Once the shaking stops and there’s a clear and safe path out, grab your earthquake kit, leave the building and go to an open space. Try not to touch any walls or chimneys as they can crumble and fall. Remember that aftershocks may hit at anytime so the quicker you can get to open ground and away from danger, the better. Treat any injuries you, your family members, or neighbors may have and call for medical assistance.
If you are trapped under debris, stay calm. DON’T light a match or lighter as leaking gas can cause a fire. Try not to move too much as dust will go in the air and you’ll breathe it in. Instead, cover your mouth with your clothes, handkerchief, or towel. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can find and rescue you. You want to get people’s attention but don’t shout if you can as shouting causes you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Dealing with problems promptly can prevent further damage and injuries.
- Check for gas leaks but if you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, open a window and leave IMMEDIATELY! This is very dangerous as you can die from the toxic fumes and the house can explode. Turn off the main gas valve outside and call the gas company.
- Check for electrical damage. If you see sparks or frayed wires, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker as the sparks can cause a fire.
- If you see broken pipes and leaks, turn of the main water supply as it could cause flooding and water damage.
Take any pictures/videos of damage to your property and home and contact your insurance agent to start your claims process. Keep everything in place when you are documenting the damage and don’t move anything unless you have to. You’ll most likely need help in the recovering process so getting the claim started as soon as possible will help get you the funds to start recovering.
Listen to News
Listen to news by radio, TV, and social media for emergency information and instructions. They will inform you of the status of the city and guide you on what you should do next.
Learn from your Experience
Was your earthquake kit and emergency supplies adequate or is there room for improvement? Did a lot of unsecured items fall or get damaged? Maybe it’s time to secure them properly. Did your house receive damage? Maybe you can upgrade some structural weaknesses. Was your evacuation plan adequate or can you make it better and safer?
The key here is improvement. Chances are EVERYTHING wasn’t perfect so now’s the chance to to take advantage of your experience and improve things in preparation for the next earthquake. You can even share your experiences with others and help educate them about the hazards of earthquakes and the importance of preparation.