Though we often think of earthquakes happening mostly in places like California, they’re more common and far-reaching than you might think. While the major earthquakes —the kind that destroy homes and buildings —are less common, you may be surprised to learn they’re still possible from coast to coast.
You and your family can be ready for an earthquake by developing a readiness plan and ensuring your house is safe if the ground around you rumbles. Here are a few ideas.
Securing bookshelves, flat-screen televisions or other tall pieces of furniture to the walls can ensure these items don’t fall on you during an earthquake. These steps can also make your home safer if you have toddlers who are interested in climbing and reaching.
Most pieces of furniture should come with some forms of wall anchor. If you aren’t sure what do, a professional handyman can help.
Identify Your Earthquake Safe Spots
The safest place to be in an earthquake is outside in an open area where there are no trees, light poles, power lines or other items that may fall. However, earthquakes strike fast and it may not be possible to get outside or find such a clear area.
Find safe spots in your home where you’re unlikely to be hit by falling objects. Door frames without doors or archways are the safe spots because they’re reinforced and out of the way of furniture that may topple over. Otherwise, try to duck under a sturdy table or desk.
If you’re in bed when an earthquake hits, stay in bed and cover your head with a pillow. You should also stay away from windows during an earthquake.
Stock Up on Earthquake Supplies
If a major earthquake happens, you may not have access to safe water or electricity for days after. In a safe area of your home, you should keep disaster supplies. Here are some suggestions:
- 3 gallons of water per person in your family
- First aid kit
- Flashlights and batteries
- Masks and goggles to protect against dust
- Non-perishable food items like canned or dried goods
Go Over Your Earthquake Readiness Plan and Practice
Practice your earthquake readiness plan with your family. Announce that rumbles are starting and practice going to the nearest safe spot. Ensure everyone gets to an appropriate spot and that they have access to the supplies they need. Then, announce rumbles are gone and make sure everyone knows exactly how to check that it’s safe to go outside. Each family member (even your children) should know how to check for fallen power lines, rubble or broken gas lines. It isn’t always safe to go outside or return inside until authorities have declared the area safe. They should also know how to turn off the gas and water lines inside your house, which may rupture during a quake.
You should practice your plan at least once per year as well as update your supplies. These dry runs will help you identify any holes in your emergency plans quickly, so you can make the needed adjustments to ensure your family is safe when the real thing happens.
Know Where to Find Your Nearest Emergency Room
Emergency departments and ambulances are going to be in high demand after a major earthquake. If you have a loved one who is injured but doesn’t need an ambulance —and it’s safe to drive —head to your nearest hospital for care.
Remember, always stay out of the way of emergency personnel and give right of way to ambulances and other emergency vehicles.
At AdventHealth, our emergency care teams are ready to help you. Find the AdventHealth emergency room closest to your home.