Friday, March 5, 2010

Earthquake preparedness from Emergency Essentials

This is Emergency Essentials latest post on their blog!

Earthquake Preparedness

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there have been 5 major earthquakes worldwide so far in 2010:
  • 1/12/10, Haiti, 7.0 magnitude
  • 2/4/10, Offshore Northern California, 5.9 magnitude
  • 2/18/10, China-Russia-N. Korea border, 6.9 magnitude
  • 2/26/10, Ryukyu Islands Japan, 7.0 magnitude
  • 2/27/10, Offshore Chile, 8.8 magnitude
Earthquakes can be very dangerous and can occur at any time of the year. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the chances of death, serious injury, or property damage.
According to the Earthquake Country Alliance based in Southern California, there are 7 major steps to take for earthquake safety:

  1. Secure it now! Conduct a "hazard hunt" to help identify and fix things such as unsecured televisions, computers, bookcases, furniture, unstrapped water heaters, etc. Securing these items now will help to protect you tomorrow.
  2. Make a plan. Planning for an earthquake is not much different from planning for a party or vacation. Make sure that your emergency plan includes evacuation and reunion plans; your out-of-state contact person's name and number; the location of your emergency supplies and other pertinent information.
  3. Make disaster kits. Everyone should have a disaster supply kit stored in accessible locations at home, at work and in your vehicle. Having emergency supplies readily available can reduce the impact of an earthquake. Your disaster supplies kits should include food, water, flashlights, portable radios, batteries, a first aid kit, cash, extra medications, a whistle, fire extinguisher, etc.
  4. Is your place safe? Most houses are not as safe as they could be. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, there are things that you can do to improve the structural integrity of your home. Some of the things that you might consider checking include inadequate foundations, unbraced cripple walls (a short wall built upon the foundation of a house that produces a high crawlspace), soft first stories (click here for details), unreinforced masonry and vulnerable pipes. Consult a contractor or engineer to help you identify your building's weaknesses and begin to fix them now.
  5. Drop, cover, and hold on! Learn what to do during an earthquake, whether you're at home, at work, at school or just out and about. Taking the proper actions, such as "Drop, Cover, and Hold On", can save lives and reduce your risk of death or injury. During earthquakes, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly. Be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.
  6. Check it out. One of the first things you should do following a major disaster is to check for injuries and damages that need immediate attention. Make sure you are trained in first aid and in damage assessment techniques. You should be able to administer first aid and to identify hazards such as damaged gas, water, sewage and electrical lines.
  7. Communicate and recover. Following a major disaster, communication will be an important step in your recovery efforts. Turn on your portable radio for information and safety advisories. For most Presidential declared disasters, resources will also be available from federal, state, and local government agencies.
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Another great resource for earthquake safety and preparedness is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This is a very comprehensive site concerning disaster preparedness. You can also find additional information at the U.S. Geological Survey website.
Keep in mind that the best way to survive an earthquake is to be prepared for it. You can have greater confidence in being safe by knowing that you have made preparations for natural disasters that may come your way.