An earthquake is a natural phenomenon, and it pertains to the sudden shaking of the earth
. This is due to the shifting of the rock underneath the surface.
This release of energy can create seismic waves that can range in size. Some areas can experience weak tremors that cannot be felt. At the same time, there are violent seismic activities that can destroy even big cities.
Any part of the world can experience an earthquake, and it strikes without prior notice. Although it comes without warning, there are several measures to do to minimize its effect. This is especially true for those who live in high-earthquake risk areas.
Thus, this article aims to introduce what earthquake preparedness is. This will tackle the things to get ready either at the individual or household level.
Indeed, it is better to get ready whenever disaster strikes. Such is the case of Earthquake Preparedness, which pertains to a set of measures
taken to minimize the terrible effects.
The movement of the ground is seldom the cause of injuries and death of the people. Most of the time, it is due to the collapsing building, falling debris, and others. These examples can be prevented easily by following a few steps.
Earthquake preparedness is taken at various levels, such as individual, household, organizational, or societal. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
describes this as a pyramid. According to the agency, the citizens are at the bottom of the pyramid. Meanwhile, the government is situated at the top portion.
Indeed, the administration has to oversee the safety of its citizens. This can be achieved through information dissemination and providing adequate resources for them.
However, each individual has their role in achieving a safe environment whenever calamities strike.
Now, check out the checklist below to equip the family before the earthquake attacks:
On-Hand Emergency Ideas
Sometimes we might not know where and when an earthquake will occur. Thus, it is best to have on-hand emergency supplies
at home, office, or car. This can be easily bought at local shops around the world.
Here are some of the examples:
Keep a supply of non-perishable food
, which is according to the family’s diet. Consider the food of the babies and those with special dietary restrictions. Make sure that it can be replenished regularly. Discard food that is already expired because this might cause further health problems.
Opt for goods that last at least 72 hours, such as canned or dehydrated foods. Read the product labels to be guided accordingly. To have suitable sources of nutrients, have some dried fruits or cereals on the package too.
In buying groceries, avoid foods that will make one thirsty. For example, opt for salt-free crackers, canned goods with high liquid content, and whole-grain cereals.
Go with products that do not require extensive preparation. In times of disasters, one does not have the luxury to cook food that needs long hours of cooking. However, prepare the essential kitchen utensils to aid in times of need. Examples of which are a knife and can opener.
Apart from the solids, store enough liquid for the family and store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. An active person will require to drink at least ½ gallon of drinking water daily.
The need for water differs for every person depending on physical condition, diet, activity, climate, and health. Thus, children, pregnant, and ill members of the family need more water. A hot and crowded environment may make one thirst and drink lots of water too.
Men can’t go for a few days without food, but they can survive longer with even water alone.
Opt for bottled water during emergencies. Keep the water in its original container, and do not open the seal until needed. Be aware of its expiration date and replenish it once the supply is depleted.
Meanwhile, if one chooses to prepare his water supply, choose air-tight and food-grade water storage containers. Clean it using water and soap. After that, be sure to store the water supplies in a cool dark place. Replace the water containers every six months.
If in case that bottled water becomes unavailable, worry not because there are other ways to purify water and make it safe for drinking.
The first method is boiling. Boiling is the safest method that is known to all humanity. Heat the water at a boiling point for up to one minute. Then, filter the water through a coffee filter or clean cloth.
Another method is bleaching. Make sure not to use a color-safe, scented, or bleacher with added cleansers because the chemicals might be harmful to the body. Put the bleach on the water, let it settle, and filter using a clean cloth or coffee filter.
Although this is a suitable method of purifying water, some people do not like it since it produces a smell of chlorine, which they find rather frustrating.
Lastly, one can disinfect the water with the use of disinfection tablets. It contains chemicals like iodine, chlorine, and other disinfectant agents. Just follow the instruction of the pills before putting them in the water.
Flashlights and Extra Batteries
It is an excellent practice to keep a flashlight beside the bed. Have one too at the workplace and in the car.
There can be power outages during calamities. Thus, a light source is essential. Also, this can signal some help on the rescuers, so make sure to have one permanently.
Though a source of light is essential during disasters, experts do not advise the use of candles and matches after an earthquake because there might be gas leaks near the area.
For an unlimited power supply, invest in a powered generator inside the house. This can store electricity for long hours and days. With this, electric gadgets can be charged, and one can communicate with loved ones and authorities when needed.
Portable Radio, TV, and Some Batteries
After an earthquake, the signal may be jammed. Thus, telephones, cell phones, or other gadgets may lose their connection. Having updates regarding the scenario in the area can be challenging. Even texting on loved ones outside the home can be problematic, especially if the internet is not working.
In this regard, we have a portable radio, TV, and some batteries. With this, survivors can update the news regarding the incident and evacuate if it’s safe to do so.
First Aid Kit plus the Manual
Maintain a first aid kit to tend to wounds or other illnesses. It shall contain some antibiotics, cotton, wound solution, and others. The equipment must also include a manual to be guided on how to respond accordingly.
Orient each family member, to know what to do, even if they are outside the home when an earthquake happens.
Have some fire extinguishers inside the home and even in the car. Note that fire extinguishers come for certain types of fires like gas, grease, or electrical fire. Meanwhile, Class ABC can be used for any kind of fire.
Ask the local fire department to determine which product is the best for the household.
According to FEMA, it is appropriate to have a supply of special needs items. These are extra eyeglasses, medications, hearing aid batteries, sanitation items, and contact lens solutions.
