Earthquakes happen suddenly, violently and without warning. Recognizing potential hazards ahead of time and careful planning ahead of time can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from this natural disaster.
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Here are some ways to reduce the impact of earthquakes:
1. Check for Hazards in your Home
- Fasten shelves securely to walls.
- Secure overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling
- Fix cracks in ceilings and walls. Get expert advice, if needed.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections, as these are potential fire risks.
- Life support systems and oxygen tanks should be fastened to wall studs.
- Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store breakable items in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Hang heavy items such as paintings, pictures and mirrors away from beds and couches.
2. Prepare things at home
- Walking aids should be kept close to you all the time.
- Put security lights in every room. Make sure all of it light up automatically in case of power outage.
- Make sure you have a whistle to signal for help.
- Keep emergency supplies accessible.
3. Identify Safe Places
- Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
- Away from heavy furniture that can fall over.
- Against an inside wall.
- Away from windows, mirrors, pictures and other objects with glass as it might break
- Outdoor: away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.
4. Prepare a Disaster Kit
Remember to put the following in your emergency disaster kit:
- Water and food
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
- First aid kit and manual.
- Extra pair of eyeglasses
- Essential medicines
- List of medications, allergies, special equipment
- Medical contact information such as names and numbers of your doctors
- Contact number of family members
- Extra batteries for hearing aids, if necessary. Be sure to replace them annually.
- Cash and credit cards
Keep in mind that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. It is very important to reduce your movements to a few steps to a safe place and to stay indoors until the shaking is over.
Things to do when indoors:
- If you are in bed, remain in bed. Be sure to protect your head with a pillow.
- If you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall, move to the nearest safe place.
- Go under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture until the shaking stops.
- If there is no table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and things that can fall.
- Stay inside until shaking stops.
- Before you exit, ensure that it is safe to do so by scanning the area. Studies show that most injuries happen when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside or try to leave the structure.
- Never use the elevators.
Things to do when outdoors:
- Remain outside until the shaking stops.
- Stay away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
According to the U.S Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
If in a moving vehicle:
- Stop as quickly as possible as long as it is safe.
- Stay in your vehicle.
- Do not stop near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
- Proceed carefully once the shaking has stopped.
- Stay away from roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been destroyed.
If trapped under debris
- Never light a match.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- knock on a pipe or wall to help rescuers locate you.
- Use a whistle, if available
- Shout only as a last resort because this can cause you to inhale dust.
- Expect aftershocks.
- Turn on your portable radio or television for the latest emergency information
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Do not return home unless authorities tell you it is safe.
- Inspect utilities for any damages and turn utility off from the main source, if needed. Report gas leaks and other damages to your local utility company.
- If you evacuate, be sure to leave a note for your family member so they know where to find you.
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