Yesterday, there was a magnitude 7.1 earthquake near Mexico City. Earlier today, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. And another magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit New Zealand a few hours after that. There have been a number of earthquakes lately, and if you live on a fault line, you might be nervous. But even though it’s still impossible to predict earthquakes, some earthquake preparedness can help keep you safe when the next one hits.
You can change your fear into something productive. Instead of worrying when one will hit and if you’ll be safe, make yourself safe. We’ve compiled a number of tips to keep you and your loved ones protected when an earthquake strikes.
1. Make an earthquake preparedness kit
When an earthquake hits, it’s possible that utilities will be knocked out of service, sometimes for days. That can mean no water or electricity. That’s why you should always have an earthquake preparedness kit full of supplies.
There are a number of things a good kit should have — and you should collect them in a go-bag if you need to leave immediately. Make sure you have:
— Water: Fill plastic containers with water. (Glass bottles can break; milk cartons can decompose.) Store one gallon of water per person per day (more if you have pets) — and keep at least enough for three days minimum. Change the water every six months.
— Food (and a can opener): Canned food is best — meat, vegetables, juice or soup. It also helps to have sugar, salt and pepper to help improve the taste. Also pack high-energy foods like peanut butter or granola. Be sure to include your favorite snacks, like cookies or cereal, as it’s going to be stressful. But avoid foods that will either make you thirsty or require a lot of water to prepare. Also, include paper cups, plates and plastic utensils.
— A first aid kit: Bandages, safety pins, soap, gloves, sunscreen, gauze, pain relievers, scissors, tweezers, a needle, antiseptic, a thermometer and petroleum jelly are all recommended.
— Cash, traveller’s checks and important documents: There’s a chance your credit cards won’t work, so cash is important.
— A battery-operated radio
— A flashlight and lots of batteries
— Tools like pliers, a wrench and a knife
— Blankets or sleeping bags
— Warm Clothing
Also, make sure you also keep important documents, like your will, insurance policy, deeds, passports, bank numbers and a list of important phone numbers and family records.
2. Prepare your home
Whether you live in a house, condo or apartment, there are a number of things you can do to make sure your home is safe.
— Strap bookshelves and appliances down, either to the wall or to what they’re resting on.
— Install safety latches on kitchen cabinets so the contents don’t fall out and hurt you.
— Make sure there’s nothing that can fall on your bed during an earthquake, like bookcases, vases or heavy picture frames. You can also affix frames and the like to the wall or tables with earthquake putty.
— Know how to turn off your gas
— Get at least one fire extinguisher and know where they are
— If you own your home, hire a specialist to see if anything needs to be done to make your house safe in the event of an earthquake.
3. Drop, cover and hold
Just like in the earthquake drills from elementary school, when an earthquake hits, you should drop, cover and hold.
— Drop to your hands and knees
— Cover yourself with a sturdy table or desk
— Hold on to the table
If you can’t get under a desk, get as low to the ground as possible, away from windows or items that could fall on you. Be sure to cover your head and neck with your arms! If you’re in bed, stay there — but protect your head with a pillow or something more durable.
Do not run outside — standing outside of a building is one of the most dangerous places. After all, objects will likely be falling off buildings, and you don’t want to be struck by a dislodged brick.
If you’re already outside, try to move to a clear area. Avoid powerlines, trees, signs and vehicles. And if you live near the shore, try to move inland to higher ground in case of tsunami.
If you’re at a show, either stay seated or drop to the ground between the rows, protecting your head, neck and arms.
In a disaster, you may have to improvise. But try to keep low, and keep your head and neck covered.
Earthquakes are serious business. But try to keep your head, and prepare yourself, and you should be OK.
Photo by Claudiad via iStock