Natural disasters can be deadly if you and your family are caught by surprise. Take these steps to prepare for an earthquake and minimize damage to your property and ensure your family’s safety.
Prepare well in advance of an earthquake if you live in an area that is prone to them or along any major geologic fault zones. Unlike other natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes that can be predicted by meteorologists, earthquakes cannot be predicted. They occur without warning.
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Develop a family communication plan for during and after an earthquake. According to Earthquake Country Alliance
, this plan should include agreeing on an out-of-state contact person that every member of the family can call to relay information in case the family is temporarily separated.
Agree on a way to communicate to rescue workers if you find yourself trapped beneath debris. For example, equip your family members with emergency whistles they can use to alert first responders, suggests Earthquake Country Alliance.
Practice the Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill until everyone in the family is comfortable with it, advises the Centers for Disease Control
. This drill helps minimize injury during an earthquake. First, you drop to your knees so you won’t get knocked down by the quake, then you cover your head and shoulders either with your hands or by finding shelter under low furniture that won’t fall on you. Finally, you hang on to your surroundings until the shaking stops.
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Secure your home to prevent damage and minimize injury, recommends Earthquake Country Alliance. For example, move heavy items closer to the ground instead of high on bookshelves. Secure heavy bookcases and top-heavy furniture to wall studs. Hang mirrors and artwork using closed hooks and install latches on kitchen cabinets to keep contents from flying out. Ask your plumber to install flexible connectors where gas lines are connected to appliances.
Create an emergency kit to prepare for the earthquake and have a kit available at home, in the car, and at your workplace. The CDC recommends stocking your kit with first aid supplies and enough food and water to last for three days.
Remember there is no advance warning when an earthquake hits, so it's important to prepare ahead of time.
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