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Earthquake preparedness

Written by Dr. Daliah Wachs
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As multiple earthquakes and aftershocks rattle the Southwestern US, seismologists predict more to come and people fear the “big one” could follow.

Here’s how to prepare:

Have An Emergency/Earthquake/Fire Readiness Plan

Assuming cell phones will not work in the event of a natural disaster, map out with family and friends where possible meeting sites will be.

Know your emergency exits and plan what to do in case of an earthquake/fire (explained below).

Have food, water and supplies stored in plastic garbage bags that can be easily grabbed and taken with you in case of an emergency.

Have an “emergency kit” with phone numbers, medications, money and other important documents in water-proof/fire-proof casing.

Include tools, whistles, flash lights and batteries in your emergency kit as well.

Ensure Your House is Safe

Loose foundations, awnings, book shelves, chandeliers and knickknacks to name a few could cause serious injury in the event of an earthquake.  Anchor down any loose fixtures.  Family members should know how to shut off gas/electric/water supplies and appliances should have flexible, break away connections. Avoid hanging anything heavy such as pictures or chandeliers above the bed.

Consult professionals if unsure if your house is able to withstand shifts in its foundation.

During a Quake

If indoors, take cover under a table, desk, or doorway.  Be careful of swinging doors, and keep hands and arms close to your body, covering your head if possible.

 

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Avoid running outside during an earthquake. Find a room in the house with few  wall/ceiling hangings and stay in the center to avoid windows, bookshelves or other furniture shifting and falling onto you.

If you’re in bed, and no time to run to a safe room, you can cover your head with a pillow.

If you are outside when the shaking starts, find an open area and drop to the ground, staying low.  Avoid power lines, trees, overpasses and buildings.

If in a vehicle when the shaking starts, pull over to a safe open area. Again avoid power lines, trees, buildings and overpasses.

After a Quake

Exit any damaged buildings, move away from them and go to an open area, and refrain from going into another building that may appear damaged.

If you live in an area near water, go to higher land in case a tsunami follows. 

If trapped inside, use a whistle or nearby object to alert first responders of where you may be.

For more information on earthquake preparedness, visit here.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.