There is no way to predict exactly when or where an earthquake will occur. Seismologists can say that numerous minor to moderate earthquakes will be felt in the United States in the next year or two and that a major one will occur within the next 25 years. However, no one can say exactly where or when these quakes will happen. Therefore, if you live in earthquake country, you must be prepared. Here are some earthquake safety tips and information for you and your family. Some of these tips may save your property. All of these tips may save your life.
Preparing for an Earthquake: Basic Supplies
Your best defense against an earthquake is careful preparation. By acquainting yourself with the likely possibilities now, you'll be less likely to be unpleasantly, and possibly dangerously, surprised later.
- With no electricity, you'll need batteries. A lot of them. Keep plenty of flashlights and a portable radio at hand. It may be your only contact with the outside world for news and information.
- You'll need a fire extinguisher to stop small fires and a pipe wrench to turn off broken gas lines. Gas leaks are extremely dangerous, so take the necessary precautions. Stay alert for gas fumes, have a wrench to turn off the gas in the event of a leak, open windows for ventilation and do not use flame materials such as matches, lighters, cigarettes and candles.
- With no sewage lines, you'll need plastic bags for garbage and human waste.
- You'll need a first aid kit. It's also a good idea to keep extra prescription medications in a safe place, away from children, as well as an extra pair of eyeglasses.
Have a plan of action:
- If the quake occurs at a time when your family is not all together, where will you meet?
- If someone is injured, do you have basic knowledge of first aid?
- Frequently, power lines are knocked down. How will your family manage without power? When the lights are out, will you be able to find the supplies you need in the dark?
- Earthquakes frequently break water lines. What will you do in a water shortage?
- The phone lines will certainly be out or overloaded with life-and-death emergencies. Does your family have an emergency communication plan?
- If the sewage lines are out and you can't use the toilet, do you know what to do?
- If your gas line is broken, do you know how to shut it off?
Earthquake Safety Tips
Here's a list of rules of thumb when facing an earthquake:
Indoors (home or office):
- Go to interior doorway or seek cover under sturdy objects.
- Stay away from windows.
- Do not take elevators.
- Watch for falling debris.
- Stay out of stairwells.
- Keep calm!
After the shaking stops:
- Stay away from buildings, power lines, trees and overpasses.
- Watch for falling debris (including rocks or bridges).
- If in a car, pull over to a safe area and stay in your car.
- Keep calm!
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- Wear shoes.
- Check and attend to injuries.
- Check power line damage (gas, electric, water, sewage).
- Check for damage and potential hazards in the event of aftershocks.
- Clean up hazardous spills.
- Turn on portable radio for public safety information.
- Disinfect water (bleach or boiling). Extra water can be found in toilet tanks (not the bowls), water heaters, ice cubes, canned fruits and vegetables.
- Check food.
- Open cupboards carefully. Watch for falling objects.
- Schedule meals before foods spoil.
- Check for broken glass.
- Do not go sightseeing.
- Do not use telephone except in life/death emergencies.
- Prepare for aftershocks.
Food & Water Storage
Water is crucial.
The human body cannot survive more than a few days without it. Damaged water lines may result in contaminated water or no water at all. Your best bet is to keep plenty of bottled water on hand. Generally, each person will need between two quarts and a gallon per day. So keep 1-7 gallons per person on hand just to be safe. If there is still water in your tap, you'll need to disinfect it.
Keep canned and dry foods on hand.
Without electricity, food in the refrigerator will spoil and you may not be able to cook. Generally, canned and dry foods have a shelf life of at least one year. Keep enough food to last each member of the family for a week. Don't forget food for your pets. For your canned food, you'll need a manual can opener. You may also want to keep disposable plates, cups and utensils. Back to Top
Be sure to review all of your insurance coverages once a year including your Home, Life, Business and Auto insurance policies with your Farmer's agent.