Where were you last night at approximately 8:04 p.m.?
The strongest earthquake since the Loma Prieta quake of 1989 struck the bay area last night, a magnitude 5.6. I was at the Del Mar Theatre, watching Nosferatu. What I assumed was a large truck rumbling the building became quite a bit stronger – lasting for 30 seconds. What was really surprising was that in a town where earthquakes can be a major hazard, why did so many people head outside? It occurred to me that perhaps the last earthquake was so long ago that people have forgotten the correct steps to take to keep themselves safe in an earthquake.
Our blog has never received so many hits in one day. We are thrilled that people are reaching out to take the steps necessary to prepare themselves for the next quake. Here are some EASY steps you can take to make sure you and your family are prepared during and in the aftermath of an earthquake:
Prepare a Home Earthquake Plan
- Choose a safe place in every room–under a sturdy table or desk or against an inside wall where nothing can fall on you.
- Practice DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON at least twice a year. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there’s no table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you. Teach children to DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON!
- Choose an out-of-town family contact.
- Consult a professional to find out additional ways you can protect your home, such as bolting the house to its foundation and other structural mitigation techniques.
- Take a first aid class from your local Red Cross chapter. Keep your training current.
- Get training in how to use a fire extinguisher from your local fire department.
- Inform babysitters and caregivers of your plan.
Eliminate Hazards, Including–
- Bolting bookcases, china cabinets, and other tall furniture to wall studs.
- Installing strong latches on cupboards.
- Strapping the water heater to wall studs.
- First aid kit and essential medications.
- Canned food and can opener.
- At least three gallons of water per person.
- Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.
- Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
- Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
- Written instructions for how to turn off gas, electricity, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)
- Keeping essentials, such as a flashlight and sturdy shoes, by your bedside.
Know What to Do When the Shaking Begins
- DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON! Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit. Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
- If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.
- If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
- If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place (as described above). Stay in the car until the shaking stops.
Identify What to Do After the Shaking Stops
- Check yourself for injuries. Protect yourself from further danger by putting on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and work gloves.
- Check others for injuries. Give first aid for serious injuries.
- Look for and extinguish small fires. Eliminate fire hazards. Turn off the gas if you smell gas or think it’s leaking. (Remember, only a professional should turn it back on.)
- Listen to the radio for instructions.
- Expect aftershocks. Each time you feel one, DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON!
- Inspect your home for damage. Get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
- Use the telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies.
Learn how you can be “Red Cross Ready”
We would be thrilled to help you put together your family emergency plan! If you have any questions, give us a call at 831-462-2881.