After an Earthquake
Check for Injuries
After the shaking stops, don’t move. First assess your own physical condition and your immediate surroundings. Many injuries are sustained after the shaking stops, so be cautious. The most innocent of actions may have serious consequences. For instance, opening a medicine cabinet containing glass shelving that may have loosened in the quake. If not careful, they could tumble out unexpectedly and shatter across your face and arm. There’s nothing like surviving a 6-pointer only to get cut up reaching for a band-aid.
- If you are bleeding, apply pressure to the wound and elevate the injured part.
- If you are trapped by fallen objects, protect your mouth, nose and eyes from dust.
- If you can not get out, signal for help. Rescue personnel will be listening for three rapping sounds every few minutes. Or if you can, use your cell phone.
- If you can move, seek the safest way out and proceed to your predetermined meeting place.
- Locate your emergency kit — only if it can be reached safely. Wear gloves, sturdy shoes, and a dust mask while helping others.
- Unless in immediate danger of further injury, DO NOT move seriously injured persons.
- Place blanket around seriously injured to keep them warm and seek medical help.
Perform Safety Check
Again, many injuries happen after the earth settles down. Be careful and assess the situation. Check for these hazards:
- Fire — put out small fires immediately, then call for help.
- Gas Leaks — Turn it off only if you suspect or smell a gas leak. DO NOT turn it back on. Let the gas company do that.
- Electrical Wiring — If damaged, shut off the main at the power control box. Leave the power off until repaired.
- Power Lines — If you see a broken power line, DO NOT touch it or any object that is touching it. Mark off the area around it so others do not stumble across it. Then call your electric utility company.
- Items That are Apt to Fall — Be ready to move quickly out of the way when opening doors to cabinets and closets.
- Downed or Damaged Chimneys — Stay away from chimneys that may be weakened and liable to fall, especially if an aftershock occurs. If damaged in any way, DO NOT light a fire.
- Spills — Be cautious when cleaning up chemical spills, medicines or toxic substances such as bleach, lie and gasoline. The safest thing to do is cover the spill with kitty litter or dirt.
You can expect aftershocks after most mainshocks, so be ready — and hope that what you already went through was not just a foreshock of the yet to happen mainshock. Use common sense. DO NOT use lighters or matches because of possible gas leaks — Use flashlights. Keep telephone use to a minimum. Listen to your radio for emergency directions and information and keep streets clear for emergency personnel.