An earthquake can strike without warning, at any time. Additionally, earthquakes are the most serious hazard facing Seattle. According to an article from the LA times, people living in California and the West Coast face the highest earthquake risk. The report found that nearly half of all Americans are threatened by earthquake shakings. That equates to nearly 150 million people who are at risk. Will you be prepared and know what to do if it happens in your area? Below are some tips to help assist you.
• Earthquake proof your home:
o The first step is to secure your belongings. A major quake can shift even the heaviest of items. Some ideas include bolting down bookcases, keep latches shut, etc.
• Create an action plan:
o The next step is to make an action plan with your family, roommates or whoever you live with. Identify the most secure spot in the home where you can meet up. It should be a room that doesn’t have items on the wall and something like heavy dining room table to sit under. In the middle of an earthquake there won’t be time to coordinate with everyone so it’s best to review this before something happens. Coordinate an evacuation plan as well.
o Of course you may not all be home at the time of an earthquake so it’s important to determine emergency protocol for your office, children’s school, etc.
o Be sure to always have an emergency kit on hand that could last you and your family, roommates, etc. for three or more days. Items important to include are water, a radio, protein bars, blankets, flashlight, extra batteries and anything else you might need in the event of an emergency.
• When an earthquake occurs; drop, cover and hold:
o Drop to the ground on all floors. Staying low is the best position.
o Cover yourself under a large, heavy piece of furniture like a table or a desk. If you don’t have access to a piece of furniture, sit against a wall that doesn’t have anything hanging on it like mirrors or picture frames. Cover your head and avoid windows as best you can.
o If you are outside, get to a clear area away from trees and power lines. If you are in a car, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Be sure to avoid overpasses and power lines.
o Hold your position. Try to grab onto something sturdy like the legs of a heavy table and stay still. Be prepared to shift with the furniture.
• Protect your home from post-tremor:
o Even after an earthquake stops, aftershocks can still do damage. Once the shaking stops it’s best to check for any damage to your home’s wiring and shut off the main breaker.
o Be sure to have a working fire extinguisher in your house at all times.
o Immediately clean up hazardous spills. Open windows for ventilation.
o If you suspect a gas leak, shut off the main valve at your gas meter immediately. Call the authorities and get everyone out of your house.
It’s best to always prepare for the worst and the potential for days without help. Be sure to review the above with your family, roommates, etc. every six months or so.