After an Earthquake, What to Do

Terremoto in Emilia, Italy, Cavezzo - earthquake

After an earthquake event devastating property damage will cause panic in most of the population. Emergency earthquake responders will be busy responding to the greatest damage. Take steps to prepare your home and recover from the earthquake quickly.

1. Expect earthquake aftershocks  

Expect frequent aftershocks. The secondary shock waves are less violent the main quake. They can cause additional damage to structures already weakened. Listen for the latest emergency information on the radio.

In the home, open cabinets carefully. Objects can fall off shelves and cause injuries. Stay away from damaged structures. Remain in your home if it is safe. Unless your assistance has been requested by fire, police or relief workers stay off the roads.

2. Check all utilities after an earthquake

Check utilities for damage. If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound open a window and quickly leave the structure. Shut off the gas at the outside gas meter and call the gas company. Check for electrical system damage such as sparks or broken wires. Turn off the electrical supply at the main circuit panel and call the utility immediately. Check for water line damage such as leaks or flooding. Turn off the water service at the main valve. Call and report any water main leak.

Clean up spilled bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids. Leave the area quickly if you smell gasoline or fumes from other chemicals.

After a major quake or disaster, you may be on your own for the next 72 hours. Emergency personal are going to be busy. If you have assembled your emergency supplies, you are going to be able to survive this event.

  • Expect after shocks
  • Check all utilities for problems
  • Assist neighbors
  • Plan for the next 72 hours

3. What to do if you are not prepared

Water remains your primary concern. If the city water is still functioning, fill containers from a kitchen faucet or outside faucet. Do not use a garden hose. Garden hoses are manufactured with chemical laden plastics not approved for drinkable water. Each toilet tank (not the toilet bowl) holds 3-5 gallons of drinkable water. Siphon the tank water into portable containers. For city water that is contaminated, boil the water for 1 minute, let cool, add 8 drops of household bleach per gallon of water and stir. Let stand for 20 minutes before drinking.

Emergency food from the pantry: canned goods like beans are high in protean, canned fruits and vegetables should be consumed next, then meat for protean. Avoid canned goods that are high in salt or dehydrated food that will quickly consume the emergency water supply. Most canned goods have a shelf life of 2-years or more before losing nutritional value, color and texture.

Proper sanitation is important to prevent disease.

Sanitation emergency supplies:

• Toilet paper
• Soap
• Liquid detergent
• Feminine supplies

Personal hygiene items

• Plastic garbage bags and ties (for human waste)
• Plastic bucket with tight lid (for sanitation items)
• Disinfectant
• Chlorine bleach

There are dozens of emergency sanitation kits on the market that will supply most of these items in a convenient package.

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