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How to Prepare Yourself in Earthquakes

Updated on September 15, 2012

Be Prepared for Earthquakes

Earthquakes can do a lot of damage. It is important to be prepared and protect your home, your family, and yourself.
Earthquakes can do a lot of damage. It is important to be prepared and protect your home, your family, and yourself. | Source


The video on the news shows the buildings swaying, possessions falling from the walls, and people running and screaming terrorized by the uncontrollable rumbling of the earth.

Large earthquakes always make the news. Sometimes the devastation leads to mass destruction and major loss of life and injuries, and in some cases tsunamis. The recent devasting earthquakes in Japan, Haiti, Chile, Indonesia, and show the power of nature when the tectonic plates shift.

An earthquake can occur anywhere, anytime. An example of this is the earthquake that affected Virginia, and was felt along most of the east coast.

There is No Way to Predict Earthquakes

Over the last decade, clusters of major eathquakes have led seismologists to wonder if the shifting of the earth in one place is triggering other large earthquake. Scientist, such as Tom Parsons and Eric Geist of the United State Geological Survey believe that earthquakes are occuring randomly. Seismologists, who study seismic waves and earthquakes have no way to predict when and where the next major quake will happen. This leaves scientists with many unresolved questions.

Earthquakes pose dangerous threats due to the shaking and tsunami risks. Earthquakes such as the one in Japan even led to nuclear reactor accident. Earthquakes can be on shore and off shore. Onshore earthquakes primarily involve shaking and landslides and the hazards associated with this type of quake. Offshore earthquakes trigger tunamis. Additionally, aftershocks pose more risks to the areas affected by the earthquakes. Aftershocks generally occur soon after the original earthquake. Usually, they can be felt within the following 2 days afterward, but some have been recorded to continue for years. The strength and size of earthquake tend to lessen over time.

Earthquakes Have Aftershocks

It is believed aftershocks occur due to the realignment of the plates into their new position, following the initial earthquake. When the earth’s plates stop touching each other, the landscape may even change over large areas around the center of the earthquake. In the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, a particular piece of land shifted north. Aftershocks have been known to do serious damage. They have been known to crumble roads, bridges, and buildings that have been weakened by the original shift of the earth. Seimologists believe that many small quakes that occur in the eastern part of the U.S. might be aftershocks of strong earthquakes that occurred hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

As more is studied about earthquakes, large landslides are not usually followed by a long aftershock sequence. Some seismologists are studying which landslides occur from slope instability or triggered by an earthquake.
Earthquakes cause tremendous loss of life, and cost billlions of dollars. The earthquake in Japan affected hundred of thousand of people. 19,300 people lost their life. 450,000 people lot their homes. The monetary loss is estimated to be approximately $335 billion (U.S.dollars).

First Aid Kits

Set Up a First Aid Kit

If you live in an earthquake region there are things you can do to prepare yourself, your family, and your home.Because earthquakes happen unexpectedly, it is important to be prepared.

  • Have an first kit in your car and an emergency supply kit with reflector sticks, etc.
  • Have a family communication strategy in place
  • Keep a first aid kit always filled with emergency supplies in your home

Secure Your Home

  • Make sure shelves are secured to the walls
  • Put large and heavy items on the lower part of shelves
  • Put bottled foods, china and glass items low down, in closed cabinets with latches
  • Pictures, mirrors, and heavy wall items need to be fastened securely, away from beds and couches.
  • Make sure lighting fixtures are braced
  • Keep up on repairing defective electrical wiring, any leaky gas lines, deep cracks in ceilings and foundations
  • Install pipe fittings that are flexible to protect against breakage
  • Secure water heater, furnace, gas appliances, and refrigerator to the wall studs and bolting to the floor
Store chemicals and flammable products low down in a closed cabinet with a latch

Hold Practice Drills

Hold earthquake drill with your family members

  • drop, cover, and hold on
  • locate safe areas in each room, near an inside wall or under a sturdy table.

According to the Red Cross “doorways are no stronger than any other part of the structure. During an earthquake, get under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on.” It is important to seek protection from falling objects.

It is important to practice what to do in the event of an earthquake. Be sure to have safe spots in each area of your home and work to protect yourself from items that may fall. Practice with your entire family so everyone know where to go and what to do. It will even help children know what to do if you are not home should an earthquake happen. It is also important to have to know where, when and how everyone will meet up, if you are not all together when it happens. .
During your earthquake drill:

  • DROP to your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn't knock you down. You can still crawl to move around, but it won't know you down.
  • COVER your head and neck and a much of your body as possible with your arms and hands.. Put yourself in a spot that is safe like under a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter put yourself near an interior wall, or by low-lying furniture, as long as it will not fall on you. Try to stay away from windows and glass. It could shatter or things could fall on you.

Have an Evacuation Strategy

  • Discuss how you would walk through each room in order to leave in an emergency .
  • Have an alternate way to leave from each room or area, if possible. If you need special equipment, such as a rope ladder, tell everyone where it is located.
  • Let everyone know where your emergency food, water, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers are.
  • Note the location of utility switches and valves so that they can be turned off, if possible.
  • Have an outdoor meeting place so that if you get separated, everyone knows where to find each other outside of the house.

Know What You Need and What is Important to You

Write down an emergency priority information list which should include:

  • important items that you can grab and go
  • important telephone numbers
  • the names, information and telephone numbers of your insurance agents, with your policy numbers
  • the telephone numbers of the electric, gas, and water companies
  • your neighbors's phone numbers
  • vital medical information, such as regular medications, and allergies that you have.
  • the vehicle identification number, year, model, and license number of your vehicles and boats
  • your bank info

Be Prepared for Earthquakes

With all the technology science has available, earthquake are still unpredictable. It has been found that animals may be able to predict natural disasters such a earthquakes. Earthquakes and their aftershocks, are very frightening. They are unpredictable. The best anyone can do, is be prepared in an emergency situation. Having things set in place beforehand will help you get through it easier.


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    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend, this is all great and useful information that is also very valuable has well. It is always good to know these things just in case.

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 5 years ago from California

      Great tips. I'm in the process of putting things together. I haven't even started on a kit for the car though.

    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 5 years ago from Philadelphia

      Toknowinfo: No one should ever underestimate the level of destruction that an Earthquake can cause. Most of us have felt the tremor of the most recent one -- could you imagine if the number was a bit higher? Thanks for these tips. I think everyone should be prepared at all times.