Due to the extremely high number of factors contributing to when an earthquake will occur, they are nearly impossible to predict. However, in order to remain safe, two important things are known: where earthquakes occur and how to protect oneself during an earthquake.
Below is a map depicting the risk of an earthquake occurring at any point on the globe. Since the risk of earthquakes occurring is directly related to the proximity to a fault line, locations closer to active fault lines and plate boundaries have a greater risk. The leftmost colors on the risk scale (white and green) represent the lowest risk areas while the rightmost colors (dark red) represents the highest risk.
A map displaying the risk of the occurence of an earthquake.
(Click for a slightly enlarged version)
If you live in an area of high risk, it is important to take certain precautions to protect oneself and one's property, including to:
- Fasten shelves securely to walls.
- Place the largest and heaviest items on the lowest shelves.
- Store fragile items and flammable objects in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Hang wall fixtures away from places that people sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Bolt and strap the water heater to the wall and ground.
- Repair any deep cracks in ceilings and the foundation of the house.
Be sure to have the following emergency supplies on hand in case of an earthquake:
- First aid kit
- Emergency food and bottled water
- Flash light and extra batteries
- Portable, battery-operated radio
- Medicines, such as aspirin
- Durable shoes
During an earthquake:
- If indoors:
- Take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a table or desk.
- Do NOT try to leave the building.
- Stay away from windows.
- If in a moving vehicle:
- Quickly stop the car and stay in the vehicle.
- Move to a clear area from buildings, trees, overpasses, or utility wires.
- Once the earthquake has ended, proceed with caution. Avoid bridges and ramps that may be damaged.
After the earthquake, be sure:
- That aftershocks have ended.
- To help injured or trapped persons.
- Beware of fires and put out small fires quickly. Fire is a very common hazard after earthquakes, often creating more damage than the earthquakes themselves.
- Leave the gas on at the mail valve unless you smell gas or think it might be leaking
- Clean up chemical spills as best as you can.
- Be careful of falling objects and open doors carefully
- Make sure the area you say in is stable and safe, and evacuate if there is a danger.
- Listen to battery radios or television for emergency informations and instructions.
- Inspect chimneys for damage because damage can be a fire hazard or cause the chimney to collapse.
- Be careful when entering buildings or areas and check areas for damages or hazards.
- Use telephones for only dire emergancies to allow emergancy calls to go through