Infrastructure Damage After An Earthquake
Not surprisingly, most people are concerned with the
immediate damage to their family and home during and after an earthquake. Basic survival will be the first order of the
day as you and your family try to escape harm.
However, even if no one is seriously hurt and your home is at least
still habitable, you may find that many services and elements of the
infrastructure are simply not available, and may not be for some time to
come. How quickly conditions will return
to normal will depend on the severity of the quake and the extent of the
Services May Not Be
The large and violent movements of the ground caused by an
earthquake will generally disrupt many of the services we have come to rely upon
for our comfort. Electric light poles
are always vulnerable to damage and in most cases, after a serious tremblor,
electric service will be severed. No
electricity means no lights, heat (in most cases), and no water – assuming that
the water mains are still intact. Those
who use land-line phones will probably be without service, as may those with
cell phones if the relay towers have been damaged or toppled. Natural gas pipelines could be broken, as
well, presenting a danger of fire or explosion.
Nearly all of our stores, including grocery stores, rely on
food and other supplies being brought in by truck. When an earthquake has struck, and supply
lines may be impacted, you will probably be startled at how quickly the shelves
are stripped bare. A major quake can
also damage local airports and train facilities, making it impossible for
supplies to be brought in until repairs have been made. Bridges can also be destroyed or damaged to
such an extent that they will be unusable.
Other sections of the infrastructure can also be negatively
impacted by an earthquake, such as power plants, especially nuclear power
plants where the possibility of harmful radiation being released is
present. Dams are another possible
danger source, and if you live downstream of a dam while living in an
earthquake zone, you might want to make sure that your plans for evacuation
have been made. Facilities that process
either sewage or hazardous industrial waste are other spots that might cause
problems should an earthquake occur.
What Can You Do?
The best thing you can do if you live in an earthquake zone
is to make sure that you and your family are prepared for the worst at all
times. You should have an adequate supply
of emergency water on hand, and the means to purify it if necessary. Food for at least a week should be safely
stored in your home, and an alternate means of heating it, even a small
portable stove, should also be in your emergency supplies.
Make sure you have a first aid kit and supplies on hand to
treat injuries and illnesses as emergency medical personnel may be unable to
reach you right away. Alternate shelter,
such as a tent, should be available as well as emergency lighting and
heating. Have several hundred dollars in
small bills stashed somewhere convenient, too.
And, lastly, make sure your car is ready in case evacuation is
needed. Plan several escape routes out of your area, too, in case your first choice is