If an earthquake had just happened, there can be serious hazards such as damage to the building, leaking gas and water lines, or downed power lines, not to mention items that may have fallen around you. People may have been hurt and you need to be composed and know how to handle yourself when you have had a moderate to severe earthquake.
Look around to be sure it is safe to move. If you are trapped, protect your mouth, nose and eyes from dust. Send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting so that rescuers can locate you.
Expect aftershocks to follow the main shock of an earthquake and if your building or dwelling has suffered damage, safely find your way outside, away from walls or chimneys that may still easily topple over.
Do not attempt to enter damaged buildings.
Check on the condition of your neighbors, especially those who are seniors or disabled. Help injured or trapped people, but do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of sustaining more injuries. Give first aid as appropriate.
Texting may be more dependable than making a phone call. Use the phone for Emergency only.
When possible, register on the Red Cross “Safe and Well” website so people will know you are okay: SafeAndWell.org. https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/
During the next few days after a moderate or severe earthquake, there are some steps to take to protect yourself, your home and people around you.
Until you are sure there are no gas leaks, do not re-enter your home. Also, do not use open flames (lighters, matches, candles, or grills) or operate any electrical or mechanical device that can create a spark (light switches, generators, motor vehicles, etc.). Never use the following indoors: camp stoves, gas lanterns or heaters, gas or charcoal grills, or gas generators. These can release deadly carbon monoxide or be a fire hazard in aftershocks.
Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
Following each aftershock, continue to recheck for gas leaks, chemical spills, damaged electrical wiring and broken water pipes.
Take pictures of any damage to your property and home and record notes in a journal.
Contact your insurance agent or company right away to begin your claims process. Keep records of any repair or cleaning costs.
Listen to your local radio or television reports about where to get emergency housing, food, first aid, clothing and financial assistance. Pay attention to any safety advisories you may hear.
Update your friends and family outside the area and tell them your status, then stay off the phone. Emergency responders need to use the phone lines for lifesaving communications.
If power is off, plan meals to use up refrigerated and frozen foods first. If you keep the door closed, food in your freezer may be good for a couple of days. If your local market sells dry ice, this will help with your cold food supply. Save canned goods for later.
If your water is off or unsafe, you can drink from water heaters, melted ice cubes, or canned vegetables. Avoid drinking water from swimming pools or spas. Do not eat or drink anything from open containers that are near shattered glass.
Stay away from damaged areas, unless police, fire or relief organizations specifically request your assistance. Return home only when the authorities say it is safe.
Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate light outages. Watch for major cracks in the road and rock or mudslides. Do not attempt to cross. Drive with extreme caution!
Use precaution during post-disaster clean-up of buildings and around debris. Do not attempt to remove heavy debris by yourself. Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and sturdy, thick-soled shoes during clean-up. Be cautious when opening cabinets and beware of objects that could fall off shelves.
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from chemicals.
Inspect the length of your chimney for damage. Damage that is undetected could lead to a fire.
Continue to inspect and reinspect your utilities after aftershocks: check for gas leaks; look for electrical system damage; and check for sewage and water lines damage, especially if there are reoccurring aftershocks.
It’s quite possible that your home may have suffered some damage to deem it “unsafe” and could be “red tagged.” If this happens, then let a neighbor know and contact the post office to stop or reroute your mail to another address.
If you must leave your house, make certain you get everything you may need (that you can safety reach):
• First aid kits or your prepared earthquake safety items
• Medications and eyewear
• Phone charger and laptop if available
• Supply of water, food, and snacks
• Blanket/pillow/air mattress or sleeping pad
• Change of clothing and a jacket
• Towel and washcloth
• Any supplies for an infant, like diapers, formula, etc.
• A few family pictures or other comfort items (small valuables, i.e.: jewelry, in case of looters)
• Personal identification and copies of household and health insurance information