Earthquakes are the violent shaking of the Earth’s surface caused by shifting rocks deep underground. They can happen anywhere at any time, but most occur along the fault lines of the Earth’s plate tectonics. While some earthquakes start softly, many occur without warning, leaving little time to seek shelter. This is why preparation in the face of an earthquake is of the utmost importance.
Develop an Emergency Plan
The first step regarding earthquake preparedness is to develop an emergency plan. The plan should involve exiting the home as quickly as possible because collapsing buildings pose the greatest danger during an earthquake. Draw out the plan and make sure everyone in your home understands it. It’s also important to identify an outside meeting place.
Additionally, your plan should account for contacting members of your family who weren’t home during the earthquake. Keep a hard-copy of everyone’s contact information so you can always have it as a reference.
Build an Earthquake Kit
Perhaps the most important aspect of earthquake preparedness is building and maintaining an earthquake kit full of items needed in a disaster scenario. You should include enough food and water to last about three days, and store the kit in a location that’s cool, dry, and easy to reach.
Your kit should include basic items like:
- Canned, non-perishable food
- One gallon of water per person per day
- First-aid supplies
- Basic tools like a screwdriver and wrench
- Face Masks
Many earthquake kits are available online and come with just about everything you need to keep yourself safe in a disaster.
Know What Areas to Avoid
While exiting your home is one of the surest ways to avoid injuries during an earthquake, you might not have the opportunity. Should an earthquake suddenly occur while you’re in your home, you’ll need to avoid heavy objects like bookcases and appliances that could topple over. You should also steer clear of walls and doorways, as those pose a similar danger. Earthquakes also shatter windows and send broken glass flying in all directions, so windows are to be avoided as well.
Instead, you should seek shelter under a sturdy table or desk, as those are less likely to fall over and provide cover for your head and neck. Staying low to the floor will help you stay safe.
Drop, Cover, and Hold
Everyone knows the basic fire drill of stop, drop, and roll, but not many aren’t aware of the earthquake safety variant called drop, cover, and hold.
First, you drop to your hands and knees. Crawling keeps you from falling while the earth shifts around you while allowing you to stay mobile.
Then, you cover your head and neck. As you know, seeking shelter under a table is ideal, but covering your head with a pillow or your hands will also help keep you safe from falling debris.
Lastly, hold on to your head or your shelter. As the earth moves, you’ll need to stay grounded to not be flung about.
The drop, cover, and hold method can be life-saving in a pinch. It keeps you safe from injuries caused by falls and offers you a way to protect your most vital body parts.
Earthquakes are a natural disaster that often occurs suddenly, leaving very little time to gather supplies and flee to safety. However, having an easy-to-follow evacuation plan, building an emergency supply kit, and remembering to drop, cover, and hold keeps you out of harm’s way until the earthquake passes or help arrives. Being prepared in the face of an earthquake makes all the difference in the world.