7 Steps for Earthquake Preparedness
According to the Earthquake Country Alliance based in Southern California, there are 7 major steps to take for earthquake safety:
- Secure it now! Conduct a "hazard hunt" to help identify and fix things such as unsecured televisions, computers, bookcases, furniture, unstrapped water heaters, etc. Securing these items now will help to protect you tomorrow.
- Make a plan. Planning for an earthquake is not much different from planning for a party or vacation. Make sure that your emergency plan includes evacuation and reunion plans; your out-of-state contact person's name and number; the location of your emergency supplies and other pertinent information.
- Make disaster kits. Everyone should have a disaster supply kit stored in accessible locations at home, at work and in your vehicle. Having emergency supplies readily available can reduce the impact of an earthquake. Your disaster supplies kits should include food, water, flashlights, portable radios, batteries, a first aid kit, cash, extra medications, a whistle, fire extinguisher, etc.
Is your place safe? Most houses are not as safe as they could be. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, there are things that you can do to improve the structural integrity of your home. Some of the things that you might consider checking include inadequate foundations, unbraced cripple walls (a short wall built upon the foundation of a house that produces a high crawlspace), soft first stories (click here for details), unreinforced masonry and vulnerable pipes. Consult a contractor or engineer to help you identify your building's weaknesses and begin to fix them now.
- Drop, cover, and hold on! Learn what to do during an earthquake, whether you're at home, at work, at school or just out and about. Taking the proper actions, such as "Drop, Cover, and Hold On", can save lives and reduce your risk of death or injury. During earthquakes, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly. Be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.
- Check it out. One of the first things you should do following a major disaster is to check for injuries and damages that need immediate attention. Make sure you are trained in first aid and in damage assessment techniques. You should be able to administer first aid and to identify hazards such as damaged gas, water, sewage and electrical lines.
- Communicate and recover. Following a major disaster, communication will be an important step in your recovery efforts. Turn on your portable radio for information and safety advisories. For most Presidential declared disasters, resources will also be available from federal, state, and local government agencies.
Communication After an Earthquake
Your cell phone is only as useful as its power - both in its battery and service through your carrier. Natural disasters have shown us time after time that cell phone towers are not invincible. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods can damage and even destroy them, making cell phones completely useless. Also, in the United States, there is no requirement for cell phone companies to have systems to keep them online (including the towers) when the electricity goes out. Although some towers may have limited backup power ability, they are not required to do so.
Cell phone towers can also get crowded and deny others the ability to make calls, which would likely happen in an emergency. Landlines, however, can be used in the same situations and they work fine.
Cell phones are great tools for calling for help if your car breaks down or sending texts to announce the new baby. But for natural disasters, it's best to have a landline phone. They are much more reliable in extreme situations and do not need to be charged. Plus, the service costs less per month than a night out to dinner and a movie!