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Surviving anEarthquake

Updated on January 17, 2011
Taken from earthquake in Coalingua, California.  The reason you don't want to run outside in an earthquake is to avoid falling debris.  You could be hit by these bricks when running out of the building.  Not all the debris falls inside.
Taken from earthquake in Coalingua, California. The reason you don't want to run outside in an earthquake is to avoid falling debris. You could be hit by these bricks when running out of the building. Not all the debris falls inside. | Source

I grew up in California

I've also lived through a couple of earthquakes. The one I remember most clearly was a 6.0 in Southern California. I lived in an older mobile home at the time. At first, I thought it was the garbage truck. There was a rumbling sound and the mobile started shaking. It did that every morning when the garbage truck went by. I worked a night shift and was still asleep when it started. My first reaction was to roll over and put the covers over my head.

Instead of going away, the rumbling and shaking got worse. I think on the news they said it lasted 10 seconds. It felt like half an hour!

Fortunately nothing fell down. A couple people told me afterwards that even the bed covers were a good idea because they could protect me from breaking glass (like from the window by the bed).

One of the things they taught us in school was not to run out of the building. Once things start shaking the greatest danger is that something will fall on you. Running around your house to get outside exposes you to more possible dangers. The best option is to get to a door frame, or under a sturdy piece of furniture. That way if the building falls you have some protection. You also need to consider what will protect you from sharp objects or broken glass. These days, because of changes in how houses are built, furniture is the recommended thing to hide under.

Look around your home and identify areas that are well reinforced, or objects that might keep debris from falling on you. It's a good idea to have "earthquake drills" so that you will know where to head from various parts of your home in a real earthquake. Once the ground starts shaking, you don't think very clearly at all.

As far as where to put your emergency supplies, I would look for an area like that in your home for the emergency supplies. Closets are probably good as they have extra framing for the doors and walls that are so close together. The main thing is that you don't want your supplies crushed by falling debris. You might have to dig in to find them after the earthquake if it was really bad. Look for places where your emergency supplies won't fall or be crushed. Also consider broken water or gas lines. Will your survival equipment be safe from flooding and accessible if the worst happens?

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After the Earthquake

The earthquakes I've been in shook things off shelves, but no buildings collapsed.

People are scared and disoriented after a quake. Having supplies on hand will help get through that time.

Also in major quakes roads may be damaged and stores closed. There can be trouble communicating and traveling for days afterwards.

Having an emergency supply on hand will give you the things you need to survive those few days when normal services may be interrupted. Keep this in mind as you look for a place to store your emergency kit. The exact location is much less important than that you will have the things you need if you can't get out of your house for a few days.

Things to Include in Your Survival Kit

  • Water. Store a gallon a day for each person for at least 3 days.
  • Food. Canned goods or dried foods, enough for 3 days. A lot of survival kits include things like MRE's or "emergency bars" that have lots of calories but not much taste. You may be better off to keep non-perishable food you like to eat. Food supply should be rotated so nothing is over a year old. Don't forget some pet food if you have pets.
  • First Aid Kit & Handbook. It's best to have one in your home and another in your car.
  • Tools. Fire extinguisher, crescent wrench and pipe wrenches so you can turn off water and gas if needed, flashlights or lanterns, extra batteries, matches, a utility knife, portable radio, can opener (not electric unless you have a generator too), non-breakable eating and drinking utensils, camp stove, toilet paper, shovel, and heavy duty plastic bags.
  • Clothes and Bedding. Keep extra blankets, clothes...including rainproof/waterproof coats and boots handy. A tent would be a plus in case you can't stay in your house afterwards.
  • Copy your important papers and documents and keep them in a fire-proof box.

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