By taking action to be prepared, you can lessen the impact of an earthquake on your family. Set aside some emergency supplies and make a plan for what to do at home before, during and after a disaster. You could be without help for at least 72 hours, or as long as two weeks. Self-sufficiency during this time is key.
Movement of the ground is seldom the actual cause of death or injury. Most casualties result from partial building collapse and falling objects and debris, such as toppling chimneys, falling bricks, ceiling plaster, and light fixtures. Many of these conditions are easily preventable.
Because earthquakes occur without warning, it’s important to take steps now to prepare, especially if you live in Very High and High earthquake risk areas.
Knowing what you can do and how to respond with constructive and protective actions, can make yourself, your family, and your home safer. Consult your local Building Department if you are unsure of the earthquake hazard in your area.
- Food. It’s always a practical idea to keep a supply of non-perishable food on hand that can be rotated into your diet and replenished on a regular basis. Have a sufficient supply of canned or dehydrated food, powdered milk, and canned juices for at least 72 hours, preferably two weeks. Dried cereals and fruits and non-salted nuts are good sources of nutrition.
- Flashlights and spare batteries. Keep a flashlight beside your bed, at your place of work, and in your car. Do not use matches or candles after an earthquake until you are certain that no gas leaks exist. Use a windup powered generator to have unlimited emergency power.
- Water. Store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day and be prepared for at least a 72-hour period. A normally active person needs at least a ½ gallon of water daily just for drinking.
- Portable, battery-powered radio or television and spare batteries. Most telephones will be out of order or used for emergency purposes, so portable radios or digital televisions will be your best source of information. You may also want to have a battery-powered citizens band (CB) radio, other two-way radio, or wind-up powered radio.
- First aid kit and manual. Keep a first aid kit and emergency reference material such as a first aid book or free information available via FEMA Ready (http://www.ready.gov/ publications) at home and in your car. Have members of your household take basic first aid and CPR courses.
- Fire extinguishers. Keep a fire extinguisher at home and in your car. Some extinguishers are good only for certain types of fires – electrical, grease, or gas. Class ABC extinguishers are designed for safe use on any type of fire. Your fire department can show you how to properly use an extinguisher.
- Special needs. Keep a supply of special needs items, such as medications, extra eyeglasses, contact lens solutions, hearing aid batteries, items for infants (formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers), sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper), and any other items unique to your family’s needs.
- Prepare customized emergency plans for people with disabilities in advance. Whether small or widespread, emergencies can pose special challenges for individuals with disabilities. Make more than one exit from your home wheelchair-accessible in case the primary exit is blocked in a disaster.
- Tools. In addition to a pipe wrench and crescent/adjustable wrench (for turning off gas and water valves), you should have a lighter, a supply of matches in a waterproof container, and a whistle for signaling rescue workers.