An earthquake is a very destructive natural disaster; particularly in the Pacific Rim region.
After an earthquake, your home may be a mess and you might be left without a water supply and energy. There are several things you can do to prepare for an earthquake before it happens, to minimise the damage and potential for injury in and around your home.
Check for hazards inside your home and begin to fix them. There are a number of specific hazards in your home that you can deal with before an earthquake occurs.Fasten all shelves securely to the walls.Install shatter-safe window films to protect from breaking glass. In a pinch, placing masking tape across the diagonals of your windows can keep them from shattering.Use brackets to attach wall units, bookcases, and other tall furniture to wall studs. Standard steel brackets are fine and easy to apply.Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves or on the floor. They might fall during an earthquake and the less distance they have to fall, the better. You can also screw objects onto things, such as a desk.Use some non-slip mats to prevent heavy objects, or objects with a low center of gravity, from sliding. For example, fish bowls, vases, floral arrangements, statues, etc. Cut down to size if needed.Use an invisible nylon cord to secure tall, heavy items that can topple over to the wall. Place an eye screw in the wall, and tie the thread around the object (such as a vase) and then tie it to the eye screw.Place breakable items (bottles, glass, china, etc.) in closed cabinets that have latches. Lock or latch them up so that the cabinet doors cannot fly open. Use poster tack/plastic putty to keep ornaments, figurines, and glassware adhered to shelves and mantelpieces. (There are even special commercial quake putties available.)Heavy pictures, light fixtures, and mirrors should be hung away from beds, couches, and anywhere that someone might sit. Conventional picture hooks will not hold pictures during an earthquake but they are easy to fix – simply push the hook closed, or use a filler material to fill the gap between the hook and its backing. Other alternatives include buying special art hooks, and ensuring that heavy painting have adequate, strong hooks and strong cord.If you have any deep cracks in the ceiling or foundations, repair these immediately. You might need to consult an expert if there are signs of structural weakness. Make sure your foundation is properly braced.Evaluate your electrical wiring, electrical appliances, and gas connections. Do any repairs if needed. During an earthquake, faulty fittings and wiring can become a potential fire hazard. When securing appliances, be sure not to drill holes in them – use existing holes, or make loops from leather, etc., that can be glued onto an appliance.Overhead light fixtures should be braced to prevent them from falling.Fires after an earthquake can cause as much, if not more, damage than the earthquake. Store flammable products in closed cabinets with latches on the bottom shelf. Attach gas bottles to the wall to prevent them from toppling over. Use a chain and hooks in the wall to keep it in place. Have flexible fittings placed on your gas pipes. A professional plumber will need to do this. It’s also a good idea to have flexible fittings on your water pipes, so have these fixed at the same time.If your house has a chimney, this can be a source of injury if it topples during an earthquake. Secure it to the walls of the house using galvanized metal angles and bands at the top, ceiling line, and base. The angles can be bolted to the wall, and to ceiling joists or rafters if you have cladding on the house. For the part of the chimney sitting above the roof-line, brace it to the roof.
Create a Disaster Preparedness Plan. Know what you and your family are going to do before the earthquake happens. Form your plan together and go over it on a regular basis.Practice ‘drop, cover and hold on.’ Drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on firmly. Be prepared for shaking and falling objects.Identify good places for cover in your home. Under sturdy desks and tables and inside strong interior door frames are good places. If there is no other cover, lay on the floor next to an interior wall and protect your head and neck. Stay away from large furniture, mirrors, external walls and windows, kitchen cabinets, and anything heavy.Always remember to have a clean desk with no items on. If you have enough time, remove everything everything from the desk that is dangerous such as a knife or scissor. When an object strikes onto the table, the things on the desk would either go through the desk or possibly splatter every where. For example: There is a vase on the desk, when a rock hits it, the glass would shatter everywhere which may cause injuries. So, during the start of the earthquake you don’t have to remove items from the desk.Keep a pair of sturdy shoes and a pair of socks in a plastic bag under your bed. You may have broken glass on the floor. Keep a flashlight with them.Teach everyone in your household to use emergency whistles and/or to knock three times repeatedly if trapped. Rescuers searching collapsed buildings will be listening for sounds.Prepare yourself in first aid and CPR. There are resources in your community to educate you and your family on how to deal with first aid emergencies. Put together a comprehensive first aid kit.Decide on a rallying point for your family for after the earthquake. It should be away from buildings. Go over what your family should do in the event that not everyone makes it to the rallying point. If you have civil defence safety meeting points, be sure that every member of the family knows the location of the one closest to home, school, and work. Identify an out-of-area contact person that your family can call and get in touch with one another.Try to develop routes and methods for getting home after an earthquake has occurred. Since there is no precise time of day when an earthquake might strike, you may be at work, at school, on a bus, or in a train when one strikes. It is highly likely that you will need to know several ways to get home since roads and bridges will likely be obstructed for long periods of time.
Work with your community to be prepared. If there aren’t civic groups present in your area focused on earthquake preparedness, work on putting one together. The first step in keeping everyone safe is education.