HOME EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION
The key to surviving any
disaster situation is planning. To survive an earthquake
several factors must be considered. The time of day,
location of family members at the time, the type of
structure you are in and the utilities that supply that
structure. Every plan should include escape routes at home
and work, a reunification site and a telephone contact for
communication. Discuss plans with all household members.
Teenagers and adult members of the household should share in
the actual preparation decisions. Be sure to consider any
special needs or disabilities of family members and unique
natural or man-made hazards near your home. Make sure
everyone in your household knows where the closest fire
station, hospital, and police station are.
case of fire, have escape routes planned for each part of
your home or work place. It is important that every member
of your household know the quickest and safest escape routes
from each room, and all the possible hazards that could be
in their path.
decide together where you will meet if a major quake hits
when the family is separated. Have plans for each member of
the family to reach the safe refuge area. Make sure you have
adequate emergency supplies in the car as well as at the
This reunification site is also where
the family can gather if the earthquake has damaged your
home. At this site the family can evaluate the situation,
make plans for appropriate actions, and be safe from injury
due to aftershocks. It should be near your home, in the
open, and away from any hazards, especially overhead hazards
that can fall and injure family members. A safe refuge could
be your backyard or front yard, a nearby park, a parking
lot, or even the sidewalk.
There may be no means of
transportation except by foot if there is severe damage to
the roadways. It may take days for some family members to
reunite. It will be easier to deal with the stress of this
separation if the household has considered the possibilities
beforehand. Try to have every member of your family prepared
to deal appropriately with any emergency, and then trust
their good sense and knowledge to help them through.
extremely important that you do not use your telephone
indiscriminately after an earthquake, but check them to make
sure that the receiver has not been shaken off the hook. The
telephone should only be used for emergency calls.
You should have a telephone contact
who lives out of the area, preferably out of the state.
Separated family members can use this contact to find out if
everyone in the family is OK, to relay messages, and to set
up an alternative meeting place. Family members not living
in the area can call this contact to find out if everything
Remember, after an earthquake,
check all your phones to be sure that they have not shaken
off the hook and are tying up a line.
a flashlight and a pair of shoes under everyone's bed. A
major quake will probably disrupt electrical service and if
it happens at night you will need a flashlight to see. No
one wants to cut their feet on broken glass or fallen
objects walking to the closet to get a pair of shoes, so
place them, with the flashlight, in a plastic bag. Then tie
the bag to the leg of the bed. That way the bag will stay
with the bed and glass will not fall into the shoes as the
where the utility shutoffs are. Locate your gas, electrical,
and water shutoff, and know how to operate them. It is
recommended that the shutoffs be painted white or a light
reflective color so they are highly visible in dark or smoky
conditions. Have a wrench next to your gas shutoff.
all the preparation is done, practice your plan to see if it
actually works. Make it fun but try to make it real.
Practice is especially meaningful if it is done at night,
when it is dark, with all the electricity off.
a 72 hour supply kit should be part of your planning
efforts. Put together a basic kit for your home, for your
car, and one for work. The home kit should provide the basic
equipment and provisions needed by the family for at least a
72 hours period after a quake. The car and work place kits
should have enough supplies to last until you can get to the
The container should be large
enough to hold all the supplies but small enough to handle
without difficulty. A day pack or small duffel bag works
well for the car or work place, a plastic garbage can is
suggested for the home. In the appendix of this book there
is a suggested list of supplies for your home, car, and work
family wood frame buildings are the most earthquake
resistant of any type of construction. The building moves
with the quake. The key to riding out a quake is to make
sure your home behaves as one continuous unit. The following
measures should be taken to help protect your home.
- Your home should be bolted to
the foundation. The foundation's condition should be
checked to see if it is still in good shape, especially
in older homes. Houses built before 1940 were not
required to have sill-bolting, and some houses built
since then do not have them. Standard sill bolts, 5/8"
by 8 1/2", should be installed every 4 feet if you do
not have them now.
- If your house has a crawl
space between the ground and the first floor, check to
see if you have cripple walls. Plywood shear paneling
used to cover the entire wall area will stiffen these
walls. In the Loma Prieta quake several houses that were
bolted to their foundations partially collapsed because
they had no cripple wall shear support.
- If your home was built before
1960 your chimney may not be properly reinforced and
tied into the building. Damaged or falling chimneys was
one of the biggest hazards in the Loma Prieta quake.
SURVEY OF YOUR HOME.....Look
at each room in your home with "Earthquake Eyes". Take some
time and sit in each room and think "If a major quake hit
right now what would injure me". Then fix the hazard. To
prevent injury and reduce damage, each room of your home
should be carefully examined for potential hazards. The
following are some suggestions to correct these hazards. Use
them as a starting point in the examination of your home.
An unprepared kitchen is probably the most hazardous room in
the house. Shattered glass, spilled chemicals, gas fed
fires, and falling objects are all potential disasters in an
Read the labels on all household
chemicals. Segregate chemicals according to manufactures'
suggestions. In the kitchen, all chemicals should be stored
at floor level in a secure cabinet.
All gas appliances must be
installed with a flexible gas line.
Install latches on all kitchen
cabinet doors. "Child proof" latches are inexpensive and are
not visible from the exterior. These latches will prevent
breakables and heavy objects from falling out of the
cabinets. Store the heaviest items on the lower shelves. If
they happen to break through the latches, they will not
Put guard rails on open shelves so
that items cannot slide off. To display fragile objects on
open shelves use industrial strength "Velcro" tape or a
silicon adhesive on the bottom. Attach hanging plants,
clocks, paintings, and kitchen pots to a wall stud. Heavy
appliances on wheels should be blocked with a door stop, or
their wheels should be locked to prevent them from rolling.
