Unlike most natural disasters, there is usually no warning when an earthquake strikes. Earthquakes come out of nowhere and can cause untold damage. While most earthquakes are barely noticeable, some are deadly. Earthquakes occur along fault lines. Pressure builds up in the ground over a long period of time. Eventually, the pressure becomes too intense and the ground shifts, causing the ground to move and shake. Occasionally, an earthquake is the result of a volcanic eruption.
If you live along a fault line, there are a few things you should do to be prepared for an emergency. Have a meeting place set up with your family. Take the time to explain to your children what an earthquake is and what they should do if one occurs. Have emergency supplies available at all times. Canned food, can opener, and freshwater are essential. Don’t forget to have a stocked first aid kit and medications. You should also have a battery-powered radio, flashlights, batteries, and blankets. If you have pets have supplies for them as well.
Here are some important things to do if you find yourself in an earthquake. The most important thing to remember is to remain as calm as possible.
Find something heavy and sturdy and climb underneath. Try to find a desk, table, or bed. Do not move more than five feet from where you are if at all possible. Once you find something to climb under, stay put and hold on. Try to stay away from windows and mirrors that may shatter. Stay clear of heavy objects that may fall on you and avoid the kitchen. Kitchens are full of dangerous objects that may fall out of cupboards and drawers. If you can reach something such as a blanket or a pillow, use it to cover your head as you kneel down. If you can’t find anything, use your hands to protect your head and your neck.
If you are on the ground floor, do not go outside. Falling debris can hit you as you try to exit the building. If you are on the second floor, do not attempt to go downstairs. Stairways are very susceptible to collapsing.
If you are in an office building, do not attempt to exit and do not use elevators. If you are inside a crowded arena or movie theater, do not try to leave. Stay at your seat and get on the floor. Use your jacket, purse, or your hands to cover and protect your head and neck. If you are not in your seat, move away from areas that have glass or mirrors. Take the same precautions as you would in any other indoor area.
Move to an open area if you can. Try to find a space that is free from telephone poles, power lines, and other things that may fall and hit you. If you are walking on a sidewalk near tall buildings when an earthquake hits, stand underneath the nearest doorframe to avoid falling debris. If you have a briefcase or a purse, use it to shield your head.
When you are near a beach, walk inland as far as you can. If you are near a river, move away from the banks.
If you are in the mountains, watch out for falling rocks and landslides. Also be aware that cliffs may become unstable and fall. Move away from such areas.
Inside a Vehicle
Stop if it is safe to do so and stay in your vehicle. Do not stop on bridges, in tunnels, or near underpasses. Try to avoid power lines and telephone poles if you can by getting into the clearest position available.