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Preparing for Earthquakes
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
It is easy to make advanced preparation for most weather-related problems such as storms, flooding and even for other natural disasters such as fire. When it comes to earthquakes, however, everything changes simply because earthquakes are so unpredictable. If you live around a fault line, then you can expect to experience one at some point, but beyond that, there is no accurate prediction of when they will strike or how intense they will be.
Earthquakes generally make us think of California, but the truth is that quakes can and have occurred in all fifty states. While you canít stop one, you can take steps to minimize the threat of damage to your home.
Protect Your Family and Home
Make sure your family has an earthquake safety plan, including evacuation routes and a place to meet of premises. Likewise, become familiar with your community's earthquake safety procedures. Learn how to shut off all water and gas to your home; you'll need to do this if your home suffers damage in the quake.
Look into retrofitting your home's structure to be better able to withstand the force of an earthquake. It may seem expensive now, but that is nothing compared to paying for earthquake damage after the fact. This job should be undertaken by a professional contractor with experience in this area.
Likewise, retrofit non-structural areas of the home to protect valuables. Cabinets and bookcases may be secured to walls using mounting brackets and heavy objects such as computers, TVs, and armoires should be secured with safety straps. Picture frames and mirrors can be secured to the wall by use of closed-eye screws mounted in wall studs. Safety film should be applied to all windows to prevent it from breaking under stress and flying into the home.
What to do if an Earthquake Occurs
If an earthquake does occur, immediately take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an inside wall. Stay close to the floor until the tremor has passed. Keep your eyes covered and your head protected. Under no circumstances should you attempt to go outside during the quake. If you are caught outdoors, move into the open, away from power lines, trees, or buildings. If you are driving, stop, again somewhere in the open, avoiding bridges, trees, and power lines.
Once the quake has passed, be aware of the inevitable aftershocks, some of which may be nearly as strong as the original tremor. Pay attention to damaged utilities, avoiding loose or dangling electrical wiring. Report any such problems to the proper utility company. Turn off damaged utilities and look for potential fire hazards. Wear protective shoes as you never know what might be on the ground as a result of the quake.
Lastly, remain in your home (if it is safe) and listen for any further advisories.