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Earthquakes occur all over the world, often without warning. You might think you’re safe because an earthquake has never rocked your neck of the woods, but you may end up traveling in shaky regions without realizing it. Being aware of the top five ways to stay safe in an earthquake can prevent you from freaking out, which may in turn save your life.
5 Know What You’ll Do
Once you’ve made sure nothing can fall on or fly at you, discuss what you and your family will do before, during and after an earthquake. A single discussion isn’t enough either. Let’s face it, every family has at least one member who can’t remember what he ate for lunch, let alone what you discussed three months ago. Maybe it’s Grandma, maybe it’s you. Either way, the key to both of you surviving is to make sure to discuss and practice your plan regularly so that everyone knows what to do.
4 Don’t Forget the Aftershocks
When the shaking stops and you can unclench your body, don’t run around checking out the damage. Check yourself and your family for injuries and remember that aftershocks are likely to occur, in which case it is still important that you are in a safe location where you can drop under cover. Cautiously inspect for hazardous conditions, such as fire, damaged wiring, downed utility lines and gas leaks. If you need to leave your home due to fire or gas leaks, do so, but find an open space where you can wait out the aftershocks safely. Do not go near downed power lines or damaged wires. Listen to a portable or car radio for information and safety advisories.
3 Stay Calm and Find Safety
If you’re indoors when an earthquake occurs, stay there. Drop to the floor, cover yourself by moving under a table, desk or next to an interior wall and wait it out. Don’t go stand in a doorway, no matter what you’ve seen in movies, and stay away from windows, hanging objects, appliances and cabinets. If you’re outdoors when an earthquake occurs, find an open and clear area far away from buildings or overhead objects. Drop to the ground until the shaking stops. If you’re driving, pull over when you find an open space. Don’t do something crazy like stopping on or under a bridge or overpass. When you find a safe spot, turn off the ignition and set the parking break, then stay inside your vehicle until it’s over.
2 Pack an Emergency Preparedness Kit
Emergency preparedness kits aren’t just for Boy Scouts and the crazy neighbor building a bunker in his backyard. After an earthquake, you could be without electricity, water and food for days. Grab a couple of backpacks and stash at least three days’ worth of food and water, allowing a gallon of water a day per person. You’ll also need flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, medication, a multipurpose tool, copies of personal documents, and blankets. Don’t forget to pack personal hygiene products and cash. No one thinks about the value of toilet paper until it’s gone. Emergency preparedness kits are not only handy in the event of an earthquake, but they can mean survival in any disaster. The American Red Cross offers premade kits, so there’s no excuse not to have one in your home.
1 Earthquake-Proof Your Home Before Disaster Strikes
An important part of surviving an earthquake is identifying potential hazards in your home and fixing them before your house does the Harlem shake. Heavy objects like bookcases and large electronics can fall and cause injuries, so make sure these are secured to walls using sturdy anchors or brackets. Small items in your home, such as vases on high shelves or dishes, can become projectiles if the ground trembles with enough force. Store these on low shelves to prevent them from falling on you.