What To Do Before an Earthquake

earthquake kitchen

A close family friend recently posted this picture on Facebook. This is what her kitchen looked like following the recent 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California. I decided it would be a good idea to do a series of posts about Earthquake safety as a reminder for those who may live in or near areas where an earthquake is a potential threat. (polly – blog administrator)

(Most of this material has been taken from the FEMA website, www.fema.gov 2006)

Before an Earthquake

Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. Repairing deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations, anchoring overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling, and following local seismic building standards, will help reduce the impact of earthquakes.

Six Ways to Plan Ahead:

  1. Check for Hazards in the Home
  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
  • Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.
  • Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
  1. Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors
  • Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
  • Against an inside wall.
  • Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
  • In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.
  1. Educate Yourself and Family Members
  • Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes. Also read the “How-To Series” for information on how to protect your property from earthquakes.
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
  1. Have Disaster Supplies on Hand
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Emergency food and water.
  • Non-electric can opener.
  • Essential medicines.
  • Cash and credit cards.
  • Sturdy shoes.
  1. Develop an Emergency Communication Plan
  • In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
  1. Help Your Community Get Ready
  • Publish a special section in your local newspaper with emergency information on earthquakes. Localize the information by printing the phone numbers of local emergency services offices, the American Red Cross, and hospitals.
  • Conduct a week-long series on locating hazards in the home.
  • Work with local emergency services and American Red Cross officials to prepare special reports for people with mobility impairments on what to do during an earthquake.
  • Provide tips on conducting earthquake drills in the home.
  • Interview representatives of the gas, electric, and water companies about shutting off utilities.
  • Work together in your community to apply your knowledge to building codes, retrofitting programs, hazard hunts, and neighborhood and family emergency plans.



No Comments

  1. poetslifeBruce Curley on August 29, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks for posting these steps, Polly. They are all sensible and doable. Many in the Eastern U.S. think they don’t have to worry about earthquakes, unaware of the New Madrid 1811-12 earthquakes that were larger and more destructive than the San Francisco earthquake and killed far more. Because the area consisted of remote settler communities, many perished without any record of their having perished. And the Mississippi River flowed North for 4 days. So, basically, although the West Coast gets all the media attention, most of the U.S. is exposed to potential earthquake damage. Therefore, it is best to be pro-active, as with your TACDA recommendations, with this threat as with all threats.

    • americancivildefense on September 2, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      True! I lived in California for many years and experienced several earthquakes during that time. I wouldn’t have thought it would be a concern in Utah, but come to find out – Draper sits right on a fault line. It’s probably just a matter of time. We also experienced a tornado a few years back. Mother Nature’s fury can show up when you least expect it.

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