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Earthquake Preparedness

Know Your Risk

Everyone is used to the idea of having an earthquake in California… but all 50 states and 5 U.S. territories are at some risk for earthquakes. Even if you don’t live near a fault line, less severe earthquakes can interrupt living patterns and are still able to cause injuries to you and your loved ones.

Earthquakes can happen at any time and occur without warning. Though most usually last less than one minute, aftershocks can follow the initial quake and may occur for hours, days or even months. 

Make a Plan

  • Stock up on supplies and create an emergency kit for a future earthquake. These supplies should be checked and updated annually.
  • Pick a spot to meet or evacuate to during a bad earthquake. Cellphones may be down so have a spot or an emergency contact who is not in the area to relay information for you. Texting someone outside the area after an earthquake is better than calling.
  • Write down important information – Telephone numbers for emergency services, police, electric, gas, water companies, and your landlord; your credit union’s telephone number, account types and numbers; important medical info such as allergies or regular medications; names and telephone numbers for your insurance agents, including policy numbers.
  • Put important documents (passports, birth certificates, medical records, social security cards, wills, insurance policies, ownership titles and photographs of your important house inventory and your loved ones) in a fire-proof safe.

Practice Drills

Learn the safe spots in your home and practice what to do with your family if you’re in an earthquake. Point out the heavier items in your home to avoid during a quake, such as large bookcases, cabinets and heating units that could fall on you. Making sure children understand procedures will make them automatic when an real quake occurs.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On! 

During an earthquake, you should move as little possible. To prepare, make sure you follow these three simple steps.

  • DROP to the ground
  • COVER your head and neck with your arms
  • HOLD ON to something stable. Only do this if you are near a stable object or if you can crawl to a safer space without exposing yourself to flying debris.

Staying Safe Indoors

  • If you smell gas, get out of the house and move as far away from the area as possible.
  • If you’re in bed, stay there, curl up, and hold on while covering your head.
  • If you need to exit the house, watch out for any unstable or falling debris.
  • Know that fire alarms or sprinkler systems can be set off during a quake, even if there is no fire.

Staying Safe Outdoors

  • Find a clear spot, away from roads, tress, or powerlines, and drop to the ground until the shaking stops.
  • If you’re in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges and overpasses after a quake.
  • Be alert for falling rocks or debris if you’re in a mountainous area. 

After The Dust Settles

After an earthquake, implement the emergency procedures you’ve created with your family. 

In Case You’re Stuck

  • If you are trapped, DO NOT MOVE. Shifting can make other debris fall and create a worse situation for you.
  • If you have a cellphone, try to text or call for help.
  • Use your voice, tap a pipe or a turn on a phone alarm if you have it handy, to let rescue teams help locate you.

Assess the Damage

  • Take photos of your damaged items to use for insurance purposes. These items should be detailed in your initial policy. 
  • Check for injuries and provide assistance if you have training. Only assist in rescues if you can do so safely.
  • Use extreme caution during post-disaster clean up. Work in teams and wear protective clothing and work gloves. Falling debris can injure you or others during the aftermath, especially if there are aftershocks to come.
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