If there are babies, then ready in advance the formula milk, pacifiers, bottles, and diapers.
For millennials, get ready some extra batteries, chargers, or portable internet for the gadgets. With this, one can be connected to the outside world, even if the connection becomes an issue. Also, this can help the household update with news and communicate with authorities.
Prepare some essential tools inside the home or in the car. This includes a pipe wrench, adjustable/ crescent wrench, saw, and hammer. Prepare a whistle, matches, scissors, or lighter, and place it in a waterproof container.
Cash and Important Papers
The ATMs and banks might be closed after an earthquake. Thus, they have some cash or coins in the wallet. If one needs to be evacuated, there can be little spending like on food, gas, and others along the way.
Also, ensure that the copies of credit and other essential documents like insurance policies and financial records are safe and easy to reach when needed.
After natural calamities, clothes are essential to keep one warm, especially when living in a cold climate. Also, make sure that the beddings are clean and available when necessary.
Some of the things to have in advance are the jacket, shirt, hat, gloves, pants, undergarments, shoes, socks, blankets, and sleeping bags.
For those who have pets, make sure to identify a safe place for them. Gather the necessary supplies and see to it that it has an ID. Prepare the food, water, vitamins, or clothes.
Furthermore, they should have a carrier or a leash to have them close when an aftershock strikes. Put them inside the cage when necessary. This is true for cats, hamsters, birds, and dogs.
When the pet is lost, it might take time and effort to find it. Thus, keep them as close as possible.
When the earthquake happens, shut off the utility services of the home. Train each family member on how to turn off the electricity, gas, and water outlets. For more information, consult the local utilities near the area.
Turn off all the water sources on the premises by locating the water meter box. Inside the meter box, one can find a valve that looks like the gas meter valve. Turn it in the same direction as one does in the gas meter.
Meanwhile, do turn off the gas if the emergency exits. If it needed to be restored, have a professional do it instead.
Familiarize the Earthquake Drill
Apart from preparing the kit and the home before an earthquake strikes, familiarize oneself with the earthquake drill too. With this, the family will be conditioned on how to react correctly and spontaneously whenever shaking happens.
Here are some examples of how to do it:
Every family member must know how to drop, cover, and hold on when there is an earthquake. Protecting in a safe spot is what’s recommended. Examples of which are a sturdy table or against inside walls.
Be aware of the danger spots near breaking window glass, falling mirrors, falling chimneys, and other unsecured types of furniture.
It is not advisable to move immediately when covering since there is a high risk of encountering some injury. Assess the environment first, then proceed when it is safe to do so.
Make sure not to use the elevators and take the stairs instead. When one is in bed during the earthquake, protect the head with a pillow.
If the earthquake happens and one is outdoors, place oneself in safe locations. This is true, especially for children. If one lives in a coastal area, be aware of a possible tsunami. There are communities with local tsunami hazard maps, so be familiar with that information.
Move away from tall buildings, streetlights, electrical posts, and big trees.
Stop as quickly as safety permits—pullover and stay inside the vehicle if one is driving his car. Don’t drive on the bridges or overpasses that are deteriorating.
If there is a severe medical emergency, send an emergency assistance request through the GPS tracking device or satellite messenger.
Finally, train the family members on what to expect after an earthquake: both physically and emotionally. When trapped under debris, do not panic and think of an escape. Use a whistle, flashlight, or any gadgets on the body. As a last resort, shout when necessary to get the attention of people nearby.
When the Earthquake Stops
When the earthquake stops, orient the family members to check if anyone has injuries. If someone has stopped breathing, give CPR, but be sure to follow the guidelines as set by the American Heart Association.
If there is any bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound. Do not move any person who is seriously injured. Cover them with blankets to keep them warm while medical assistance is on the way.
Report the emergency immediately to medical personnel. Send a message or call them if possible.
Put out small fires that one can see or smell. If it’s impossible to put out the fire, call the fire department for help. Inspect the home for other possible damages with the use of a flashlight.
Do not touch the broken appliances or downed lines because this might cause electrocution. Clean up the spilled gasoline and other flammable liquids to prevent injuries.
Avoid driving or going sightseeing on damaged properties. Do not interfere with the relief and rescue efforts of the authorities. Stay inside instead, and protect the members of the household.
Lastly, prepare for any aftershocks. The aftershocks can be less violent than the main ones. However, there are instances when aftershocks cause additional damage to the properties and the death of loved ones.
Plan to Reunite
Whenever the family members were outside the home when the earthquake happened, prepare a place to reunite. Take the food, water, and other necessaries. Bring cash, gadgets, and other essential documents.
Some of the reunion points are the home, neighbors, school, or community centers. If there are family members who are missing, keep calm and wait for them at the reunion points. If communication is impossible and the member is still missing, report the issue to the authorities to ask for assistance.
In a nutshell, an earthquake is inevitable. However, with preparation, we can mitigate its effects on the family and the community. Japan has lovely mitigating plans which the United States can adapt accordingly. As a country in the Pacific Ring of Fire, its goals are not to stop earthquakes but to go with its flow.
The tips mentioned above are some of the most common things experts recommend. There are more actions to take, but it all depends on the strategies of the family.
Always remember to put your mind above all else. After all, the life of our family members is essential. So, be sure to take all possible means to prevent the injury or death of a loved one. Surviving an earthquake is easy if we could learn to react accordingly.