Do You Have An Earthquake Plan?
By Jessica Snow
Survival in any disaster is statistically a much higher probability when we are prepared. We can be a beacon of light and hope for all those around us by having thought out a strategy ahead of time and thus being able to implement the plan when needed. The purpose of this article is to focus specifically on how to be prepared for an earthquake.
It is important for everyone to have an earthquake plan, not only for people who live on the Pacific Ring of Fire, but for everyone “downstream” of the path of seismic pressure. Seismic pressure flows through the underside of the earth’s plates, traverses the plate boundaries, and is released through weak points in the earth’s crust, such as volcanoes, fault zones, and drilling sites. Nearly everyone lives in proximity to at least one of those areas where the earth’s outer layer has been fractured, making it prone to becoming a release valve for built up seismic pressure, which subsequently causes the shaking.
Earthquakes cause the earth to shake mainly in two ways: a rippling motion, and a larger sideways movement. The ripples, known as primary waves, or P waves, spread out from the epicenter more quickly than those that cause the rolling sideways motions, which are known as secondary waves, or S waves. Most of the major destruction is caused by the larger S waves
Here are some ways we can be prepared in the event of an earthquake:
Look around your house now to see what objects could fall from the walls, shelves, cabinets, and ceilings, such as lights, dry wall, recessed lighting, track lighting, etc. A ceiling fan wobbling during an earthquake can be a hazard, as can falling dry wall. Even a loose piece of plaster can become a projectile and cause injury.
Know what you would do to avoid harm. The current advise is to seek cover under a sturdy table or desk. According to experts, door frames are no longer recommended as the safest place to be during an earthquake. A strong table or desk will give you more coverage than a door frame. In addition, if you are in a public building there may be a stampede of panicking people, pushing and shoving to escape the building through doorways.
Take the appropriate steps now to secure any objects you can that might fall. Clear, high- test fishing line or braided fishing line can be used to anchor down television sets, large vases, paintings, mirrors, standing cabinets, and other items. If loose articles start tipping or banging around, this fishing line, which has been secured to the wall or floor, will prevent them from falling, breaking, or blocking passage ways.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Practice situational awareness at all times. Whether you are in your own home, a restaurant, a store, or other building, even while driving in your car, have an exit plan and know what to do in case of an emergency. Once earthquakes reach a magnitude of 5.0, they most likely go on for a few seconds. Wood frame houses will withstand a shaking better than old brick or stone buildings. Once there is a crack in a brick or stone building, if it is a wall or supporting structure, the probability of collapse is much higher.
You will need an exit plan for an earthquake above a 5.0 magnitude, just to be safe. Know which door you will be using. Know what is outside the door that could potentially fall and cause injuries, such as bricks from a chimney. Know where to go outside your structure if the shaking continues for more than a few seconds. Once objects start falling off of shelves, or you begin to hear major breaking occurring, that’s when your plan of action comes in.
Make sure your family members, children, roommates, employees, etc., also know the plan. Arrange for them to meet at a pre-specified safe location if they are separated before or during the event.
Those who have taken shelter inside a building that is shaking are much more in tune with what is happening around them than those who are running around in a panic. They are able to hear tell-tale signs of a potential collapsing building and then can make an informed decision about when to exit.
Here are some basic fundamentals to consider when preparing for a shaking:
Are there large or heavy pieces of furniture nearby exits that could slide, blocking your way out, such as coat racks, book shelves, etc.? You don’t want to waste time attempting to move furniture out of your path of escape.
Install latches on your cabinet doors to keep dishes and other objects from falling out and breaking, causing additional hazards from flying debris or cut glass on the floor.
Install earthquake straps on water heaters to prevent them from traveling and bursting.
See this website for useful information:Earthquake Bracing For Water Heaters
If your home appliances use natural gas or propane, keep a wrench handy near the main shut off valve. You can attach it with a zip tie so it will be there when you need it. Once the valve is turned off, however, do not turn it back on by yourself. It must be turned on by a qualified person, such as a gas company service technician or a licensed plumber. Make sure other household members or employees also know where to locate the gas shutoff valve and how to shut it off. Also know where the main water shutoff valve is located – just in case!
Here are a few websites with more information:
How to Locate Your Gas Shutoff Valve and Water Shutoff Valve
How to Shut Off Your Home Gas Supply Valve
Locating and Operating Your Main Water Shut-Off Valve
Types of Water Shut-Off Valves
Keep a pair of shoes next to your bed in case an earthquake occurs at night. You don’t want to be walking over fallen debris, possibly cut glass, on your way to take cover or on your way out the door.
Prepare a bug out bag (BOB) to keep near your planned exit door, or maybe even one for each door if you live in a large house. You may want to keep one in your car or at work. You can stock it with items you probably already have around the house. It should contain a day’s supply of necessities.
