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April is Earthquake Preparedness Month

Updated April 28, 2015

Last month's moderate 4.5 magnitude earthquake outside of Tokyo, Japan, caused minimal damage to property or injuries to people, and received relatively little media attention. It seems that oftentimes earthquakes are not taken seriously unless they cause mass destruction or result in compelling visuals that can be broadcast on the news. Preparedness efforts are frequently forgotten once the shaking stops and the media move on. The unfortunate reality is that many people are unlikely to take the appropriate steps to prepare for the "Big One" until after it occurs. For many, that will be too late.

There are numerous websites and other places to obtain earthquake and emergency preparedness tips and information. However, when an earthquake hits and the shaking starts, few people are thinking about their earthquake kits, stored water and supplies or their family emergency response plan. With that in mind, this month's newsletter offers tips on what to do when you feel the ground start to shake. These tips are easy to practice and should be memorized, especially if you live in an earthquake-prone area such as Southern California.

  • Public places: Drop, cover and hold on. If you are sitting in a restaurant or office building, get under a sturdy table or counter. Lights, signs and other hanging objects often fall and can cause injury. It is important to get away from large windows, cabinets and tall furniture. Breaking plate glass windows can be deadly. DO NOT RUN OUTSIDE! Fa├žades and window glass falling from tall buildings are the first things to go flying in a major earthquake.
  • Indoors: Drop, cover and hold on, similar to as if you were in a public place. Take cover under a sturdy table and protect your head and neck with your arms. If you are not near a table, drop to the floor against an interior wall. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, heavy objects and glass. Be especially aware of old television sets that may fall, as they are heavy. Again, do not run outside.
  • If you are in bed: Hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow unless there is an armoire close by, something hanging above your bed or nearby shelves with heavy objects. If you have lots of shelves and items that can go flying, move into the hallway and drop down against an interior wall.
  • Outdoors: Move to a clear area if you can safely do so. Avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings (remember, things fall off), vehicles and other hazards.
  • Driving: Pull over to the side of the road, stop and set your parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signal poles, signs and trees. Stay inside your vehicle until the shaking is over. If a power line falls on your car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
  • In a stadium or theater: Stay in your seat and protect your head and neck with your arms. Do not leave until the shaking is over. Walk out slowly, watching for anything that could fall in an aftershock.

Following are some website resources with more information about earthquake safety: espfocus.org, ready.gov, fire.lacounty.gov, redcross.org and earthquakecountry.org.

 

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