Earthquake preparedness: How to stay safe if you're caught in an earthquake
On July 4, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook the Mojave Desert – a preview of the 7.1-magnitude quake that came the following evening, triggering power outages, fires, and thousands of aftershocks.
Unlike other natural disasters, earthquakes can hit anytime, anywhere, with no warning. However, most people do not have earthquake insurance because they don’t know they are at risk. While Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Puerto Rico and the Mississippi Valley are at higher risk, no U.S. state is safe from earthquakes.
Not only can earthquakes damage roadways and buildings, but they can also cause a domino effect leading to fires, tsunamis, landslides, avalanches and power outages. It is crucial you know what to do to stay safe if an earthquake occurs.
Before an earthquake
- Talk to your family and co-workers and agree on a meeting place if you’re separated. Establish a communications plan and include an out-of-town contact.
- Have a disaster kit in your safe room (and your vehicle) for every member in your family. At a minimum, this includes at least one gallon of water per person for at least three days, non-perishable food, a NOAA weather radio, flashlights/batteries, first aid kit, hygiene products and cash in single dollar bills. Include items specifically for loved ones with special needs, seniors, children and pets to ensure their comfort following disaster.
- Secure items such as picture frames/artwork on the walls, bookcases and televisions. Store fragile and heavy items on low shelves.
- Know how to turn off your home’s water, gas and electricity.
- Consider earthquake insurance. Like flood insurance, earthquake insurance is NOT included in a standard homeowner’s insurance policy.
- For peace of mind and no power interruption, consider purchasing a home standby generator. A home standby generator like the Cummins Quiet Connect will automatically restore your power the moment it goes off, keeping critical appliances, security systems, and smart home devices online. According to one family that endured a 7.0-magnitude earthquake with the help of Cummins, "Being able to have heat, lights, the stove and refrigerator – while keeping my family and pets safe and comfortable – was worth every penny I spent."
During an earthquake: Stop, drop and hold on!
- Stop what you’re doing, drop to your hands and knees, get under something sturdy such as a table, and hold on. If shelter is not available, crawl next to an interior wall and stay there until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck from possible falling debris.
- Stay away from windows.
- If you are awakened in bed, stay there, turn your face down and cover your head and neck with a pillow.
- Do not go outside. If you are outdoors, stay away from buildings or anything else that could fall on you.
- If you are driving a vehicle, safely pull over and stop. Put your car in park with your emergency brake.
After an earthquake
- Check for personal injuries and help others if you have first aid/CPR training. Call 911 if there are serious injuries, but prepare to be the “first responder” until help arrives.
- If you are in a damaged building, go outside and get away from the building if it’s safe to do so.
- Stay away from downed power lines and leaking gas and water lines.
- If you are trapped, protect your eyes, nose and mouth from dust/smoke. If you have a cell phone signal, call or send a text (text messages are more reliable following a disaster), bang on a wall or pipe, or use a whistle to call for help.
- If you are in an area prone to tsunamis, get to higher ground immediately after the shaking stops.
- Tune in to local news reports via radio, TV or social media for instructions and emergency alerts.
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a portable generator or grill indoors.
- Register with the Red Cross’ www.SafeAndWell.org to let loved ones know you are okay.
If you'd like more information about whole house generator options, please visit homegenerators.cummins.com to contact a dealer. And be sure to sign up for the Cummins newsletter to get valuable resources and tips to help your family. Follow @CherylNelsonTV on Facebook and Twitter for more natural disaster preparedness tips.