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There are several ways to prepare for an earthquake, but here are a few suggestions:
- Scout out locations of powerlines, so you can avoid them during the earthquake.
- Remove tree branches that are near powerlines, in case they catch fire during the event.
- Get rid of tall trees that might fall on your house.
- Get chimney braces, so it wonít collapse during a tremor.
- Brace ceiling supports with plywood.
- Bolt floor joists to the foundation of your house.
- Reinforce joints and bolt stories together.
- Sheath your garage, remodeled areas, and around windows.
- Anchor decks and porches to the house.
- Ask a structural engineer to check the strength of your houseís plywood siding.
- Try to maintain and adhere to current building codes.
- If you donít know how to do the bracing and bolting necessary to strengthen your house, contact a seismic retrofitter or licensed building contractor.
- Check circuit breakers and fuse boxes, replacing bad connections and storing spare fuses.
- Know how to turn off the water main.
- Check your gas meters.
- Have tool kits in an available place.
- Buy insurance for your possessions.
- Have back-up documents and files stored in a safe place.
- Know how to perform CPR.
- Attach your water heater firmly to the wall.
- Secure plumbing and gas lines with straps, attaching them to walls, ceilings, or stable surfaces.
- Install flexible hoses on gas appliances.
- Secure unstable objects inside the house.
- Stock up on food, water, and supplies.
- Get your neighborhood involved and informed.
- What should you do if you are caught in an earthquake?
- Stay calm!
- Look for a sturdy desk, table, or doorframe to duck under.
- Roll under a bed.
- Keep away from windows, brick chimneys, or anything that might fall over.
- Keep clear of glass that could shatter and injure you.
- Do not try to help pets or other people until the earthquake stops.
- If you are outdoors, stay outdoors.
- If outdoors, move toward an open area, away from trees, buildings, chimneys, walls and power lines.
- If you are driving over a bridge, drive off and pull over.
- If a power line falls across your car, stay inside and roll up the windows.
- Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking stops. Also be prepared for aftershocks. When the major earthquake is over, head to open ground quickly.
- If you are in a downtown building, stay where you are. Stay under a doorway if possible (it is the strongest support in a building).
- If you are on the coast or next to a water body, head for high ground as quickly as possible.
- Do not go toward the ocean and keep alert for tsunami warnings.
- If you are in a wheelchair, stay there, moving next to an interior wall away from windows and unsecured items. Put the brake in place and cover your head.
- If you are in a crowded area, duck, cover, and hold on to a secured object.
- If you are in a building, do not try to use the elevators to exit.
- After the earthquake stops, check yourself and other people for injuries.
- Help with first aid if it is needed, or phone for medical assistance.
- Put on heavy shoes and clothes.
- Check for fires, and inspect for gas and water leaks.
- Try to turn off main valves (If you donít know how, look in the front of your phone book. Instructions are sometimes printed there).
- Do not light matches.
- If you smell gas, open windows and telephone the gas company. Leave the building if you can. Donít try to turn the gas back on by yourself.
- Turn off the water main.
- Check for loose wires or short circuits, but donít touch them.
- Turn off appliances.
- Turn the electricity off at the circuit breaker box.
- Turn on a radio or TV for emergency information or updates.
- Check food and water supplies.
- Check the furnace.
- Clean up spills, inflammable liquids, and broken glass. Clear away fallen bricks or small pieces of debris. Donít try to move heavy pieces by yourself.
- Donít consume anything from open containers near broken glass.
- If it is possible, fill large bottles and the bathtub with water, in case you are later cut off from a water supply.
- Donít flush the toilet if the water is shut off.
- Wrap up fragile or easily-broken items.
- Be careful when opening cabinets - items may have shifted around in the shock.
- Use duct tape to secure cracked glass and windows.
- Use plywood to board up broken windows.
- Do not go inside a house that looks unstable or if the ground is shifting.
- Try to leave the building in case there is a landslide, tsunami, or flooding.
- Check the building for cracks and damage.
- Tie a red, white, or yellow ribbon to your front door to signal rescue workers.
- Stay off the streets to allow emergency officials to work and get through.
- Also use the phone for emergencies only, to keep the lines open.
- Go to your familyís prearranged meeting point if you have one.
- Be prepared for aftershocks.
In earthquake-prone areas, it is best to always be prepared. Scientists say that it isnít a question of if an earthquake occurs, but rather when. You can start preparing for the earthquake before it hits. Keep a supply of fresh batteries for a battery-operated radio in case the electricity is cut off. Also make sure you have a supply of canned or dried food and lots of water, enough to last several days. Also have flashlights with spare batteries, water purification tablets, a fire extinguisher, and first-aid supplies in an easily accessible place.
Fasten water heaters, cabinets, bookcases, shelves, and plants to the wall to resist shaking. Latch cabinets and cupboards so that their doors stay closed and will not rattle open. Put heavy and breakable items in closets and cupboards on lower shelves. Also instruct family members and friends on the safest places to stand or crouch if an earthquake hits. It is also good for each person to know how to shut off switches that control gas, electricity, and water.
Knowing this information could someday save your life or that of a loved one.
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