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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Preparation before an earthquake strikes

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Have you ever been in an earthquake?  If the answer is yes, then you have a pretty good idea of the truthfulness of a Japanese proverb.  "A disaster comes when it is forgotten."  It means that disasters strike when you least expect them.  Earthquakes are notorious for its uninvited, unexpected, and destructive visits.  There are no warnings beforehand.  No phone calls, no e-mails, no text message to tell you it is coming.  What can you do to prepare for this "uninvited guest"?

Before an earthquake
Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that you take the following 6 steps for earthquake preparation well before an earthquake strikes.
  1. Check for hazards in the home
  2. Identify safe places indoors and outdoors
  3. Educate yourself and family members
  4. Have disaster supplies on hand
  5. Develop an emergency communication plan
  6. Help your community get ready
Check for hazards in the home
The key is to take a good look around your house and think about what would happen if an earthquake strikes.  Are there tall bookcases or shelves?  You can increase your chance of earthquake survival by simply fastening the shelves to the wall and storing heavy items on the bottom of the shelf and lighter items towards the top.  Dishes and other glass items should be stored in cabinets with doors that would not pop open in an earthquake.  Remember to check for loose electrical wires and gas lines.  One of the most common secondary disaster in an earthquake is fire caused by broken gas lines and loose electrical wires.

Identify safe places indoors and outdoors
Sturdy tables and desks are great places to take cover while the quake continues.  It is good to stay away from windows and other glass items that could break.  When you are outdoors, stay outdoors.  Keep away from buildings, telephone poles, highway overpass, and any other things that may come down at you.

Educate yourself and your family members
Learn about earthquakes.  Take time to teach your family when and how to shut the gas, electricity, and water off.  Much damage could be prevented by simply shutting off the gas.

Have disaster supplies on hand

Tools to help you shut off gas and water is an important item that must be included in your earthquake preparedness kit.

In an environment where gas may be leaking, it is important to have a safe source of light.  Lighting a match in an earthquake could cause more damage than the benefit intended to provide.  A simple light stick is an inexpensive, safe way to provide light in an earthquake.  Flashlights are also acceptable combined with extra batteries and bulbs.  It is even better to have self-charging flashlights to prevent battery power outage. 

Develop an emergency communication plan
It is highly likely for family members to become separated in an earthquake if it occurs during the day. FEMA recommends that you make a plan as a family to get reunited.  It is also a good idea to have an emergency contact out of state.  Ask a friend or a relative to be your contact for emergencies.

Help your community get ready
Surviving a disaster is a community effort.  Get in touch with local emergency services as well as representatives from your local gas companies and learn about what you should do in an emergency.

The important thing to remember when preparing for earthquakes is to prepare for secondary disasters.  Fire is a very common problem that occurs after an earthquake due to broken gas lines and loose electrical connections.  Stay tuned for more on earthquake preparedness.  Next time, we will discuss about what we should do during an earthquake.


  1. Thank you for sharing this important information. Emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye. A proper emergency action plan can help save families and pets. A plan should cover the different kinds of disasters likely to occur where you live

  2. Earthquakes, for most of us, are not a common natural phenomenon. However, it’s surprising to note that in the US, all 50 states are considered to be at moderate risk for some sort seismic activity. Even if you don’t live one of the notorious seismic hotbeds of activity, it’s important to at least have some knowledge of how to prepare for these types of disasters, and the kind of damage they can cause.