Earthquake Safety Tips from Citizen-Soldier Magazine

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The tips below can serve as a guide to help avoid these preventable outcomes, as Citizen-Soldier continues its series of safety with earthquake safety.

Every year, millions of people are affected by natural disasters and accidents. While Army National Guard soldiers are most often at the forefront of first responders working to save and protect individuals, National Guard members and families are equally susceptible to these same disasters and accidents. Some of the unfortunate results of such events are inevitable, but some can be avoided.

An earthquake is the rapid shaking of the earth, which is caused by the breaking up and displacement of underground rock. Earthquakes can happen anywhere without warning, and can cause other disasters like tsunamis, landslides and avalanches. Movement can damage and collapse buildings, damage roads and even cause fires. Most injuries and deaths in an earthquake are actually caused by falling objects in and on buildings. Before you experience an earthquake, discuss safety with your family and protect them by preparing your home.

Start thinking about earthquakes now and talk to your family about what to do during an earthquake. Talking in advance can help reduce stress in an emergency. You should develop a plan that details a safe place in every room of your home, and even at your workplace or school. Safe places should be covered, such as under furniture, and should be away from windows, bookcases, or any tall furniture that could fall and injure you. Emergency experts recommend “Drop, Cover and Hold” as the steps to take during an earthquake, so practice them with your family.

  • Let yourself fall where you are, on your hands and knees. Staying low protects you from rollovers, but you can also crawl if necessary.
  • Cover your head and neck with one arm and one hand. Crawl for shelter, either under sturdy furniture or against an interior wall.
  • Hang on until the shaking stops – either hold the piece of furniture you are using for shelter, so you can move with it if it moves; or hold your head and neck with both arms and hands if you do not have an air shelter.

You can prepare your home now by securing heavy items that hang from the walls, anchoring heavy freestanding furniture to wall studs, and moving heavy, breakable items to low shelves. Heavy wall hangings, like paintings and mirrors, should be kept away from beds, sofas, and anywhere people sleep or sit. Go through every room in your house and imagine what could hurt someone if they fell; for things that could be dangerous, make sure they cannot fall when moving or anchoring them.

If an earthquake does occur, try to remember to “Drop it, cover and hold on”. You should move as little as possible, as many injuries in earthquakes occur when people move and then fall. Keep your head and torso protected as much as possible. Try to stay indoors, but if you smell gas, exit the building safely and walk away. If you’re outside when an earthquake hits, find a spot away from buildings, power lines, trees, and street lights, and drop to the ground.

Earthquakes can cause other disasters, so be prepared for aftershocks, landslides, tsunamis, and fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake, so stay alert and put out small fires. Aftershocks can occur a few minutes or several months after an earthquake; usually they are smaller in magnitude, but sometimes they can have greater strength. If you feel a retort, follow “Drop, Cover and Hold On” until the end. Listen to the news and the radio to be aware of any disasters that may strike your area. If you are away from home, only come back when authorities say it is safe.

Visit the sites below for more information on seismic safety.

Earthquakecountry.org/dropcoverholdon/

By Editor Aryn Kitchell


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