Science may not be able to predict the 100 or so earthquakes that cause damage around the world every year, but you can try to help protect your family and home from a quake’s ravages with some preparation before an earthquake occurs.
Know What To Do Before, During and After an Earthquake
Structures built to meet or exceed common building codes may better withstand an earthquake. Talk to an architect, engineer or licensed building contractor about:
- Adding anchor bolts or steel plates between your home and foundation
- Bracing your home’s cripple wall (the short, wood-stud wall between the top of the foundation wall and the first floor) with sheathing
- Bracing loose chimneys, masonry, concrete walls and foundations
There are steps you can take that may help make your home and family safer, like;
- Having a disaster plan so your family knows where to gather during an emergency.
- Placing several flashlights and fresh batteries around the house.
- Instructing adult and teen family member how to turn off electrical or gas feeds.
- Investing in a battery-operated or hand-crank radio to monitors emergency announcements.
- Anchoring large items, such as appliances, bookcases and water heaters, to walls with safety cables or straps.
- Locking the rollers of large appliances or furniture.
- Installing ledge barriers on shelves to keep objects from rolling off in a low-level quake.
- Placing heavy items on lower shelves.
- Putting safety film on windows and glass doors to minimize shattering.
- Fitting gas appliances with flexible connections or a breakaway gas shut-off device. Check local building codes to see whether the shut-off must be installed by a professional.
Your safety depends on staying calm and reacting quickly. Other tips:
- If you're indoors, stay there. Move away from windows, skylights, doors and objects that could fall.
- Gather your family for a head-count.
- Shut off all utilities.
- Find a sturdy piece of furniture, like a heavy table or solid desk, to get under. Stay there until the shaking stops.
- Be aware that sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
- Don't use elevators.
- If you're outside, move quickly and safely into the open – away from electrical lines, trees and buildings. Drop to the ground and wait for the shaking to stop.
- If you're driving, slowly pull to the side of the road away from traffic and stop. Don't stop on or under bridges, under power lines or near roadway signs that might fall. Once the shaking has stopped, drive carefully and look for debris in the road.
You still may be in danger once the shaking stops. In the aftermath of an earthquake, there can be building collapse, landslides, floods and fire.
If you're trapped under debris:
- Cover your mouth with a piece of clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can find you. If you yell, you may inhale dust or airborne debris.
- Don't light a match or lighter.
- Don't move about or kick up dust.
If you're in your home:
- Be prepared for aftershocks.
- Move around the house only if you see that it is structurally sound. Otherwise, quickly and carefully move your family outside to safety.
- Check for gas or water leaks and electrical shorts. Don’t turn utilities back on until they have been inspected by a professional.
- When it’s safe, assess and document damage before contacting your insurance company or agent.
Protect Your Family and Home
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