Saturday, October 17, 2015

Earthquake Safety Tips: Create a disaster-preparedness plan

Will everyone in your household do the right thing during the violent shaking of a major earthquake? Before the next earthquake, get together with your family or housemates to plan now what each person will do before, during and after. Once the earthquake is over, we will have to live with the risk of fire, the potential lack of utilities and basic services, and the certainty of aftershocks. By planning now, you will be ready. This plan will also be useful for other emergencies.

Plan NOW to be safe during an earthquake:
  • Practice "drop, cover, and hold on."
  • Identify safe spots in every room, such as under sturdy desks and tables.
  • Learn how to protect yourself no matter where you are when an earthquake strikes.
Plan NOW to respond after an earthquake:
  • Keep shoes and a working flashlight next to each bed.
  • Get a fire extinguisher for your home. Your local fire department can train you and your family to use it properly.
  • Teach everyone in your household to use emergency whistles and/or to knock three times repeatedly if trapped. Rescuers are trained to listen for such sounds.
  • Identify the needs of household members and neighbors with special requirements or situations, such as use of a wheelchair, walking aids, special diets, or medication.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training course. Learn who else in your neighborhood is trained.
  • Know the location of utility shutoffs and keep needed tools nearby. Know how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity to your home. Only turn off the gas if you smell or hear leaking gas.
  • Install smoke alarms and test them monthly. Change the battery once a year, or when the alarm emits a "chirping" sound (low-battery signal).
  • Work with your neighbors to identify who has skills and resources that will be useful in an emergency, and who may need special attention (children, elderly, disabled, etc.)
  • Check with your city or county to see if there is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in your area. If not, ask how to start one.
Plan NOW to communicate and recover after an earthquake:
  • Select a safe place outside of your home to meet your family or housemates after the shaking.
  • Designate an out-of-area contact person who can be called by everyone in the household to relay information. Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio with the Public Alert feature to notify you of tsunamis and other hazards.
  • Provide all family members with a list of important contact phone numbers.
  • Determine where you might live if your home cannot be occupied after a disaster.
  • Know about the earthquake plan developed by your children's school or day care. Keep school emergency release card(s) current.
  • Keep copies of essential documents, such as identification, insurance policies, and financial records, in a secure, waterproof container, and keep with your disaster supplies kits. Include a household inventory (a list and photos or video of your belongings).
  • You may have to take additional steps, especially if someone has a disability or other access and functional needs. Register with your local fire department for assistance so needed help can be provided.
Be sure to share your plan with people who take care of your children, pets, or home.

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