Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What to do before, during and after an earthquake

Living in California we are constantly aware of the potential of an earthquake creating damage and creating a dangerous conditions. We need to properly prepare to avoid greater personal damage than necessary. Below are things that may help you survive an earthquake in a better way.

"The best survival is a prepared survival." (American Red Cross)


Prepare you family:
  • Know the safe spots in each rooms: Against inside walls, under sturdy tables, desks or supported doorways. During an earthquake it will not be easy to move around.

  • Know the danger spots: Windows, mirrors, hanging objects, bookshelves, and fireplaces.

  • Practice drills (duck, cover and hold) 4 times a year or more often if small children. Physically place yourself in safe locations. Have an evacuation plan and safe meeting place outside. Practice evacuating. Establish all the possible ways to exit your house. Keep those area clear.

  • Know the locations of the nearest fire and police stations.

  • Learn First Aid and CPR from the American Red Cross or another reputable place. Teach one-two first-aid skills to a family members once a week in Family Home Evening.

  • Learn how to shut off the gas, water and electricity. Mark those areas with a noticeable water proof red tag. Make sure you have the proper shut-off wrench duck taped to the main water and gas shut off values. Teach all family members how to do this.

  • Know your children's school policy if there is an earthquake.

  • Have a contact person (family or friend) outside of the state that each family member can report to if separated. Every family member should know their name and phone number. Make sure you children's school and daycare provider have this information on file. Put in your children's Emergency Prepared kits at school.

  • If you have a family member who does not speak English, prepare and emergency card written in English indicating that person's identifications, address and any special needs such as medications or allergies. Tell that person to keep the card with them at all times.

  • Before an earthquake occurs, call your local Red Cross chapter and Office of Emergency Services to find out about their plans for emergency shelters and temporary medical centers in case of such a disaster. Also, contact your Ward Bishopric for their Emergency Preparedness plan.

  • Include your babysitter and house hold help in your plans.

  • Keep an extra pair of eyeglasses and house car keys on hand.

  • Keep a whistle and flashlight or light sticks by each bed in cause you need to call out for help and to see in the dark.

  • Keep extra cash (in small bills) and change. If electricity is out, you will not be able to use an ATM.

  • Tips for preparing Infants and Toddlers: Keep an extra Diaper Bag in the car and 72 Hour supplies for your babies--extra water, formula, bottles, food, juices, clothing, disposable diapers, baby wipes and prescribed medications.

  • Tips for preschool and school-age children: Show children the safest places to be in each room when an earthquake hits. Also show them all possible exits from each room. Use sturdy tables to teach children to Duck, Cover and Hold. Teach children what to do wherever they are during an earthquake (at school, in a tall building, outdoors and church). Make sure children's emergency cards at school are up to date. Although children should not turn off any utilities valves, it's important that they know what gas smells like. Advise children to tell an adult if they smell gas after an earthquake.

  • Tips for the Elderly and Physically Challenged: 1) Eliminate hazards-make it easy as possible to quickly get under a sturdy table or desk for protection. Identify doorways that do not have doors in which you can take cover. 2) Keep a list of medications, allergies, special equipment, names and numbers of doctors, pharmacists and family members. Make sure you have this list with you at all times. 3) Keep an extra pair of eyeglasses and medication with emergency supplies. 4) Keep walking aids near you at all times. Have extra walking aids in different rooms of the house. 5) Make sure you have a whistle to signal for help. 6) Keep extra batteries for hearing aids with your emergency supplies. Remember to replace them annually. 7) Keep extra emergency supplies at your bedside and by your wheelchair. 8) Find two people you trust who will check on you after an earthquake. Tell them your special needs. Show them how to operate any equipment you use. Show them where your emergency supplies are kept. Give them a spare key. 9) During an earthquake--1) If you are in bed or sitting down, do not get up. If you are in bed or out of your wheelchair, stay where you are and cover your head and neck. If in a wheelchair go into a doorway that doesn't have a door. If you are standing, duck and cover or sit down. You could be thrown to the floor if you are standing. 2) Prepare to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days. 3) Turn on your portable radio for instructions and news reports. For your own safety, cooperate fully with public safety officials and instructions. 4) Prepare for aftershocks. 5) If you evacuate, leave a message at your home telling family members and others where you can be found.

  • Tips for Pet Owners: 1) Store enough food and water for at least 72 hours, preferably for one week. Prepare a shelter or evacuation kit for your pet(s), including unbreakable dish, veterinarian records, a restraint (leash or pet carrier) and medications with instructions. 2) Keep your pet's ID tag up-to-date. 3) Make sure nothing can fall on your pet. 4) Arrange for a neighbor to take care of your pet if you are not able to get home after an earthquake.
Prepare your homes:
  • Learn how to shut off the gas, water and electricity (but only if lines are damaged). Mark those areas with a noticeable water proof red tag. Make sure you have the proper shut-off wrench duck taped to the main water and gas shut-off valves. Teach all family members how to do this.

  • Secure water heater and appliances to wall studs which move enough to rupture lines. You can purchase the water heater and appliance earthquake straps at Home Depot, Lowe's and other home improvement stores. Also check online.

  • Secure hanging plants and heavy picture frames or mirrors (especially over beds). Close drapes and blinds over windows at night.

  • Put latches on cabinet doors to hold closed during shaking.

  • Secure TV's, VCR's, DVD players, Stereo equipment so they do not fly off during shaking. These items become weapons with flying at you. You can purchase the earthquake straps at home improvement stores and online.

  • Secure breakable objects like vases, collectibles, figurines, etc with earthquake putty to avoid them flying around. These items become weapons when flying at you. Check with local home improvement stores and online.

