Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Earthquake Preparedness

There's not much you can do when the earth starts moving. It's uncommon, it's scary, and you're pretty much helpless until it stops. There are things you can do beforehand that will mitigate much of the damage and danger, and will greatly aid in survival of yourself and your property. If you live in an earthquake zone, these are things to consider.

When the ground moves, things tip over and fall down. When things tip over and fall down, they break, and they injure or damage whatever they fall on. Anchor your bookshelves, TV stands, and any other tall furniture securely to the wall. There are limitless options on the market for doing this, allowing you to select the anchors that meet your needs. An Amazon search for "earthquake straps" yields more options than one would believe.

In particular, pay attention to gas appliances, and make sure that they're secured. Water heaters are of particular note, as they're tall and heavy and can become unstable. Use plumber's strap and screws to secure it to the wall.

Try to not hang pictures and other decorations above areas where people sit or sleep. Also, store pots and other heavy items close to the floor where they cannot fall on anyone.

During the quake itself, move away from windows and exterior walls by crouching or moving on hands and knees. Stay down and close to the wall for protection. Doorframes are no stronger than the rest of the wall, and provide less protection than a full wall, so ignore that old wives' tale about seeking shelter in a doorway.

When the shaking stops, perform a head count. If you're all there, check yourself and your people for injuries and perform first aid as necessary. If someone is missing, search for them if it is safe. If it's not safe, then cold as it sounds, you shouldn't look for them. If you do, then other people will be searching for or performing first on you. Call 911 if you're afraid that a loved one is buried in the rubble.

Speaking of which, the 911 service will be under such a heavy load that getting through is of questionable likelihood. Do not call unless you need emergency personnel sent to your location. Any other calls contribute to the excessive load on the system. Cellular towers may be similarly overloaded, so text messaging is a far more reliable method of communication with loved ones.

If you smell gas or have other utility issues/concerns, remember the lesson on utility shut-offs. Get out of any building that is dangerous, and follow any government directions that seem prudent. 

The earth may move, but you can be solid.


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