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In The Community Published February 5, 2020Last Updated February 28, 2020

Earthquake Safety Checklist

Earthquakes are one of the most destructive of nature’s forces. They are caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock, as it releases the energy that has accumulated over a long time. Also, earthquakes occur without warning and can happen at any time in any area of the United States. That’s why all property owners must follow an earthquake safety checklist.

Due to their unpredictable nature and the amount of damage they can cause, everyone should be prepared for an earthquake. Here is what you should do before, during, and after an earthquake. Also, below are tips on how to know if your home is earthquake-resistant.

Earthquake Safety Checklist

How to prepare for an earthquake

  • Make an emergency kit that can last at least three days. Make sure the kit includes water, non-perishable food, and other essential items.
  • Create a family emergency plan. Establish a meeting place outside the home to ensure that everyone in the family knows where to meet each other should you get separated.
  • Practice the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” drill:
    • Locate a sturdy piece of furniture or a corner or an interior wall that you can quickly reach.
    • Get under the furniture or go near the corner or interior wall.
    • Drop to the ground and cover your head and neck with your arms.
    • Hold on to any sturdy covering and wait until the earthquake stops.
    • Practice often to be able to react quickly.
  • Check for loose items in your home that could fall, such as light fixtures, bookshelves, or mirrors. Secure these items firmly so they don’t cause injuries during earthquakes.
  • Have your home or property inspected and make sure it’s earthquake resistant. Find out what criteria buildings should meet to be earthquake resistant below.

How to stay safe during an earthquake

  • If you’re inside a building, perform the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” technique, as explained above.
  • Never go outside, as debris might fall on you on your way out.
  • Stay away from windows, glass, doors, and any objects that might fall, such as light fixtures.
  • Contrary to popular belief, you should not get in a doorway since it doesn’t provide enough protection from flying objects. You might also fall and get injured if you stay in a doorway.
  • If you are outside, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires, then drop, cover and hold on, as described above. In the city, you might need to get inside a building to stay safe.
  • If you are in a moving vehicle, stop the car safely, but avoid parking near trees or buildings. Stay inside the car until the shaking is over.

When the shaking stops:

  • If you are inside a building, locate a safe exit. Get out and stay away from damaged structures.
  • If you are trapped, don’t move. Use your cellphone if you have on with you. Wait for rescuers to come for you. Whistle, or tap on a pipe or wall, to help them locate you.
  • If you are in a car, drive carefully, and avoid damaged roads or bridges.

Earthquake Safety Checklist – Is your house earthquake-resistant?

  • Any property owner should ensure their home and other buildings they spend time in are safe during earthquakes and resistant to earthquake damage.
  • Depending on when and how it was designed and built, the structure you live in may have weaknesses that make it more vulnerable to earthquakes, such as:
    • The structure is not anchored to its foundation or has weak crawlspace walls.
    • The pier-and-post foundations are weak.
    • The masonry walls or foundations are not reinforced.
  • Get professional help to assess the building’s structure. Then, take steps to install nonstructural solutions, including foundation bolting, cripple wall bracing, and reinforced chimneys.
  • If you live in a mobile home, consider installing an earthquake-resistant bracing system.
  • Those who live in a rented house should ask their landlord or property manager to make the necessary improvements to make the building safer.
  • If you are building or buying a home, ensure that it complies with the seismic provisions of your local building code.
  • Ensure that plumbers have installed flexible connectors on all gas appliances and repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections, as all of these are potential fire risks. Hire appropriate professional help — don’t work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
  • Check with your local emergency management office and ask if there are any volunteer teams in your community to help you with these assessments.

For professional emergency restoration services, call PuroClean

In the aftermath of an earthquake, properties can suffer major water or fire damage. That’s when PuroClean can help rescue the property by providing water, fire, or biohazard cleanup services. If you require any of those services, contact your local PuroClean office 24/7.