You never know when a natural disaster might strike, which is why it is crucial to make sure that you are thoroughly prepared for one. Earthquakes are probably one of the most destructive natural disasters. Although they occur mostly near tectonic plate edges, they can take place just about anywhere. You may not be able to predict when an earthquake might hit your area, but when you prepare in advance and know what to do when it does strike, you increase your chances of survival by a clear margin.
Here are tips to help you make it through an earthquake.
- Have a survival plan – First of all, you need to make sure that you have a survival plan for your home. You and your family should have a plan to get to safety at a moment’s notice. Everyone in your household should know exactly where to go and what to do when an earthquake hits. They should also know where the “safe” spots in your house are – against interior walls and under strong tables and desks. Practice a safety drill every 6 months or so to make sure that everyone knows what to do when an earthquake strikes.
- Look for anything that could move or fall in your house – Ask yourself what might happen if the doors of your cupboards fly open during an earthquake, causing dishes or other items to fall across the floor. Is your stereo or TV screwed down or secured to a hard surface some other way? Are your shelves properly fastened to the walls? Are there light fixtures or hanging plants that might fall? Do you have a mirror or heavy picture hanging on the wall over your bed? Check around your house to make sure there are no hazards that could potentially harm or injure someone, such as yourself.
- Know where the danger spots are located – Make sure that all heavy and tall furniture, such as bookcases, wall units, china cabinets, and so on, are secured so that they do not topple over. Do not hang mirrors or heavy pictures over beds, couches, and anywhere people sit or sleep. Also, keep heavy objects or breakables on bottom shelves.
- Stay away from windows, appliances, and fireplaces if an earthquake hits –Make it a point to steer clear of the kitchen when there is an earthquake – it is a dangerous place where large appliances could be pushed violently or fall over from floors and walls or knife or cutlery sets that could be knocked off counters. You will also need to be wary of natural gas lines that could sprout leaks, and fill up your kitchen with flammable gas fumes. Your kitchen and fireplace will be the first place that burst into flames, if a spark erupts. If you are in an office, move away from glass windows and outdoor walls. Also, do not use the elevator even if you are in a hurry!
- Stock up on emergency supplies – It is prudent to keep emergency supplies on hand. Make sure that you include a battery operated radio and extra batteries, first aid kit, flashlights and extra batteries, bottled water, blankets, tools required to turn off your gas, cooking fuel, two weeks of food and medical supplies, electric utilities, and water.
- Move to a safe location during an earthquake – If you are indoors during an earthquake, stay there. Move quickly to a safe location in the room like under a strong table, a strong desk, or along an interior wall. Your goal should be to protect yourself from falling objects and stay near the strong structural points of the room. Again, make sure that you do not take cover near windows, hanging objects, large mirrors, heavy appliances, heavy furniture, or fireplaces.
- Move to an open area outdoors–If you are outdoors during an earthquake, move to an open area where it is unlikely that you will be struck by falling objects. Drop to the ground and using your hands and arms, cover your neck and head. Make sure that you stay away from power lines, tall buildings, electronic signs, and trees. If you are driving, slow down and stop on the side of the road. Do not stop on or under overpasses and bridges, or under large signs, trees, and power lines. You may be tempted to get out of your car but do not – stay in your car until the earthquake stops.
- Do not panic– Panicking will seldom help. If an earthquake hits when you are in a public place, simply drop to the ground and lay low. Do not rush to the exit since you could become trampled by other people doing the same, running with psychotic abandon.
On the other hand, if you are away from the city and near some rocky terrain, keep your eyes open for signs of a landslide. This same train of thought applies to snow and ice on a mountainside. If you are near the beach during an earthquake, try and get to higher ground, since tsunamis or large waves are associated with earthquakes of high magnitude and so on.
There is nothing better than being prepared so make sure that you keep some emergency supplies ready and also conduct safety drills regularly. You should have some of these emergency supplies in your car as well – such as a bottle of water to drink, for instance. With these tips, you can make sure that you, and your family, increase your chances of surviving when an earthquake strikes.