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How to Prepare for an Earthquake

WDeluxe Emergency Kite spend much of our lives preparing. Choosing colleges, buying a home or planning retirement, all require thought and planning. But how much time do we invest preparing for “worst case scenarios”? If the truth be told, many of us don’t devote nearly enough in this pursuit. Developing a plan for emergency situations, such as earthquakes, isn’t difficult nor is it arduous. In most cases, though, it’s equally as important as any other long-term preparations.

California is known for quakes, but nearly every state has the potential to experience the shaking of a moderate to severe earthquake- either originating within their state.

Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes and other serious situations, an earthquake gives no warning signs. When the shaking begins, it’s impossible to tell how severe the quake will become and far too late to prepare for its effects. Areas hit by earthquakes of 7.0 magnitudes and above, can undergo critical widespread damage to infrastructure and communications. Even a less intense quake in an urban area can suffer a high toll due to dense population, building conditions and poor planning. It is likely communities can be without power, drinking water and food for extended periods, even with minimal damages otherwise.

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Preparing for an earthquake in many respects is similar to all emergency planning. Providing food, water and shelter are paramount. Other areas, such as securing belongings or survival techniques for ground motion, are indigenous to this specific disaster.

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Earthquake readiness tips are:

1.Learn the proper methods to survive. “Drop, Cover and Hold On” is considered by experts the best overall strategy for action during the quake. Earthquakes may knock you off your feet, so it’s best to drop down to the floor. Find a large heavy object to protect your head, (such as a table or desk) and crawl underneath. Quakes toss furniture around. Don’t become trapped between heavy items. Holding onto the item and moving with this will help prevent injury. Avoid windows, areas by large hanging items, elevators and stairways. Don’t stand in doorways or try to leave the building. Many injuries occur when people attempt to leave and are struck by falling objects. Stay low and protected. Teach your family this and practice in different scenarios around your home.

2.Fasten shelves to walls. Store heavy or breakables objects in closed cabinets, as low as possible.

3.Secure refrigerators, appliances, bookcases and other heavy items.

4.Anchor water heater by strapping to wall studs and bolt to flooring. Know where shut-offs are located and how to turn off all utilities. Train family members in this. Keep tools, such as crescent wrenches, available for this purpose.

5.Evaluate where hanging objects are placed. Mirrors, pictures or other wall hangings near seating or sleeping areas could fall and strike people. Arrange these items so they do not pose a fall hazard to those below. Brace hanging light fixtures.

6. Never store flammables or poisons near open sources of ignition, such as furnaces, water heaters or other appliances. The best place to keep these items is in a low latched cabinet away from flame potential.

7.Walk around property and evaluate structural defects like cracks or crumbling foundation. Repair these.

8.Keep emergency kits handy. Never store all your supplies in one location. If possible, keep supplies in several areas.
9. Emergency kits should contain:
  • Water - 1 gallon/per person, per day. Keep at least 3 days of water supplied.
  • Food- Choose non-perishable items, such as granola or energy bars, canned meals, tuna, or soups, peanut butter, crackers, trail mix. Infants or pets should have supplies as well. Include manual can opener, pot or pans for heating, paper plates/utensils and sterno cans for heating. BUT do not use any source of flame unless you are certain there is no risk of gas leaks. 137 Piece First Aid Kit
  • First Aid Kit with a manual. Bear in mind that rescue workers may not be able to reach you for extended periods of time. You may have to perform basic first aid, CPR and life saving skills. Don’t mince on your first aid kit for emergencies. Make sure it’s well stocked. Know how to use each item. Consider taking a first aid or CPR class in advance.
  • Blankets, warm clothing, gloves, dust masks, sturdy shoes. (store these in large, waterproof bags or containers)
  • Prescription medication, spare contacts or eye glasses, flashlights, candles, matches, extra batteries, trash bags, ABC fire extinguishers, portable radio, waterproof tarp, disinfectant wipes, toothpaste/toothbrushes, personal care items, (deodorant, soap, shampoo, feminine products), toilet paper.
  • Plain household bleach for disinfecting, plus containers to store water.
  • Tools, such as pliers, hammer, rope, duct tape, ax, shovel, sharp knife and crescent wrench.
  • A small amount of cash, extra car keys, copies of driver’s license(s) and insurance papers.
  • Paper and pen, plus books, cards or small stuffed animals to pass the time and for comforting children.

10.Create emergency communications procedures in case family members are separated. Write this information down on cards for children’s backpacks. Keep copies in the home and in vehicles. Along with local numbers and meeting places, include an out-of-state contact. If your family is separated and local phone lines are down or congested, it may be possible to get word to this out-of-state person via American Red Cross or emergency workers. Train the whole family to check in this way, as well as reinforcing 911 situations with children.

You’ll find that preparing isn’t too difficult if you take this list and break it into quarterly jobs. Inspect your property every season to make sure items are secure. Pick up a few supplies every time you go to the store. Grab one extra item each week and you’ll gather the required kit easily. Replace food periodically. Don’t skimp on first aid kit(s). Pick high quality ones that offer pain meds, plenty of bandages, a good first aid manual and a range of treatment for burns, cuts, insect bites, etc. Above all, stay calm. Most emergencies are made worse by panic. If you are well prepared and calm, you’ll fare much better in an earthquake or any emergency that presents itself.