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Earthquakes come suddenly, violently, and without warning. You need to find dangers ahead of time. And you need to plan ahead. Then you can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. The following things will reduce the impact of earthquakes on your home. Repair deep cracks in ceilings and foundations. Securely attach overhead lights to the ceiling. Follow local earthquake building standards.
Six Ways to Plan Ahead
1. Check for dangers in the home.
- Attach shelves securely to walls.
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store easily broken items such as bottled foods, glass, and plates in low, closed cabinets. Secure these cabinets shut.
- Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and places where people sit.
- Secure overhead lights.
- Repair bad electrical wiring and weak gas connections. These are fire risks.
- Secure your water heater by attaching it to a solid part of a wall. Strongly attach it to the floor.
- Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural weaknesses.
- Keep poisonous products and products that easily catch fire in closed cabinets that you can secure shut.
2. Find safe places indoors and outdoors.
- Under strong furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
- Against an inside wall.
- Away from where glass could break 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, and bridges.
3. Educate yourself and your family members.
- Contact your local emergency management office or local Red Cross 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 the police or fire department and which radio station to use to for emergency information.
- Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
4. Have disaster supplies on hand.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
- First aid kit and instructions.
- Emergency food and water.
- Can opener (not electric).
- Essential medicines.
- Cash and credit cards.
- Strong shoes.
5. Develop an emergency communication plan.
- In case family members are separated during an earthquake (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.
6. 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 Red Cross, and hospitals.
- Hold a week-long series on locating dangers in the home.
- Work with local emergency services and Red Cross officials to prepare special reports for people who cannot easily move.
- Help them prepare what to do during an earthquake.
- Give advice on practicing for earthquakes in the home.
- Interview representatives of the gas, electric, and water companies about shutting off their services.
- Work together in your community with building codes, building stability programs, danger hunts, and neighborhood and family emergency plans.
This post is adapted from the website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).