  • Keep hallways clear. It is usually one of the safest places to be during an earthquake.

  • Stay away from kitchens and garages, which tend to be the most dangerous places because of the many items kept there.

  • Keep flammable or hazardous liquids such as paints, pest sprays or cleaning products in the garage or outside shed (out of children's reach).

  • Maintain emergency supplies for a 72 hours period (I say two weeks): Example-food, water, and other supplies, including flashlights, portable battery operated radio, extra batteries, medications, first-aid kits, fire extinguisher, copies of important documents in a water proof bag, emergency numbers.

  • Keep copies of important documents in your 72 Hour Kit, at home, safe deposit box, work or with a relative or friend outside of the state. Keep the original documents in a safe secure place.

  • Keep a pair of sturdy shoes and flashlight near each family members bed. Some keep the light sticks between the mattresses.

  • Move heavier items to lover shelf in closets and cupboards.

  • Take photos and a video of inside each room of your house (furniture, valuable items, inside cupboards, closets and drawers, upgrades to your house like granite counter tops, custom cabinets, etc). This is for insurance purposes. Keep a copy at home, work and with a relative or friend in another state).

  • Tips for preparing children (Infants, toddlers, preschool and school-age children): Cribs should be placed away from windows and tall, unsecured bookcases and shelves that could slide or topple. Cribs should be secured also to prevent them from rolling in front of the door blocking entrance to the room. Store strollers, wagons, blankets and cribs with appropriate wheels to evacuate infants, if necessary. Install pumper pads in cribs or bassinets to protect babies during the shaking. Install latches on all cupboards in the child's room so that nothing can fall on your baby during an earthquake.

  • Tip for the Elderly and Physically Challenged: 1) Eliminate hazards. Make it as easy as possible to quickly get under a sturdy table or desk for protection. 2) Anchor special equipment such as telephones and life support systems. Fasten tanks of gas, such as oxygen, to the wall. 3) Put a security light in each room. these lights plug into any outlet and light up automatically if there is a loss of electricity. They continue operating automatically for 4-6 hours, and they can be turned off by hand in an emergency. 4) During an earthquake (see above).
  • STAY CALM! Reassure others.

  • If indoors, stay there. Get under a sturdy table or desk and hold on. Stay away from windows or glass dividers.

  • If in bed, stay there, cover your head with the blankets.

  • If outside, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, and power lines.

  • If driving, pull your car to the side of the road if possible and stop. Drive away from underpasses/overpasses. Remain inside the car until the shaking is over.

  • If in a high-rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Move to an interior wall or get under a sturdy table or desk. Do not use the elevator, even after the shaking has stopped, use the exit stairs only. Do not run outside.

  • If in a crowded public place, do not rush for the doors or exits.

  • Tips for Pet Owners: 1) Do not try to hold onto your pet during the shaking. Animals will instinctively protect themselves and hide where they're safe. If you get in their way, even the nicest pets can turn on you. 2) Be patient with your pets after an earthquake. They get stressed just like people and need time to readjust. They may disappear for some time, but they generally show up again when things have calmed down. 3) If you have outdoor pets, you should keep them indoors until the aftershocks have subsided and they have calmed down. 4) If you must evacuate your home, leave your pet secured in a safe place. Pets will not be allowed at shelters. Be sure to leave plenty of clean water and food. If possible, visit your pet daily until you can return home. Sometimes pet evacuation centers are set up to care for your pets while you are away from home.
  • Check for all injuries. Provide first-aid. Do not move seriously injured unless in immediate danger.

  • Do not use the telephone (land lines or cell phones) unless there is a severe injury or fire. Hang up telephone if off the hook.

  • Check for safety--check for gas, water and sewage breaks/leaks; check for downed electric lines and shorts,; turn off appropriate utilities; check for building damage and potential safety problems during aftershocks such as cracks around chimney and foundation.

  • Check for fires. Put out with a fire extinguisher.

  • Do not light a match or turn on light switch. Use a flashlight.

  • Clean up dangerous spills and hazardous materials.

  • Wear sturdy shoes.

  • Turn on radio and listen for instructions form public safety agencies. Cooperate fully with public safety officials. KORG 1190 AM * KWIZ 96.7 FM * KWIZ 1480 AM-Spanish

  • Check food and water supplies. Emergency water may be obtained from water heaters, melted ice cubes, toilet tanks, canned vegetables and stored water containers.

  • Do not go without food or water too long: avoid opened containers near shattered glass.

  • Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency. Keep streets clear.

  • Be prepared for aftershocks. Don't panic, stay calm and lend a hand to others.

  • Stay out of dangerous areas--never go to the beach to watch for a tsunami (giant sea waves).

  • Check on neighbors.

14 survival items to keep on hand (Amercian Red Cross suggestion)

"1. Portable radio with extra batteries

2. Flashlight with extra batteries

3. First Aid Kit--including specific medications needed for household members

4. First Aid Book

5. Fire Extinguisher

6. Adjustable wrench for turning off gas and water

7. Smoke detectors properly installed

8. Portable fire escape ladder for homes/apartments with multiple floors

9. Bottled water--sufficient for the number of members in your household for two weeks

10. Canned and dried foods sufficient for a week for each member of your household. Note: Both water and food should be rotated into normal meals of household so as to keep freshness

11. Non-electric can opener

12. Portable stove such as butane or charcoal. Note: Use of such stoves should not take place until it is determined that there is no gas leak in the area. Charcoal should be burned only out of doors. Use of charcoal indoors will lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

13. Matches

14. Telephone numbers of police, fire and doctor"

Also, some type of shelter if you cannot stay in your house due to damages.


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