Originally posted 03-11-11.
During the night, Japan experienced an 8.9 earthquake which followed a 7.2 quake the day before. We pray for the safety of those that are affected by this incredible natural disaster.
Earthquakes are always in the back of the minds of those of us that live in areas where they are more than a possibility. Thankfully, earthquakes are a rare occurrence but because they are rare, knowing what to do during and after one is easily forgotten.
Below is information about what to do during an earthquake as well as what you can do TODAY to prepare for one's aftermath.
I realize it is a lot of information, but remember that you can eat an entire elephant one bite at a time...make it a priority to make a checklist and get your family prepared. Take it one "bite" at a time!
What to Do Before an EarthquakeEarthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. Repairing deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations, anchoring overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling, and following local seismic building standards, will help reduce the impact of earthquakes.
Six Ways to Plan Ahead
- Check for Hazards in the Home
- Fasten shelves securely to walls.
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.
- Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
- Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
- Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
- Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors
- Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
- Against an inside wall.
- Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
- In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.
- Educate Yourself and Family Members
- Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes. Also read the "How-To Series" for information on how to protect your property from earthquakes.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
- Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
- Have Disaster Supplies on Hand
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
- First aid kit and manual.
- Emergency food and water.
- Nonelectric can opener.
- Essential medicines.
- Cash and credit cards.
- Sturdy shoes.
- Develop an Emergency Communication Plan
- In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
- Help Your Community Get Ready
- Publish a special section in your local newspaper with emergency information on earthquakes. Localize the information by printing the phone numbers of local emergency services offices, the American Red Cross, and hospitals.
- Conduct a week-long series on locating hazards in the home.
- Work with local emergency services and American Red Cross officials to prepare special reports for people with mobility impairments on what to do during an earthquake.
- Provide tips on conducting earthquake drills in the home.
- Interview representatives of the gas, electric, and water companies about shutting off utilities.
- Work together in your community to apply your knowledge to building codes, retrofitting programs, hazard hunts, and neighborhood and family emergency plans.
What to Do During an EarthquakeStay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually fore-shocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
- DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a 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 anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
- Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
- Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway.
- Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
- Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
- DO NOT use the elevators.
- Stay there.
- Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. 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 safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
- Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
If trapped under debris
- Do not light a match.
- Do not move about or kick up dust.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
What to Do After an Earthquake
- Expect aftershocks.These secondary shock-waves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
- Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called "tidal waves"). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
- Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
- Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
- Inspect utilities.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
- Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
- Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
Your Earthquake Preparedness KitWATER
- Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
- Store one gallon of water per person per day. Don't forget your pets.
- Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation).
- Change this water every six months. Household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms:
- Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color-safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.
- The only agent used to treat water should be household liquid bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used.
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables.
- Canned juices, milk, soup
- Sugar, salt, pepper
- High energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix; foods that will not increase thirst.
- Foods for infants, elderly, persons with special dietary needs
- Comfort/stress foods: cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags.
- Pet food, at least one ounce per animal pound per day.
- Avoid foods like rice, pasta and dry beans that require a great deal of water to prepare. Remember to restock your food once a year.
- Dinner: Canned meat or seafood; canned spaghetti, ravioli, chili, stew, tamales. Other good choices are canned beans or other vegetables, pudding cups, and ready-to-eat soups. There are single servings of vegetarian Indian dishes in plastic pouches that have long shelf lives.
FIRST AID KIT
- Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- Assorted sizes of safety pins
- Cleansing agent/soap
- Latex gloves (2 pairs)
- 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
- 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
- Triangular bandages (3)
- Non-prescription drugs such as Pain relievers, Anti-diarrhea medicines, Antacid, Syrup of Ipecac (used to induce vomiting with the advice of a Poison Control Center), Laxatives, Activated charcoal (used with advice from the Poison Control Center)
- Various roller bandages
- Moistened towelettes
- Tongue blades (2)
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Cash or traveler's checks, in case banks are closed in the days following an earthquake
- Non-electric can opener or a utility knife
- Small fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic storage containers
- Signal flare
- Paper, pencil
- Needles, thread
- Medicine dropper
- Wrench, to turn off gas and water
- Toilet paper
- Soap, liquid detergent
- Feminine supplies
- Plastic garbage bags and ties
- Plastic bucket with tight lid
- Household chlorine bleach
- Poop bags and scooper for pet waste
- Sturdy shoes or work boots (keep near your bed)
- Rain gear
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Warm clothing
- Sunglasses (keep your spare eyeglasses in the emergency kit, too.)
- Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
- Passports, social security cards, immunization records
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card account numbers and companies
- Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
- Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Live in Victory! Lynette