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Home >> Library of Articles - Topics >> Natural Disasters >>Earthquakes >> Precautions and measures

  Earthquakes -  Precautions and measures
Source - " MADHU SAWANT "   " "  " "
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When you feel an earthquake, duck under a desk or sturdy table. Stay away from windows, bookcases, file cabinets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants, and other heavy objects that could fall. Watch out for falling plaster and ceiling tiles. Stay undercover until the shaking stops, and hold onto your cover. If it moves, move with it. Below are some additional tips for specific locations:

  • If you are in a HIGH-RISE BUILDING, and not near a desk or table, move against an interior wall and protect your head with your arms. Do not use the elevators. Do not be surprised if the alarm or sprinkler systems come on. Stay indoors. Glass windows can dislodge during the quake and sail for hundreds of feet.
  • If you're OUTDOORS, move to a clear area away from trees, signs, buildings, electrical wires, and poles.
  • If you're on a SIDEWALK NEAR BUILDINGS, duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, plaster, and other debris.
  • If you're DRIVING, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses, power lines, and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over.
  • If you're in a CROWDED STORE OR OTHER PUBLIC PLACE, do not rush for exits. Move away from display shelves containing objects that could fall.
  • If you're in a WHEELCHAIR, stay in it. Move to cover, if possible, lock your wheels, and protect your head with your arms.
  • If you're in the KITCHEN, move away from the refrigerator, stove, and overhead cupboards. (Take time NOW to anchor appliances, and install security latches on cupboard doors to reduce hazards.)
  • If you're in a STADIUM OR THEATER, stay in your seat and protect your head with your arms. Do not try to leave until the shaking is over, then leave in a calm, orderly manner. Avoid rushing toward exits.


  • Be prepared for aftershocks, and plan where you will take cover when they occur.
  • Check for injuries. Give first aid, as necessary.
  • Remain calm and reassure others.
  • Avoid broken glass.
  • Check for fire. Take appropriate actions and precautions.
  • Check gas, water, and electric lines. If damaged, shut off service. If gas is leaking, don't use matches, flashlights, appliances, or electric switches. Open windows, leave building, and report to gas company.
  • Replace all telephone receivers, and use for emergency calls only.
  • Tune to the emergency broadcast station on radio or television. Listen for emergency bulletins.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.


  • Create a Family Earthquake Plan
  • Know the safe spot in each room, (under sturdy tables, desks, or against inside walls).
  • Know the danger spots, (windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall furniture).
  • Conduct practice drills. Physically place yourself and your children in safe locations.
  • Learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) from your local Red Cross or other community organization.
  • Decide where your family will reunite, if separated.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers.
  • Choose an out-of-state friend or relative whom family members can call after the quake to report your condition. Carry emergency contact cards with out of state contact phone numbers.
  • Learn how to shut off gas, water, and electricity in case the lines are damaged.
  • Check chimneys, roofs, and wall foundations for stability. Note: If your home was built before 1935, make sure your house is bolted to its foundation. If your home is on a raised foundation, make sure the cripple walls have been made into shear walls. Call a licensed contractor if you have any questions.
  • Secure Heavy Furnishings
  • Secure water heater and appliances that could move enough to rupture utility lines.
  • Keep breakable and heavy objects on lower shelves. Put latches on cabinet doors to keep them closed during shaking.
  • Keep flammable or hazardous liquids such as paints, pest sprays, or cleaning products in cabinets or secured on lower shelves.
  • Maintain emergency food, water, medicine, first aid kit, tools, and clothing.


First aid kits are vital following any emergency. They can also come in very handy on a day to day basis when someone is injured. To be useful, a first aid kit must be accessible and ready. Store the kit in a location that will be accessible following the turmoil of an earthquake.

Do not forget your cars! You also need a well-stocked first aid kit for each vehicle.

Supplies need to be rotated and kept fresh, especially in vehicles where heat can shorten the life of your first aid supplies. We recommend checking and updating all of your first aid supplies twice a year. A good time is when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. (This is also the time to check your smoke detector batteries).


  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Medications For All Family Members
  • Aspirin and/or Pain Relief Medication
  • Diarrhea Medication
  • Eye Drops
  • Cold/Cough Medicine
  • Benadryl
  • Insect Spray
  • Ear and Nose Drops
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Skin Disinfectant Spray
  • Extra Prescription Medication
  • Old Pair Of Prescription Eyeglasses For Spare


  • Band-aids
  • Medical Latex Gloves
  • Surgical Mask
  • Instant Cold Packs
  • Instant Hot Packs
  • Ace Bandages
  • Butterfly Bandages
  • Gauze Pads
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Adhesive Tape
  • 2" & 4" Wide Sterile Bandage Rolls
  • Triangular Bandage For Sling, Etc. (37" x 37" x 52")
  • Tongue Depressors (Pop-sickle Sticks)
  • Splint Material
  • Spray Bottle With 10% Bleach Solution For Disinfecting Objects.



During an earthquake, stay away from heavy furniture, appliances, large panes of glass, shelves holding heavy objects, and
masonry veneer (such as the fireplace). These items tend to fall or break and can injure you. Usually, a hallway is one of the safest places if it is not crowded with objects. Kitchens and garages tend to be the most dangerous. Also, know the safest place in each room. It will be difficult to move from one place to another during a severe earthquake.

EXITS AND ALTERNATIVE EXITS: Always know all the possible ways to exit your house and workplace in emergency situations. Try to discover exits that would only be available to you in an emergency.

LOCATION OF SHUT-OFF VALVES: Know the location of the shutoff valves for water, gas, and electricity. If you are not sure, contact your utility company


ELDERLY, DISABLED, OR PERSONS UNDER MEDICATION: These people may have difficulty moving around after an earthquake. Plan to have someone help them to evacuate if necessary. Also, they may need special foods or medication. Be sure to store several days' supply of these special provisions.

PERSONS WHO DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH: People who cannot speak English often rely on their family or friends for information. If they are separated during an earthquake, they may need help. Prepare emergency information cards, written in English, indicating identification, address, and special needs.

PETS: After an earthquake, you should be concerned with your own safety before taking care of your pets. Storing extra food and water for pets is always a good idea. Keep them in a secure place at home after an earthquake. If you are evacuated, they will not be allowed at the emergency shelter.



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