For immediate short term use, consider packing these items into your BOB:
A few bottles of water. If you want to do more preparation, a Berkey or Seychelle Water Bottle with Filtration System , purification tablets, or other methods for water purification.
Energy bars, freeze-dried food pouches with meals or snacks, or cans of high protein, high calorie foods. Remember to pack a few plastic spoons or forks, and also a can opener if you decide on canned foods. Cans are obviously much heavier than dry goods, but on the plus side they will also supply extra liquid for hydration.
Flashlight with extra batteries, and a GMAG. Headlamps are very convenient and practical to keep your hands free for other tasks.
A change of clothes, jacket, hat, walking shoes, light rain coat. Heavy gloves for warmth as well as for sifting through debris if necessary.
In a worst case scenario, if your neighborhood is evacuated and only residents are allowed back in, you will want to be able to prove who you are and that you actually live there.(You will need a recent utility bill and your ID as proof of residency)
First aid kit, including any necessary personal medication or prescriptions. See this link at Trading Post in the Woods for other suggestions for emergency first aid.
Sanitation and Hygiene
Wet wipes, mouthwash (do not use toothpaste to clean your mouth until you have a safe, abundant water supply), TP, hand sanitizer, feminine products, etc.
Cell phone and charger and/or some other form of communication, such as walkie-talkies in the event that cell phone service is interrupted. A prepaid, rechargeable, inexpensive flip phone can be kept in the BOB so you will always have some form of communication ready to go instantly. Wind-up AM/FM NOAA weather radio – these also come with a cell phone charger.
Proof of insurance
Copies of your house, car, and medical insurance policies so you can take care of business ASAP, rather than have to wait because you don’t have your insurance companies’ phone numbers or your policy numbers.
Miscellaneous items to consider:
Matches or lighter; extra set of car and house keys; extra pair of glasses; multi-tool; emergency whistle; duct tape; 550 paracord; dental floss (comes in handy for a multitude of uses); mirror for signaling; garbage bags that can double for rain protection; some form of self defense, depending on your situation.
Personalize your BOB with essential items for yourself and family members, babies, pets, etc. Think of whatever you would need to have on hand for your particular climate, living conditions, and circumstances. For example, are there poisonous snakes or venomous insects in your area that you need to be aware of? Watch children and pets especially, who may wander into the path of dangerous predicaments with wildlife that feel confused and threatened.
Think about possible scenarios, such as being rousted out of warm quarters in the middle of the night in your pajamas, or during cold or stormy weather. What if you are in the shower and a strong earthquake hits! Grab your BOB and head out the door. At least you’ll have some clothes to put on and won’t have to waste precious time fumbling around trying to get dressed while the earth is moving beneath your feet!
If you live near a coastline, it is imperative to have an exit plan to higher ground. An earthquake off the coast can produce a tsunami, or seismic wave, anywhere from a few inches to over a hundred feet. A tsunami is actually a series of waves caused by a sudden earth movement under water. Know what your elevation is, and have a route already planned out, to travel quickly to higher ground, at least 200 feet above sea level. You may even be advised to evacuate if there is a major quake anywhere in the world. As tsunami waves travel across oceans and become compressed near the coastline, the wavelength is shortened and the wave energy is directed upward, which considerably increases their heights. Even though earthquakes can be hazardous events, the ensuing tsunamis do the most damage and take the most lives. The water will also seek the path of least resistance, traveling into rivers and inlets. Tsunamis can reach as far as 10 miles inland, depending on the shape and slope of the shoreline.
Whether you live on the coast or are vacationing there at the time of a strong coastal quake, be sure to head for high ground immediately! You cannot wait for the authorities to issue an official warning, because a local tsunami could be minutes away if one has been generated.
Please refer to this excellent website of the International Tsunami Information Center for specifics regarding tsunami risk zones and other pertinent facts.
Taking a few simple steps now and thinking about just little things can make a huge difference in a time of emergency. Those who have invested the time to consider various possible scenarios in their own situations are able to make wise, quick and life-saving decisions early on, both during and after an earthquake event. They will be much better off than if they had not even thought about a plan, an escape route, or made preparations for the immediate aftermath.
Finally, earthquakes are NOT random! Earthquakes CAN be and ARE being forecast, simply by applying the basic principles of Newtonian Physics. It has been demonstrated over and over and over again by individuals who have studied and documented the progression of quakes. The location, approximate window of time, and even probable magnitude can now be calculated using these proven methods.
The good news is that anyone can forecast an earthquake! For more information on how it is done, visit the website of Dutchsinse, who has been forecasting earthquakes for over eight years, with an accuracy rate higher than weather forecasters. Just as it is possible to predict a storm by observing meteorological signs, so it is also possible to predict when and where an earthquake will strike by following the path and progression of seismic pressure.