On 10/20 at 10:20 am, nearly twenty million people in the United States will take cover for the Great American Shakeout. Would you know what to do if the ground started shaking? Preparedness is key to surviving any natural disaster. That’s why FEMA, America’s Preparathon and several other organizations are partnering up for an earthquake drill.
All 50 states are at some risk for earthquakes. Scientists have no way of predicting when they will happen. It could be any day, at any time. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass and falling objects. It is extremely important for a person to move as little as possible to reach a place of safety. Problems occur when you try to move more than a short distance during the shaking.
So what should you do during an earthquake?
According to rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of earthquakes and other disasters around the world, they continue to advocate the use of the internationally recognized “Drop, Cover and Hold On” protocol to protect lives during earthquakes.
DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
Here are some locations to think about during an earthquake:
In bed: If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.
In a high-rise: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.
In a stadium or theater: Stay at your seat or drop to the floor between rows and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don’t try to leave until the shaking is over. Then walk out slowly watching for anything that could fall in the aftershocks.
In a store: When Shaking starts, Drop Cover and Hold On. A shopping cart or getting inside clothing racks can provide some protection. If you must move to get away from heavy items on high shelves, drop to the ground first and crawl only the shortest distance necessary. Whenever you enter any retail store, take a moment to look around: What is above and around you that could move or fall during an earthquake? Then use your best judgment to stay safe.
Outdoors: Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards.
Driving: Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
Near the shore: Drop, Cover, and Hold On until the shaking stops. If severe shaking lasts twenty seconds or more, immediately evacuate to high ground as a tsunami might have been generated by the earthquake. Move inland two miles or to land that is at least 100 feet above sea level immediately. Don’t wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk quickly, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris and other hazards.
Once your plan is in place, it’s time to build a survival kit. Survival kits should include food, water, medicine, first aid kit, blankets, and a whistle to signal for help. Don’t forget about pets too!