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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Disaster Preparedness - Earthquakes


In the event of an earthquake, there is no better way to avoid injury and death than preparing the home and knowing what damage earthquakes cause and how they do it. Every year, thousands of people die as a direct result of earthquakes--but not necessarily because of the movement of the ground beneath them. In fact, these sorts of deaths are quite rare.
It is more common to die because of a lack of preparation: people don't know where the safest place to be is during an earthquake, the community isn't prepared, the buildings aren't safe, or there isn't any good food or water to support communities after the earthquake takes out electricity and makes it unsafe to go outside looking for food.
Knowing all the facts about earthquakes and all the recommendations by experts will not only help save lives; it can protect homes and businesses, result in fewer injuries, and lessen the number of people the government and emergency rescuers will have to save.
First, people should understand that earthquakes come with little and often no warning. Seismic activity is difficult to detect until it is actually on the surface, causing damage. People will often get no warning at all, except for the standard declaration to be prepared for an earthquake, particularly if people live near a fault line, or in an area with a lot of seismic activity.
States like California, Alaska, and Hawaii are of course notorious for their earthquakes. But lesser known states like Nevada, Washington, and even Utah and Oregon are in the list of the top ten states for seismic activity. Basically, those who live in the western U.S. are more likely to be affected by seismic activity than those further east. (Though there are a few exceptions--check USGS.gov to see the seismic activity of each state.)
And since an earthquake can and will strike anywhere and at any time (there's no such thing as an earthquake season), people need to prepared themselves as soon as possible.
As previously stated, the first thing people should do is prepare themselves and their homes. First, check for hazards around the home. These can include light fixtures not braced to the ceiling and walls, cracks in the foundation or ceiling, large, heavy, or breakable objects on high, uncovered shelves, or pictures and mirrors near furniture, among others.
Be sure to fix these things before an earthquake actually occurs, or there could be serious damage and even injury done.
Next, identify safe places around the home and develop a plan for everyone in the household. The safest place to be is indoors, under steady furniture (like a table or desk) or against an inside wall, and away from glass. People who are outdoors when an earthquake occurs should do their best to get away from buildings and into an open area.
Once there, they should stay there until they have been told by officials that it is safe to move. The whole household should understand what to do once they have found their safe places in which to wait out the earthquake. Just like in a fire, where the life-saving mantra is "Stop, Drop, and Roll," for an earthquake, it's: "Drop, Cover, and Hold On."
Families being separated during an earthquake is a very real possibility, with parents at work, and children out and about at school and friends' houses. That's why everyone in the household should be aware of a meeting place in the neighborhood where everyone will reunite after the earthquake.
It's also a good idea to establish an out-of-state contact for the family to communicate with, since people nearby may not have any communication devices that work. Finally, just as schools practice earthquake drills to prepare their students for the disaster, families should have these every six months or so, just to keep everyone's memory fresh.
Once a plan has been set, next it is important to have a kit of emergency supplies. This is crucial in any emergency, but in an earthquake, where roads and communications could be destroyed for as long as several weeks, it is vital that people are self-sustaining.
It may not even be safe to go outside because of power lines, gas mains, and other dangerous services
Each emergency kit should have a first aid kit [http://www.thereadystore.com/emergency-first-aid], complete with medications (both prescription and over-the-counter items for pain and cleaning wounds), bandages, and other essentials.
These essentials include things like scissors, thermometers, splinting materials, and many others. A standard first aid kit should have all of these things, so people won't have to worry about where to find and store all of it.
Authorities also recommend that people have a survival kit for their home and automobile. These kits would include things like tools and supplies, sleeping materials, alternative shelter, and light and communication.
The automobile kit includes these things, plus important auto supplies like jumper cables, ropes for towing, and a map and compass, among others. Basically, it is important to plan for any possibility since earthquakes are unpredictable and sometimes causes damage that no one could have foreseen.
In the case of becoming trapped, it is also crucial to have some food stored as well as some water. If the earthquake is large enough, FEMA and other emergency organizations will not be able to free all the survivors in a few days.
People may have to become more self-reliant if they want to survive an earthquake. Experts recommend having at least two weeks' work of nonperishable food and water stored if they want to be prepared for any possible emergency.
Once someone is prepared for an earthquake, the actual event is much less terrifying than it could be. When indoors, people should remember to Drop, Cover, and Hold on to any secure, sturdy object. Stay away from glass, windows, elevators, and light fixtures.
Do not attempt to go outdoors until well after the shaking has stopped, since most earthquake-related deaths are a result of falling debris from buildings. When outdoors, get away from buildings as soon as possible, as well as any power lines, street lights, or other monuments that could cause damage. Stay in the open and do not try to enter a building until authorities say that it is secure.
If someone is in a car when the earthquake occurs, they should pull over as soon as safety permits and stay there. Exiting the vehicle will only result in greater injury. Don't stop under or near buildings, overpasses, or things like trees or power lines. And finally, if someone does become trapped under debris, they should stay calm. Blow a whistle if possible, but do not light a match to get rescuers' attention.
That can result in a fire if there are any dangerous spilled chemicals; and if there is that much debris, chances are good that there will be. The person trapped should cover their mouth and nose with a piece of cloth to limit the amount of dust they breathe in, and they should tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can find them.
After the shaking stops, first check oneself and those nearby for any injuries. If someone is seriously injured, don't move them unless they are in danger of being injured further. Do give first aid whenever possible. Next, check the house or other buildings for damage. Put out fires and turn off the gas if anything smells strange or if there is a hissing sound.
Finally, everyone should expect aftershocks (every time there is one, be sure to repeat the same drill: Drop, Cover, and Hold On) and be constantly listening to the radio or some other form of emergency broadcasting so they can know when the earthquake is officially over and when it is safe to go indoors again.
Ben J Tanner

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