you’re in your bed, do not get out. Stay there, hold on, and cover your head with your pillow. Getting out of bed could put you at risk of both falling objects as well as broken glass and other debris on the floor.

     

    Have Emergency Kits

    Following a disaster, what might life be like without an emergency kit? Without one, you could be out of food, water, or supplies to help keep you warm at night with no power. First aid supplies are very useful, especially to patch up cuts, wounds, and other injuries sustained during the disaster. Once the earthquake stops, medical personnel will be focusing their time on the most critically injured, so if you’re not on that list, you’ll be fending for yourself for possibly days.

    Make sure you have an emergency kit that fits your needs. You can get a pre-assembled emergency kit, or make your own from items you get yourself. The pre-assembled kits should have water pouches (or other form of portable water), as well as food and gear to at least cover the basics.

     

    While the odds of surviving an earthquake is high, you can increase your chances even more by being prepared well in advance. Take time today to evaluate your emergency preparedness plan and supplies and make any changes and acquisitions you need to be ready for anything.

    May the odds be ever in your favor.

     

    Earthquake Banner - Call to Action

     

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  • Why You Should Drop Cover and Hold On During an Earthquake

    Within 50 years from now, scientists predict a large earthquake to strike Utah.

    Wasatch Fault Sign - Drop cover and hold onWith a 43% chance of a magnitude 6.75 or higher within that time frame, those in Utah really don’t have that much longer to prepare, all things considered. That’s why ShakeOuts are held every year, to help prepare the people to be as safe as possible during an earthquake.

    Utah is the only state to hold a ShakeOut in April (the other states hold theirs in October), and on April 21, 2016, another of these state-wide earthquake drills was conducted.

    Thousands of students, businesses, and homeowners – nearly a million in total – went through the motions of dropping, covering, and holding on – the suggested procedure to avoiding injury during a quake. Here’s why we drop, cover, and hold on during an earthquake.

     

    Drop

    DROP Cover and Hold OnYou never know how strong an earthquake is going to be. Even the first small jolt could be just the beginning of “the big one,” in which case you most certainly do not want to be on your feet. When the earth starts swaying, you can be knocked down quite easily. This is, of course, dangerous. Don’t wait to see if it’s “the big one” or not. Get down on the ground as quickly and safely as you can as soon as you feel the quake.

    Do your best to avoid exterior walls, windows, mirrors, and areas where heavy objects could fall on you. If you’re in bed, hold on and stay where you are. If you are outdoors, move to an open, clear area if you are able to safely do so. Steer clear of trees, power lines, and other hazards.

     

    Cover

    Drop COVER and Hold onOnce you’ve dropped safely to the ground, the next step is to protect yourself from falling objects. The best thing you can do is hide under a table or desk, but make sure your cover is sturdy. It won’t do much good if your table will just collapse on top of you.

    If you don’t have access to a desk, table, or similar shelter, then use your arms to cover your head and neck. Those two areas can be the most dangerous if struck by falling objects. Contrary to popular belief, standing in a doorway is not recommended. In modern homes, doorways are just as stable (or weak) as the rest of the home. There is also always a danger of flying objects caused by the earthquake, and by standing in a doorway you are opening yourself up to that danger. So stay down, and stay covered!

     

    Hold On

    Drop cover and HOLD ONEarthquake do just what their name implies – they shake the earth violently. If you’re not holding on to something during this shaking, you could be jolted around, thereby causing you more harm and injury. If you’re under a table or desk, grab hold of the legs or brace yourself against your cubicle walls (if you’re in an office).

    Once the earthquake stops, don’t run. Violent aftershocks could knock you off your feet. Once outside, again, stay away from power lines, trees, buildings, signs, and other potential hazards should another tremor come and knock things over.

     

    Being safe in an earthquake means starting now to prepare. Fasten down any objects that could fly off the walls or shelves. Anchor book cases to the wall. Find potential dangers in your home and take care of them. If you have a mantle over your bed, don’t keep any heavy objects on it, as they could fall on you during an earthquake.

    Likewise, prepare now with emergency food, water, gear, and other supplies. If an earthquake is strong enough, you could be left without those basic necessities, so at least have a 72 hour kit will keep you going until more help can arrive.

    Take the time today to prepare for an earthquake. They come without warning, and once they do, it’s too late to prepare.

    Just remember to drop cover and hold on!

     

    Earthquake Banner - Call to Action - Drop cover and hold on

  • What We Learned from the Kumamoto Earthquake

    Kumamoto Quake - Photo by Kyodo Kumamoto Earthquake - Photo by Kyodo

    On April 14, 2016, Japan was hit by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake. While not as strong as the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that happened back in 2011, there was still plenty of damage inflicted.

    This 6.4 earthquake struck Southern Japan, near Kumamoto, Kyushu around 9:26 at night local time. Sources report power outages occurred in areas near the epicenter. Water was also cut off in certain areas. Damages weren’t catastrophic, but included fallen bookshelves, vases, and other things not secured. Some areas, however, saw house walls collapse, possibly trapping people inside.

    There are nuclear power plants in the region, but they appear to be unaffected by the earthquake.

    Not only do earthquakes cause immediate damage, they also bring about more lasting effects. In this most recent earthquake, news sources reported power outages and cut off water supplies. While the damage wasn’t terrible, the ensuing absence of resources could create other problems.

     

    Water

    As seen in this latest Kumamoto earthquake, these rattlings can cut off your water supply, be it a broken water main or some other way.

    Broken Water Main Cleaning up after a broken water main caused by an earthquake - Photo by Beth Schlanker

    Without water, it will be much more difficult to remain healthy and strong. And during an emergency such as this, you’re going to need all the health and strength you can get. Hopefully you have water stored in barrels, jugs, or other containers to keep yourself hydrated until your water comes back on. If not, there are other ways to collect drinking water.

    Gather extra emergency water from ice cubes, toilet tanks (make sure there is no sanitizer or other chemicals in it), or even your water heater. Some sources of water may need to be filtered and treated (such as from the water heater), but at least in an emergency you will have a little extra water to keep you going.

    Aside from drinking, sewage lines may be damaged, so before flushing your toilet, be sure to make sure those lines aren’t damaged. Otherwise it could make a big mess. Likewise, if your water pipes are broken, you may need to turn off your water at the main valve. Failure to do this could result in a flooded home.

     

    Power

    Earthquakes have a nasty habit of knocking out power when they strike. If this happens during the day, that’s not so terrible. But when it happens at night, that’s when things can get scary.

    No power means no light, and when buildings collapse and bookshelves and other unsecured belongings crash to the ground, it becomes something of a minefield. Broken glass, bits of brick and stone and other small and large shrapnel on the ground can become hazards when trying to evacuate a building or otherwise navigate in and out of doors.

    Downed Power Lines - via News on 6 Photo via News on 6

    There may be downed power lines following the shaking. Steer clear of these, and do not try to move them. They could still be live and touching one could have deadly consequences.

    No power also means more difficulty in keeping your food fresh. Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors shut as much as possible to keep the cold air contained. Next, use your most perishable foods first. Doing this will help spread out your food usage longer than just eating what sounds good at the time.

     

    Gas

    While not necessarily mentioned as something that was a problem after this Japan earthquake, it most certainly can become one. If you smell gas in your home, shut off your gas at your meter, open the windows, and leave. Only shut off your gas valve if there is a leak, because in order to get it turned back on, you’ll need someone from the gas company to come and do it for you.

    But whatever you do, don’t look for a gas leak with candles, matches, or any other open flame. Doing so could cause your house to explode.

     

    Safety First

    No matter how strong or weak an earthquake, always put the safety of you and others first. You never know what kind of damage a building has sustained, so practice caution in the wake of an earthquake. Aftershocks are also prone to happen hours, days, or even weeks after the initial quake, so it would be best not to stay in any building with compromised integrity.

     

    Earthquake Banner - Call to Action


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