An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the Earth caused by the breaking and shifting rock beneath the Earth's surface.
For hundreds of millions of years, the forces of plate tectonics have shaped the Earth as the huge plates that form the Earth's surface move slowly over, under, and past
each other. Sometimes the movement is gradual. At other times, the plates are locked together, unable to release the accumulating energy. When the accumulated energy grows
strong enough, the plates break free causing the ground to shake. Most earthquakes occur at the boundaries where the plates meet; however, some earthquakes occur in the middle of the plates.
Ground shaking from earthquakes can collapse buildings and bridges; disrupt gas, electric, and phone service; and
sometimes trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and huge destructive ocean waves (tsunamis). Buildings with foundations resting on unconsolidated landfill and other
unstable soil, and trailers and homes not tied to their foundations are at risk because they can be shaken off their mountings during an earthquake. When an earthquake occurs
in a populated area, it may cause deaths and injuries and extensive property damage.
PREPARE A HOME EARTHQUAKE PLAN
- Choose a safe place in every room--under a sturdy table or desk or against an inside wall where nothing can fall on you.
- Practice DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON at least twice a year. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and
protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there's no table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases,
or tall furniture that could fall on you. Teach children to DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON!
- Choose an out-of-town family contact.
- Consult a professional to find out additional ways you can protect your home, such as bolting the house to its
foundation and other structural mitigation techniques.
- Take a first aid class from your local Red Cross chapter. Keep your training current.
- Get training in how to use a fire extinguisher from your local fire department.
- Inform babysitters and caregivers of your plan.
ELIMINATE HAZARDS, INCLUDING ...
- Bolting bookcases, china cabinets, and other tall furniture to wall studs.
- Installing strong latches on cupboards.
- Strapping the water heater to wall studs.
PREPARE A DISASTER SUPPLIES KIT FOR HOME & CAR, INCLUDING ...
- First aid kit and essential medications.
- Canned food and can opener.
- At least three gallons of water per person.
- Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.
- Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
- Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
- Written instructions for how to turn off gas, electricity, and water if
authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)
- Keeping essentials, such as a flashlight and sturdy shoes, by your bedside.
KNOW WHAT TO DO WHEN THE SHAKING BEGINS
- DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON! Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place.
Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you're sure it's safe to exit. Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
- If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.
- If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
- If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place (as described above). Stay in the car until the shaking stops.
IDENTIFY WHAT TO DO AFTER THE SHAKING STOPS
- Check yourself for injuries. Protect yourself from further danger by putting on
long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and work gloves.
- Check others for injuries. Give first aid for serious injuries.
- Look for and extinguish small fires. Eliminate fire hazards. Turn off the gas if
you smell gas or think it's leaking. (Remember, only a professional should turn it back on.)
- Listen to the radio for instructions.
- Expect aftershocks. Each time you feel one, DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON!
- Inspect your home for damage. Get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
- Use the telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies.