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Earthquakes...Drop, Cover & Hold On!

Earthquakes are not a common occurrence in our area, but we have become a lot more familiar with them recently.  The quake that occurred Tuesday, August 23 was a record for the state coming in at 5.9 on the Richter Scale. 

Since then, we have experienced aftershocks as is typical for earthquake activity that have ranged from 2.2 to 5.4 on the Richter Scale—plenty strong to get your attention.  Be aware that these can continue days and even weeks after the primary earthquake. 

No matter what your circumstances, be sure your response to an earthquake is appropriate: 

If you are indoors:

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.

 If you are outdoors:

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If you are in a stadium or amphitheater

  • Stay at your seat and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don't try to leave until the shaking is over. Then walk out slowly watching for anything that could fall in the aftershocks.

If you are in a moving vehicle:

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

Equally important is to know what NOT to do:

DO NOT run outside or to other rooms during shaking: The area near the exterior walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to collapse. To stay away from this danger zone, stay inside if you are inside and outside if you are outside. Also, shaking can be so strong that you will not be able to move far without falling down, and objects may fall or be thrown at you that you do not expect. Injuries can be avoided if you drop to the ground before the earthquake drops you.

DO NOT stand in a doorway: An enduring earthquake image of California is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. True- if you live in an old, unreinforced adobe house or some older woodframe houses. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house, and the doorway does not protect you from the most likely source of injury- falling or flying objects. You also may not be able to brace yourself in the door during strong shaking. You are safer under a table.

DO NOT get in the "triangle of life":  In recent years, an e-mail has been circulating which describes an alternative to the long-established "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" advice. The so-called "triangle of life" and some of the other actions recommended in the e-mail are potentially life threatening, and the credibility of the source of these recommendations has been broadly questioned.  The "triangle of life" advice (always get next to a table rather than underneath it e.g.) is based on wrong assumptions.

What to Do After an Earthquake:

  • Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Open cabinets cautiously; beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations.
  • If you live in coastal areas, be aware of possible tsunamis. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called "tidal waves"). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
  • Help injured or trapped persons.  Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.  Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.  Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
  • Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage.  Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
  • Inspect utilities.
    • Check gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
    • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
    • Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

 

This information is provided by www.ready.gov

 

For more information, visit www.dropcoverholdon.org