If you take sensible precautions now, you and your loved ones will be much less likely to suffer from the effects of an earthquake. You want to be among those helping, not those needing help.
An earthquake is a sudden shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth's surface. Earthquake can cause buildings and bridges to collapse, down telephone and power lines, and result in fires, explosions, and landslides. Earthquake can also cause huge ocean waves, called tsunamis, which travel long distances over water until they crash into coastal areas.
Earthquakes occur most often in states west of the Rocky Mountains, though violent earthquakes have occurred in the eastern US as well. Populations in 41 states or territories are at moderate to high risk. Scientists cannot precisely predict when earthquakes will occur.
PREPARING FOR EARTHQUAKES
Look for items in your home that could become a hazard in an earthquake.
In an earthquake, keep calm and stay where you are. Most injury during earthquakes occur when people are hit by falling objects when entering or exiting buildings.
If you are indoors, take cover under a sturdy desk, table or bench, or against an inside wall, and hold on. Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors or walls and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
If your are outdoors, stay there. Move away from buildings, street lights and utility wires.
If the electricity goes out, use flashlights or battery powered lanterns. Do not use candles, matches or open flames indoors after the earthquake because of possible gas leaks.
In a moving vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits, and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses or utility wires. Then, proceed cautiously, watching for road and bridge damage.
AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE
Be prepared for aftershocks. These secondary shock-waves are usually less violent than the main quake, but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures.
Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.
Cleanup spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids inside buildings. Evacuate the building if gasoline fumes are heavy and the building is not well ventilated.
Visually inspect utility lines and appliances for damage.
If water is cut off, use water from the water heater.
Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
Use the phone only to report a life threatening emergency.
Listen to news reports for the latest emergency information.
Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for hazards created by the earthquake, such as fallen objects, downed electrical wires, weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
Stay away from damaged areas, unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire or relief organizations.
If you live near a dam, reservoirs, or other large bodies of water be aware of the potential for seiches (water which sloshes back and forth, much like in a bathtub.) A seiche may lead to dam failure or damage along shorelines. Listen to your radio for information regarding this and other important hazards.