Earthquakes are among the natural forces that terrify humans because it can happen anytime and the damages can be wide scale. There are about 70 to 75 damaging earthquakes a year worldwide. Most states of the U.S are susceptible to these plutonic and tectonic forces with California being the most prone due to the movements of the San Andreas Fault. The New Madrid Fault in Missouri had the strongest 3-month streak of earthquakes way back in 1811 to 1812 with some having magnitudes higher than 8. Aftershocks are the smaller shocks that follow the main tremor in the first hours, days, weeks or even months after the earthquake. These aftershocks can cause damages and also weaken buildings.
The causes of death or injury are seldom related to the ground movement. Most damages result from flying glass, collapsing walls, and buildings and falling objects. While the earthquakes are unpredictable, the ensuing damages are both predictable and preventable. A well-laid disaster and emergency preparedness plan and framework, and an educated and cooperative citizenry can spell a huge difference in curtailing the damages.
What are some of the things the people must remember to protect their lives, that of their families and their properties?
- Where earthquakes have previously occurred, they are bound to be repeated. Find out more by getting information from the local emergency management office, state geological survey, and department of natural resources and/or Red Cross. Being informed is good so that personal preparations can be beefed up.
- For you and your family’s sake, develop a family disaster plan. Picking the safe areas of the house is important to be discussed among members of the family such as under a sturdy table. Conduct drills especially with kids. Practice, drop, cover and hold-on. Get trainings and relay these trainings to the other members of the household. Give each one a task especially if there are very young kids in the house.
- Every home must have disaster supplies kit that contain basic needs as well as evacuation supply kit. These contain basic survival items such as flashlight, personal medicines, water, dehydrated foods, match, first-aid items, etc. Keep a flashlight and most basic clothing and gears on the bedside for easy access if and when earthquakes happen in the middle of the night. Invest in a portable generator in anticipation of power outages. However, read this before you buy one to make sure you’re putting your money on the best one.
- Conduct regular checkup of your home especially after an earthquake so you would be aware if there are certain weakened structural part. Have these reinforced to prevent it from collapsing in the event of a large tremor. Ensure that the chandeliers are firmly secured and that there are no stuff that will fall on you and your family during the quake and the aftershocks. Earthquake-proof your home so that the fragile items will not break and flammable materials will not catch fire.
Surely, there are still a lot of things you must do to prepare for an earthquake in order to keep the damages to a minimum. Staying calm and conscious is important so that everything that has been learned and practiced about disaster and emergency preparedness will come to the fore. Learn about your area’s susceptibilities from the local emergency preparedness to know what you’re up against.