Preparing for Earthquakes

I grew up in an area where the only natural disaster I really worried about was earthquakes. In addition to the fire drills we had each year in school, we also had earthquake drills. I remember waking up as a child to a small earthquake. I think it was around a 3.0, but I was scared because I was on the bottom bunk of the bed and so I rolled off of it and onto the floor. After the quake was over, my dad came and checked on us. It really wasn’t a big deal. However earthquakes can quickly become a big deal. If you have heard about the recent earthquakes in Indonesia and the devastation that was caused there, you can see that earthquakes can be quite dangerous.

There are a few things you can do to prepare for an earthquake. The building codes in the United States, especially in high-risk earthquake zones, help to stop the tragedy we have seen in other countries, but you are still responsible for what is in your home. You should fasten heavy objects (bookshelves, entertainment centers, etc) to your walls. You can buy the hooks at your local hardware store. When you fasten them to the walls make sure you follow the instructions. You should also attach to the studs of the wall and not just to the drywall.

When you put objects on shelves, make sure they are not heavy or that they can hurt somebody when they fall off. This is especially important in bedrooms, because when you are awakened due to an earthquake, your reaction time may be slow. You will want to make sure that you don’t have objects that will fall directly on to the bed.

Teach your children what to do during an earthquake. Show them how to get under a table and to hold onto the legs during a quake. Another safe place is an inside doorframe. Teach your children not to go near glass or other unsafe areas during the quake. Teach your children what to do if they are ever trapped after an earthquake. This includes tapping on a metal object to let people know where they are. If you are in a structure, which has suffered considerable damage, you should try to move outside after the quake. As you go outside make sure that you are aware of downed power lines and other hazards. Broken gas mains are another serious hazard after a quake.

This is an emergency where it is essential to have your family’s emergency action plan in place. Most likely you will not be together as a family. If each child can remember what they are supposed to do in this situation, then you will have an easier time finding and picking up your children. As a family you may want to have earthquake drills as well. This will give your children practice protecting their heads, and finding a safe place to be during the earthquake