Earthquakes are unique natural phenomena. Unlike hurricanes, heavy storms and other natural disasters that show early signs, earthquakes strike as a surprise without any warning. Although if you reside in earthquake-prone areas like in volcanic active places, there are measures you can consider in your home to effectively manage an earthquake situation.
For your house to be earthquake ready and be able to survive tremors, preparedness is vital. This means:
- Understanding what to do before, during and after earthquakes.
- And actually learning how to execute those measures now, until the next quake.
Earthquake Ready Homes Means Absolute Preparedness
Cities also prepare for earthquakes and that’s why engineers come up with new building designs, highways and bridges that can withstand tremors and quakes. But for families, this means ensuring you have an effective earthquake preparedness plan and your disaster kit stocked. Most importantly, the plan should clearly state what to do before, in the event and after an earthquake.
What to do Before an Earthquake
An earthquake can last up to 30 seconds, but the damage thereafter can take days and even months to fix. So how do you make your home safer and earthquake ready? To start with, closely assess your building structure and contents to spot any cracks and line of weaknesses.
Any house is susceptible and vulnerable to earthquakes if its design didn’t consider this natural disaster during the foundation stage. But some of the common structural risks to inspect include structures buildings or structure not attached from their foundation, unreinforced foundations, unbraced cripple walls or weak crawl space walls.
After ensuring the building structure and foundation are repaired and reinforced for more stability, secure objects within the house by anchoring overhead fixtures such as chandeliers and lighting to the ceiling. Objects that move can break easily as your house experiences tremors, therefore, take note of every single object in your every room in your house, especially the heavy or the expensive ones. Using a flexible fastener, secure items such cabinets, drawers, home electronics, air conditioning system, bookcase and heavy wall art.
Anything that can’t be stored in secured cabinets should be securely fastened. An earthquake can leave you cut off from basic survival items like food, water and medicine so you need to store more of these essentials to last you at least 72 hours. The emergency kit should be stored in an easily accessible area of the house in case an earthquake strikes.
Having electricity after an earthquake is nothing short of a miracle. In most cases, electricity is disrupted and so does most of the communication channels depending on electricity. This means you can’t fully depend on landline or cell phone communication during the disaster. Have someone from a different state act as the family contact person who’ll liaise and help reunite family members in the event they are separated during an earthquake. And the contact person’s details including name, phone number and address should be familiar to everyone in the family.
Earthquake Ready Mechanisms and How to Keep Safe
Earthquake preparation is one thing, but keeping safe during an earthquake is a whole different thing. Tension, panic and emotions run wild and no one prepares you for that. However, the preparedness plan should be enough to help go through it. In the event of an earthquake here’s what you should do to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible.
- Reduce movements
- Go to a safe place like covering under a table or desk
- If you can’t find furniture to hide under, drop down and cover your head and crawl to a corner of the house.
- Don’t move until the tremors have stopped and it’s clear to come out.
The Aftermath of An Earthquake and What to do
Carefully and slowly come out of hiding as you avoid broken windows and glasses, and check for injuries. If you are alone, head straight outside to an open area away from buildings. Dealing with the after-effects of an earthquake should follow immediately to avoid potential hazards.
- Put out small fires
- Close main water supply valve and seal leaking pipes
- Shut of the power from the main switch board
- Shut of leaking gas
For serious structural damage that poses great danger, simply evacuate the house and move to a safer place.