Be Well Prepared Challenge #5: Earthquake Preparation and Survival

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Earthquakes happen all the time. In fact, the USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. Many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes. The NEIC now locates about 50 earthquakes each day, or about 20,000 a year. With so many earthquakes occurring on a daily basis, it’s only a matter of time before one strikes near your home and it’s important to be well prepared for if and when that happens. There are some steps you can take to make sure you’re better prepared before, during, and after the next earthquake.

Make Your Home or Workplace More Secure

Before the next earthquake occurs, move furniture such as bookcases away from your beds, sofas, or other places where people sit, sleep, or spend a lot of time. Secure kitchen cabinets with locks or fasteners so they won’t open as easily and cause dishes to fall. Move heavy objects to lower shelves or into drawers. Also, be sure to move anything that can cause injury away from doors and escape routes wherever possible.

Plan Ahead and Practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”

As with any natural or manmade disaster, it’s important to have a plan in place for helping yourself and helping others.

Keeping Yourself and Your Family Protected – The most important thing to do is practice “drop, cover, and hold on” (see below). Identify any safe spots where you can hide and make sure there’s something sturdy for you to get under if you need to. Work with your family to plan ahead on a safe house to report to, how to communicate, and what to do if you’re apart. Pack an earthquake survival kit. Keep these supplies in easy-to-access locations. Also, it’s a good idea to get insurance on your property and yourself.

Helping Others – Check with your local community to see if there’s a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), take a first aid course. Help others evacuate if necessary, help the injured get to safe places, and preventing further injuries or damage. Help rebuild the community wherever possible; survival is easier with a group effort.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On

It’s important to practice keeping yourself safe in the event of an earthquake by practicing “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.”

First, drop to your hands and knees to prevent yourself from falling. Next cover your head and neck with both arms to protect yourself, clasping your neck with your hands. Crawl under a sturdy desk or table. Do not crawl into a doorway — it’s a common misconception that doorways are safe in earthquakes. Finally, hold on to the object you’re hiding under or to your head and neck until the shaking stops. If your shelter moves during the shaking, move with it if necessary to stay protected.

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