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How to Survive After an Earthquake

Remain calm.  Help others if you can.
  • Prepare yourself to feel aftershocks.
  • Listen to the radio or television to receive instructions from emergency personnel, and follow those directions.
  • Return phones to their bases and only use the phone in case of emergency.Earthquake Preparedness Kit
  • Put on sturdy shoes and clothing in order to protect yourself from injuries caused by debris, particularly broken glass.
  • Check to see if your home has sustained any severe structural damage or for any other dangers.  If you think it is unsafe, don’t go in.
  • If you need to leave your house, bring your emergency kit and other essentials with you.  Place a message in an obvious location that states where you can be located.  Don’t waste food or water as supplies may be limited.
  • Don’t use matches or turn on the lights until you’re certain that there has been no leak of gas or other flammable liquid.  Use a flashlight to check these utilities and don’t shut them off unless they are damaged.  Leaking gas will usually smell.
  • If you still have running water from the taps immediately after the earthquake, fill the bathtub and other containers in case the running water fails.  If there is no running water, remember that you can draw water from the hot water tank (make sure its not boiling before you touch it) and the toilet tank (not the bowl). 
  • Don’t flush the toilet if you suspect a damaged or failing sewage system.
  • Carefully clean any dangerous material that may have spilled.  Wear gloves and appropriate eye-wear.
  • After ensuring your safety and the safety of your family, check on your neighbors.  Organize rescue efforts if people are trapped under debris or call for emergency assistance if you can’t help them without putting yourself in danger.
  • If you have any pets, try to find and comfort them.  If you have to evacuate, bring them to a shelter that you have located in advance and that you know will accept your animals.
  • If you need help, indicate that by placing a sign in your window with the word “SOS” or “HELP” in large writing.
  • Pay attention to after effects.  Although the earthquake may be the principle source of damage, its secondary effects can be just as destructive.  These effects may include landslide, liquefaction of sandy soils, floods in lowlands, and tsunamis (tidal waves).