The actual movement of the earth in an earthquake is seldom a direct cause of death or injury. However, this movement causes collapse of buildings and other structures. Most casualties result from falling objects and debris, such as falling bricks and plaster, splintering glass, toppling furniture, collapsing walls, falling pictures and mirrors, rock slides on mountains and hillsides, fallen power lines, fire resulting from broken gas lines and spillage of flammables–a danger which may be aggravated by lack of water due to broken water mains, and drastic human actions resulting from panic.
1. Check your home for earthquake hazards. Bolt down or provide strong support for water heaters and other gas appliances. Use flexible connections whenever possible. Place large and heavy objects on the lower shelves. Securely fasten shelves to the walls. Brace or anchor high or top heavy objects. Install secure cupboard closures. In new construction and alterations or additions, follow building codes to minimize earthquake hazards. Conduct calm family discussions about earthquakes and other possible disasters. DO NOT tell frightening stories about disasters. Develop a plan for reunification of your family. This should include three meeting places (two are back-up). Review frequently so that everyone knows it well.
2. Hold occasional home earthquake drills to provide your family with the knowledge to avoid injury and panic during an earthquake.
3. Teach responsible members of your family how to turn off electricity, gas, and water valves and mains.
4. Take first aid training and provide for all others possible in your family to learn first aid procedures appropriate to their level of understanding.
5. Keep supplies and medications to provide for your family for at least 72 hours. This includes food, water, clothing, flashlight and extra batteries, portable radio and extra batteries, first-aid kit, tools, soap, canned fruit juices or soft drinks, pots and pans, plastic knives, forks, spoons or old metal flatware, can opener, plastic cups (not glass), fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, toilet articles, candles and matches.
6. Keep metal box containing valuable papers (insurance policies, house inventory and pictures, wills, medical records, deeds, etc.) with emergency supplies. Store a duplicate copy outside of home, such as with a relative or in a safety deposit box.
7. Keep family auto in good repair and always at least half full of gasoline. Have a first aid kit and a two-day survival kit (for at least two people) in your car at all times.
8. Know how to properly dispose of garbage and human waste and have the materials on hand.
9. Keep immunizations up-to-date for all family members.
10. Consult an engineer as to the structural stability of your home.
DURING AN EARTHQUAKE
1. Remain calm. Think through the consequences of any action you plan to take. Try to reassure others. Watch out for high bookcases, china cabinets, shelves, and other furniture which might slide or topple. Stay away from windows, mirrors and chimneys. If in danger, get under a table, desk, or bed in a corner away from windows, or in a strong doorway. Encourage others to follow your example.
2. Do not run outside. Don’t use candles, matches, or other open flames during the tremor. Douse all fires. Grab anything handy (coat, blanket, newspapers, cardboard box, etc.) to shield your head and face from falling debris and splintering glass. If nothing else is available cup your hands over your face for protection.
3. If outside, avoid high buildings, walls, power poles, and other objects that could fall. Do not run through streets. If surrounded by buildings, take shelter in the nearest strong one. If possible, move to an open area away from all hazards. If in an automobile, stop in the safest place available, preferably an open area. Stop as quickly as safety permits, but stay in the vehicle for the shelter it offers.
4. Special preparations for the elderly. Make every action count. Stay calm and take deep breaths. Keep away from windows or other glass. Brace yourself in a doorway or inside hallway, or lower yourself to the floor and slide under a sturdy table. If you aren’t able to get to a safer area, just sit down wherever you are. Don’t try to remain standing. If you can’t move safely and quickly, stay where you are even if you are in bed. Try to protect your head and body with whatever is available–pillows, books, lap robe, your arms. If you are in a wheelchair, lock your wheel brakes. Do whatever you can to protect yourself until the shaking stops. If you have pets – particularly a guide or hearing dog — keep them securely harnessed or confined. When the quake seems over, call for help if you need it, and don’t give up. Use your whistle or flashlight; pound on walls; go to a safe window and wave a brightly colored, highly-visible object. Do anything you can to attract attention, and don’t give up!
AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE
1. Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
2. Check for fires and fire hazards.
3. Wear shoes in all areas near debris or broken glass.
4. Check utility lines and appliances for damage. If gas leaks exist, shut off the main gas valves. Shut off electrical power if there is damage to wiring. Do not use matches or lighters until it has been established that there are no gas leaks.
5. Do not turn light switches on and off. This creates sparks which can ignite gas from broken lines.
6. Clean up spilled medicines, drugs, and other potentially harmful materials immediately.
7. Draw a moderate quantity of water in case service should be disrupted. Do not draw a large quantity, as this could interfere with firefighting. If water is off, emergency water may be obtained from hot water heaters, toilet tanks, melted ice cubes, and water packed in canned vegetables, or stored water. If water pipes are damaged, shut off the water supply at the main valve.
8. Check to see that sewage lines are intact before permitting continued flushing of toilet.
9. Do not eat or drink anything from open containers near shattered glass, as they may contain glass particles. If their use is essential, such liquids may be strained through folds of a clean handkerchief or cloth.
10. Check chimneys for cracks and damage. Unnoticed damage could later lead to a destructive fire. The initial check should be made from a distance. Approach chimneys with great caution.
11. Check closets and storage shelf areas. Open closet and cupboard doors carefully to guard against objects falling.
12. Prepare for possible evacuation. Gather the 72-hour kit you have previously assembled. If your house and utilities are badly damaged, you may be living in your backyard or other neighborhood location for a few days.
13. Check your house or apartment building for structural damage and, if deemed necessary, evacuate your family until authorities declare it safe to return. Stay out of severely damaged buildings; aftershocks can topple them.
14. Do not heed or spread rumors. They often do great harm following disasters. Stay off the telephone, except to report an emergency. Turn on your radio and/or television to get latest emergency bulletins.
15. Do not go sightseeing immediately in areas where buildings have collapsed or where electric wires may be down. Keep the streets clear for passage of emergency vehicles. Be prepared for additional earthquake shocks.
16. Respond to requests for assistance from police, fire fighting, and relief organizations, but do not go into damaged areas unless your assistance has been requested. Cooperate fully with local authorities.
17. If power is off, check your freezer and plan meals to use up foods which will spoil quickly. Ice crystals remain in the center of food in a well-stocked freezer for up to three days. Plan WHAT to take out WHEN in order to limit the number of times the freezer is opened. Tape your plan on the freezer.
18. Use outdoor charcoal broilers, camping stoves, or fondue pots for emergency cooking. Be sure there is adequate ventilation.
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