An earthquake can strike at any moment, which is why always being prepared in advance is critical. Unlike other natural disasters, earthquakes strike without warning. However, if you live in an area with higher risk - you can act now to protect you and your loved ones from the unimaginable.
Earthquakes are a result of powerful movements of rocks with the earth’s crust. This creates seismic waves that travel through the earth. Higher risk areas include: California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Mississippi Valley. But according to FEMA, all fifty states and five U.S. territories are at risk for an earthquake.
What to Expect During an Earthquake
These last a few seconds and represent no imminent emergency risk. Ceiling lights may shake and you might feel a slight quiver under your feet.
These last up to several minutes and indicate a natural disaster if you’re near a densely populated area. The ground or floor will move violently and you’ll feel dizzy and unable to walk.
We get it - thinking about a potential earthquake is scary. Nobody wishes for one to happen. But just imagine how it is on the other side - you don’t want to have endless “what ifs”. It’s much more productive and helpful to prepare than to worry.
So how do you prepare for something as unpredictable as an earthquake? You plan ahead! Here are some important tips for staying safe and ready in the event of an earthquake.
How to Prepare for an Earthquake
Make a plan
Discuss possible evacuation with your family and what that would look like. Instead of another Family Movie Night, sketch a floor plan of your home and identify an escape route for each room. Walk through together and discuss the safest places to take cover, such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows and bookcases.
Know how to react safely
Practice, practice, practice! Prepare everyone to react to an earthquake with DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. Do this with your family members in each safe place to ensure everyone knows how to protect themselves.
React as soon as earthquake shaking begins. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) will provide emergency alerts when necessary. Listen to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio or tune in to local news for real-time updates.
Secure your home
Ensure your house structure is ready: inside and outside. Review your insurance plan. Check that your building is anchored to its foundation and complies with your area’s seismic building standards and land codes.
Double check and secure anything that hangs on a wall, like TVs, monitors, bookcases and art. Opt for storing heavier, more breakable items on lower shelves. Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
Secure your water heater, fridge and gas appliances by bolting them to the floor or the wall. Have a professional install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy to do so in an emergency.
Have supplies ready
What’s an even better way to alleviate stress of the unpredictable? Create a plan and practice it with your JUDY ready-made kit! Having disaster supplies on hand will get you and your loved ones through an emergency.
What to do During an Earthquake
If you’re inside
- Drop, cover and hold on under a table or desk ASAP. Try to protect your head and torso as much as possible. Move as little as possible.
- Stay away from windows, light fixtures and heavy furniture that could fall on you. Do not stand in a doorway.
- If you’re in bed - stay there, curl up, hold on and cover your head.
- If you smell gas, get out of the house.
- Stay indoors until the shaking stops until you’re sure it’s safe to exit. If you have to leave a building after the shaking stops, use stairs instead of the elevator.
If you’re outside
- Find a clear spot and drop to the ground. Stay put until the shaking stops.
- Get as far away from buildings, power lines, trees and street lights.
- if you’re in a vehicle pull over to a clear location and stop. If possible, avoid bridges, overpasses, and power lines
- If you’re in a mountainous area, be aware of your surroundings for falling rocks and landslides.
How to Stay Safe After an Earthquake
- Only return home when authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Expect aftershocks to occur minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake. Prepare for aftermath events such as landslides and tsunamis if you live on a coast.
- Examine yourself and others for injuries. Administer first aid or get emergency assistance if needed.
- Look for structural damage and other hazards in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
- Check in with your neighbours and loved ones. People want to know that you’re okay!
Are You Earthquake Ready?
Get ready to always be prepared! Have the peace of mind that you’ll know what to do in the event of an unpredictable earthquake. It’s worth it to keep you and your family safe. We’ve got your back!
If you have additional questions, send them our way!