Aftershocks may come unexpectedly, but you can prepare for them. Keeping yourself safe after an earthquake is no easy task. But it can be done with a little forethought and planning.
Stay calm and know where you’re going
If an earthquake has a strong chance of happening, get in your car, shut the doors, and drive to your nearest open, populated area. If you’re in a city, head out of the city and into the surrounding suburbs. In rural areas, consider heading to the next town over.
If you’re out in the country, drive as far as possible from bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and oceans. If an earthquake is already underway, you don’t know where it will take you. Roads may not be passable. So if you’re not in a populated area, head to the nearest open area.
Drop to your knees
When you feel the tremor of an earthquake, drop to your knees. That option puts you on the ground where you are less likely to be injured by falling objects or electrical equipment. Power lines and fallen items like ceiling tiles or wood may not pose a threat if you’re on the ground.
Hold on to a table or chair
If you’re indoors and an earthquake is underway, hold on to a table or a chair until the shaking stops. When you drop to your knees, put your arms around the table or chair and hold on. This will make you less likely to fall over and more stable as the earthquake and its aftershocks shake the walls and floors of your home.
Stay indoors unless absolutely necessary
When you feel an earthquake, immediately head for a nearby interior room, like a bathroom or closet. If you’re outdoors and the earthquake is strong enough, head for an interior room like a doorway or a sturdy building. If the earthquake is not strong enough to warrant a trip indoors, you must go out of the building.
You must be outdoors, but you must avoid weak areas like power lines, gas lines, and water sources, which could result in an explosion. If a strong earthquake is occurring, stay indoors until it is over.
Shut windows and doors immediately
After the shaking stops, close all windows and doors. Anything that was open during the earthquake should be closed. Water pipes, gas lines, and electrical wires may have been broken. An open window or door could have been a weak point that caused a potential danger.
Get under the sturdy base of your table or desk
If you’re indoors, put a sturdy piece of furniture, like a table or desk, under you. This can act as a protective base from falling objects, walls, and ceilings. Hold on to the table or desk for support. That way, you aren’t lying on the floor, which could be dangerous if there is broken glass or nails.
When you’re outdoors, get under a sturdy wall, doorway, or cement barrier. That wall, doorway, or cement barrier can act as a protective shield from falling objects and walls. If there’s no sturdy wall or barrier nearby, get under a sturdy, open car or truck. That may be the safest option.
Find an open area, like a plaza, and stay there until the shaking stops. Mark your position with a flag so you can find your way back later.
If you’re outdoors and the earthquake is strong enough, find an open area, like a plaza. Stay there until the shaking stops. It may be safer than staying indoors. If you are outdoors and the earthquake is not strong enough to warrant a trip indoors, you must go outside.
If there are no open areas nearby, find a low-lying area, like a ditch or a road. Avoid elevated areas, like buildings. Stay away from bodies of water. Avoid weak areas, like power lines, gas lines, and water sources, which could result in an explosion.
Avoid weak spots in buildings
As you recover from the earthquake, head to the nearest building and try to find a safer spot inside. Try to avoid entering buildings that are unstable, like those that are damaged or have weak spots in their foundations.
Remember – an earthquake is only temporary
Most earthquakes occur over a period of seconds or minutes. Aftershocks may last for hours, days, months, or years. But they are not harmful. You don’t have to be afraid of aftershocks. They are usually not strong enough to cause damage. The best thing to do during an earthquake is to stay as safe and secure as possible. Use the tips above to protect yourself from falling objects, electrical shocks, and falling buildings.
Be prepared for aftershocks
After an earthquake, you’re likely to feel many aftershocks. These are normal and not harmful. They’re most likely to occur within a few days of the main earthquake. If you’re in an area that experiences a lot of aftershocks, it’s important to be prepared.
Aftershocks may cause damaged infrastructure like damaged bridges, roads, buildings, or power lines. Keep yourself safe by avoiding potential dangers, like weakened or damaged buildings, gas lines, and electrical wires. You can also use the tips above to protect yourself from these dangers.