You probably spend more time in this room than in any other
in the house. When examining the hazards in this room, pay
careful attention to objects that could fall and injure you
in bed or fall and block your escape routes.
Beds should not be placed under a
window. Falling glass is one of the major causes of injury
in an earthquake. Beds should be located by an interior wall
away from windows or anything that could fall on them.
Pictures, mirrors, or other heavy objects mounted on the
wall above the bed should be removed. If beds with wheels
are on bare floors, these wheels should be locked, or
non-skid coasters should be placed under the wheels.
Attach tall furniture to wall studs
to prevent it from falling over and blocking escape routes.
Remove heavy objects from the upper shelves of bookcases,
closets, or the tops of dressers. Place all heavy objects on
the floor or low shelves.
Each bedroom of your house should
have a flashlight and a pair of shoes in a plastic bag tied
to the leg of the bed; the flashlight to see at night and
the shoes to protect feet from broken glass.
Broken glass is the greatest potential hazard in the
bathroom. Mirrors, shower doors, and toiletries can all fall
and break. This makes the bathroom, although probably the
smallest, potentially the most dangerous room in the house.
Medicine cabinet doors should be
equipped with a "child-proof" latch to prevent things from
falling out. Glass containers should not be stored on open
shelves. Read the labels on cleaning supplies, segregate
them according to the manufacture's directions, and store
them at floor level in a secure cabinet.
Living Areas of
the Home: All tall
furniture in the living room, dining room, or den should be
secured to the wall studs. TVs, computers, and stereos
should be secured to shelving with industrial strength
"Velcro" to prevent falling. Paintings and mirrors should be
attached using security hangers or anti-theft hangers.
Velcro in the bottom corners also prevents them from moving
during a quake.
and Laundry Room: The
water heater should be securely double strapped to the studs
in the wall behind it; one strap about 1/3 from the top and
the second strap about 1/3 from the bottom. Plumbers tape
and lag bolts should be used and are readily available at
any hardware store. The water heater should also be attached
to the gas supply by a flexible gas line with shutoff that
will move in the event of a quake.
Remove all heavy objects from upper
storage shelves especially around the car. All heavy objects
should be at floor level.
Hazardous materials should be
segregated and stored in well marked, unbreakable
containers. They should also be stored in a low cabinet with
an earthquake-proof latch. Dispose of any hazardous
materials that are no longer needed At a hazardous materials
collection facility in your area.
PREPAREDNESS CHECK LISTS
- Make a
Survey" your home and work place
- Plan escape
- Establish a
Telephone contact out of the area
- Store a
72-hour emergency supply kit
- Locate, mark,
and test the operation of utility shutoffs
- Have a
shutoff wrench next to the gas shutoff
- Flexible gas
lines on all appliances
- Segregate all
hazardous materials, and store in secure cabinet
- Remove heavy
objects from upper shelves
- Secure all
objects on walls
- Attach tall
furniture and bookcases to wall studs
latches on kitchen cabinets
- Water heater
strapped to wall studs
- Appliance and
bed wheels blocked
equipment and electronics secured
emergency supplies in car and at office
- Chimney well
- Cripple walls
WHAT TO DO WHEN
THE EARTH STARTS SHAKING
There is no one safe place to be
during an earthquake. The following are some recommended
actions. The specific actions that you take should be
adapted to your situation and location at the time of the
If you are inside a building when
an earthquake hits, stay there.
SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER...DUCK,
COVER, AND HOLD ON. Try to
get under something that will protect you from falling
debris such as a table or a desk and hold on to it. Stay
there until the shaking stops. Try to get at least 15 feet
away from any windows so you are not cut by flying glass.
Never run outside during a quake. Most people are injured by
falling debris. Running outside just increases your chances
of being injured. If you are in a hallway or open area of a
building, sit down against a wall and cover your head and
neck with your hands. Remain there until the shaking stops.
If you are in an elevator, go to the closest floor and get
out. Sit down and cover your head and neck with your hands
and remain there until the shaking stops. NEVER TAKE
ELEVATORS AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE.
If you are outside when an
earthquake hits, stay there. Move away from buildings to an
open area, if one is readily available. Watch out for downed
If you are driving when an
earthquake hits put your emergency flashers on and slow to a
stop. Watch for traffic approaching from the rear while
doing this. Turn the ignition off and set the parking break.
Remain inside the car until the shaking stops. Do not stop
on overpasses, underpasses, or bridges, and be aware of
overhead hazards such as power lines or falling building
In the downtown area it is safer to
remain inside the buildings after an earthquake. Unless the
building has suffered structural damage or there is a fire,
chemical spill, or a gas leak, it is much safer to remain
inside. There are no open areas in downtown areas far enough
from glass or other falling debris to be considered safe
refuge sites. When windows in a high-rise building break,
the glass does not always fall straight down; it can catch a
wind current and sail great distances. Outside is no place
to be in the downtown area during or after an earthquake
because of falling objects. Aftershocks can cause additional
damage, and more glass and debris can fall.
plan must consider many possibilities. Will family members
at work go home, or, will you meet some other place? Who
will pick up the children at school? What if a family member
is out of the area when the quake hits? What if the home is
structurally damaged and uninhabitable? Your plan should
answer all your questions.