Earthquake Threatens Home

Problem: Home is in earthquake area, or is threatened by earthquake.

Background: Accurate predictions of earthquakes cannot be made. In the United States, earthquakes occur most often in the western states, but can occur at widely scattered locations across the country. Most casual ties result from falling objects and debris, and are caused by partial building collapse, flying glass, over turned fixtures and other furniture and appliances, fires from broken chimneys or broken gas lines, fallen power lines, and drastic actions taken in moments of panic. Consider the suggestions below for measures you can take before and during an earth quake. If your home has suffered earthquake damage.

What to do: Besides supporting community efforts to prepare for an earthquake, check your home for earthquake hazards. Bolt down or provide other strong support for water heaters and other gas appliances, because fires can result from broken gas lines and appliance connections. (Use flexible connections wherever possible.) Put large, heavy objects on lower shelves and securely fasten shelves to walls. Brace or anchor high or top-heavy objects. When building or remodeling, always follow codes to minimize earth quake hazards.
Keep a flashlight and battery- powered radio in the home, ready for use at all times. Keep family immunizations up to date. Show your family how to turn off electricity, gas, and water at main switches and valves. Hold occasional home earth quake drills so your family knows how to avoid injury and how to remain level-headed during an earth quake. Also have responsible family members receive first aid instruction because medical facilities may be overloaded immediately following a severe earthquake (check with your local Red Cross for training seminars).

Special advice: During an earth quake, try to remain calm, reassure others and think through the consequences of any action. If indoors, watch for falling plaster, bricks, light fixtures, and other objects such as high bookcases, cabinets, and shelves or other furniture that might slide or topple. Stay away from windows, mirrors, and chimneys. If in danger, crawl under a table, desk, or bed; move to a corner away from windows; or stand in a strong doorway.
Usually it is best not to run outside.
However, when outside, avoid high buildings, walls, power poles, and other objects that could fall. Don’t run through the streets. If possible, move to an open area away from hazards. If you are in a car, stop in the safest place available, preferably an open area.

Helpful hint: If an earthquake strikes while you are in a high-rise building, get under a desk. Don’t dash for exits because stairways may be broken and jammed with people, and power for elevators may fail. In crowded stores, don’t rush for a doorway since hundreds of others may have the same idea. If you must leave, choose your exit carefully.