If an earthquake rocks your city, will you have prepared yourself, your family, and your home for life after the quake? Knowing what to do before, during, and after an earthquake is essential. FEMA.gov has a prepared a comprehensive list of earthquake preparedness items from which I borrow.
Before The Quake
First and foremost, prepare your family. 72-hour kits are a must have for any disaster. Your 72-hour kit should supply you with enough resources so you and your family will make it through the first three days following a major earthquake. A good kit includes:
- Non-perishable food (MREs are always a good 72-hour kit option)
- First aid kit
- Blanket (keeps out the cold, can be used as an impromptu shelter)
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Books, toys, games for kids (OK, and for adults, too. Don’t forget my Star Wars toys!)
- Complete change of clothing
- Portable radio (runs on batteries or other alternate source of energy, such as solar or hand-crank)
- Important documents and cash (ATMs and bank systems may be offline)
- Special needs (diapers, medications, prescriptions, etc.)
Of course, there are many other things you could put in your emergency 72-hour kit. For a more in-depth look at what you could put in your 72-hour kit, check out ready.gov’s list for a basic disaster supplies kit. Or, take a look at some of our pre-built emergency kits and specialized disaster kits, such as our earthquake emergency kit.
Also before an earthquake, make sure you secure anything that could tumble to the ground. This includes TVs, microwaves, computers, and other electronics. Don’t forget to anchor your bookshelves to the walls. Other things to anchor securely are filing cabinets, china cabinets, and tall furniture. Avoid placing heavy objects about your bed or other areas in which you may be sitting. For a full list of ways to prepare before an earthquake, ready.gov has a great article you can look into.
During the Quake
As the saying goes, “Drop, cover, and hold on, Nelly!”
This is fairly self-explanatory (except for maybe who Nelly is). Basically, you’ll want to:
- Drop to your hands and knees.
- Cover your head and neck with your arms. This will help protect you from falling objects.
- Hold on to anything sturdy until the shaking stops (Let me clarify – until the earth stops shaking. You might be shaking for a while afterwards. That is called adrenaline and is normal.)
- Stay away from windows, glass, and anything that could fall (ie. light fixtures and furniture)
- If you are trapped under debris:
- Do not light a match.
- Use clothing or handkerchief to cover your mouth to avoid breathing in dust and other debris.
- If you are in a car, stay inside until the tremors are over.
After the Quake
Although the earthquake has stopped, there are still dangers. Make sure you proceed with caution in the immediate aftermath of the quake.
- Check for injuries.
- Wear shoes to avoid cutting your feet on broken glass or other debris.
- Do not turn on lights or use electrical appliances inside your home until you know there is no gas leak. When using a flashlight, turn it on outside the home (flashlight battery could create a spark that could ignite gas if there is a leak).
- Use cellular network to communicate. Texting can sometimes get through busy networks where phone calls fail.
Of course, there are always more things to be aware of and keep in mind than what any one person can write down. By using caution you can avoid other unpleasantries and injuries, so be sure to stop and think about the safest way to approach each scenario as you come to them.
Earthquakes can be devastating, but with the proper preparation and knowledge, you can still be safe and comfortable during the days that follow. Take the time to prepare now, so when an earthquake does happen, you will be ready and able to help yourself, your family, and your community.