Earthquake Preparedness

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Earthquake Preparedness

How to prepare before an earthquake

  • Compile an emergency kit with food, water and supplies (such as a flashlight, portable battery operated radio, extra batteries, medicines, first aid kit, money and spare clothing).
  • Know the safe spots in each room – under sturdy tables, desks or against interior walls.
  • Know the danger spots in each room – near windows, mirror, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall, unsecured furniture.
  • Conduct practice drills so you and your family know the safest locations in your home.
  • Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated during a quake.
  • Choose an out-of-state friend or relative who family members can call after the quake to report their whereabouts and conditions.
  • Learn first aid and CPR.
  • Learn how to shut off gas, water and electricity in case the lines are damaged. (SAFETY NOTE: do not attempt to relight the gas pilot. Call Puget Sound Energy to assist you.)
  • Check chimneys, roofs, walls and foundations for stability.
  • Secure your water heater and major appliances, as well as tall/heavy furniture, hanging plants, mirrors and picture frames (especially those hanging over beds).
  • Keep breakables, heavy objects, flammable or hazardous liquids (paints, pest sprays and cleaning products) in secure cabinets or on lower shelves.
  • Organize your neighborhood to be self-sufficient after a quake.

What to do during an earthquake

  • If indoors, stay there. Get under a solid piece of furniture, or stand in the corner of two inside walls away from any windows or other hazards. Most injuries in earthquakes occur from falling debris, or from people running and subsequently falling.
  • If outdoors, get to an open area away from any trees, buildings, walls or power lines.
  • If in a high-rise or office building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Get under a table. Do not use the elevators.
  • If driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses and power lines. Stay inside your car until the shaking ceases.
  • If in a crowded public place, do not rush for the doors. Crouch, cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.

What to do after an earthquake

  1. Unless there is an immediate life-threatening emergency, do not attempt to use the telephone.
  2. Check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or damaged sewage lines. If there is any damage, turn the utility off at the source. Immediately report gas leaks to Puget Sound Energy. Check for downed power lines; warn others to stay away.
  3. Check your building for cracks and damage, including the roof, chimneys and foundation, if possible.
  4. Turn on a portable radio for instructions and news reports. For your own safety, cooperate with public safety officials and follow any instructions relayed to you.
  5. Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency; keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.
  6. Be prepared for aftershocks.
  7. Stay calm, and lend a hand to others.
  8. If you evacuate, leave a message at your home telling family members and others where you can be found.

More Earthquake Resources

Tips are courtesy of the Thurston County Development Services Earthquake Preparedness document. Also see the Department of Homeland Security's FEMA/earthquake website.