Earthquakes have been shaking the Western Hemisphere quite frequently in the past few months. From Haiti to Chile and most recently Mexico, uneasiness about the tectonic plates shifting raises the ever present question of preparedness for when a quake’s epicenter is near your home.
Although building codes are strictly enforced by the government in the United States, thus reducing the risk of destruction of buildings, places without such regulation, i.e. Haiti, see long-lasting devastation.
With the peace of mind for Americans knowing that buildings have to go through a series of inspections before pupils are allowed inside, other precautions are vehemently important for personal safety.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency relays six ways in which people can plan ahead of an earthquake. Check for hazards at home, such as fastening shelves to walls and hanging heavy items away from beds, couches or anywhere else people sit.
Identify safe places indoors and outdoors, such as away from where glass can shatter, under sturdy furniture or in the open away from trees, telephone poles or expressways. Educate yourself and family members by contacting the local Red Cross about emergencies and how to turn off the gas, electricity and water inside the home.
Have disaster supplies on hand such as flashlights, portable radios, medicines, cash and sturdy shoes. Develop an emergency communication plan, such as deciding on a location for your family to meet after the disaster. Help your community get ready by conducting local ‘hazard hunts.’
During an earthquake a few tips to commit to memory are to use doorways in close proximity for shelter, stay inside until the shaking subsides, stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes and find something to grasp onto.
If outdoors stay there and move away from buildings and trees. If operating a vehicle stop as quickly as safety permits and avoid bridges and roads that have been damaged by the quake.
Once the quake has stopped rattling expect aftershocks, listen or watch for emergency information, stay away from damaged areas, inspect damage, and like any emergency help those who have been hurt by the disaster.
Earthquake preparedness is something that is easily put to the side of things to do, however in an event of an unforeseen emergency the more prepared you are the less likely you will be to encounter problems.
Recent times have shown that earthquakes happen in clusters, while Californians are used to the ground shaking, don’t let the normality of the event prevent you from taking necessary steps to help ensure your safety.