HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN EARTHQUAKE
Earthquakes can cause a mild to violent shock and can occur anytime, anywhere. This guide can help you protect your family, your property and yourself before, during and after an earthquake.
KNOW YOUR RISK
WHAT: An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock as it releases strain that has accumulated over a long time. Initial mild shaking may strengthen and become extremely violent within seconds. Additional earthquakes, called aftershocks, may occur for hours, days, or even months. Most are smaller than the initial earthquake but larger magnitude after shocks also occur.
WHEN: Earthquakes can happen at any time of the year and occur without warning.
WHERE: All the Mexican Republic is at some risk for earthquakes. The risk is higher in identified seismic zones.
IMPACT: Larger earthquakes may cause deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Most casualties and injuries during an earthquake occur when: people fall while trying to walk or run during the shaking; when they are hit by falling, flying, or sliding household items or non-structural debris; and/or when they are struck or trapped by collapsing walls or other parts of the building. Transportation, power, water, gas, and other services may be disrupted. In some areas, shaking can cause liquefaction— when the ground acts more like a liquid. When this happens the ground can no longer support the weight of a building. In coastal areas, earthquakes under the sea floor can cause tsunamis.
1. BEFORE: PREPARE
2. DURING: SURVIVE
3. AFTER: RECOVER
Although there is no advance notice of an earthquake, emergency information will be provided immediately after through radio and TV broadcasts and via Wireless Emergency Alerts texted to cell phones. In addition to commercial radios, there are government and official offices which provide live status through Twitter and Facebook accounts (e.g. @SPCCDMX, @SegobCDMX), as well as smartphones apps like “SkyAlert” that notifies you depending of the situation.
DEVELOP A COMMUNICATIONS PLAN
Your family may not be together when an earthquake hits, so it is important to know how you will contact one another and how you will get back together in case of an emergency. Landline and cellular phone systems are often overwhelmed following a disaster, so you may need to use text messaging or social media to communicate with family and friends. Keep important numbers written down in your wallet in case you cannot access the contact list in your phone.
Protect yourself Before an Earthquake
To prevent potential injuries, take the time to secure your space. Secure items that might fall, fly, or slide in an earthquake. Imagine if the room was picked up and shaken up and down and side to side and then determine what items would be thrown around. Periodically review the locations where you spend time—your home, workplace, or school—to look for potential hazards and secure them.
Cabinet doors can fly open allowing contents to crash to the floor; secure them with latches.
Objects such as framed photos, books, lamps, and other items that you keep on shelves and tables can become flying hazards. Secure them with hooks, adhesives, or earthquake putty to keep them in place. Move heavy or breakable items to lower shelves.
Mirrors, pictures frames, and other hanging items should be secured to the wall with closed hooks or earthquake putty. Do not hang heavy objects over beds, sofas, or any place you may be seated.
Electronics such as computers, televisions, and microwave ovens are heavy and expensive to replace. Secure them with flexible nylon straps.
Bookcases, filing cabinets, china cabinets, and other tall furniture should be anchored to wall studs, (not drywall), or masonry. Use flexible straps that allow them to sway without falling to the floor.
Secure your water heater, refrigerator, and other major appliances with the appropriate straps screwed into the wall studs or masonry to help keep them from falling over and rupturing gas or electric connections. Gas appliances should have flexible connectors to absorb the shaking while reducing the risk of fire.
ASSEMBLING EMERGENCY SUPPLIES
Take the time now to collect the emergency supplies you would need if the power was out, water supplies were cut off, and grocery stores were not open. You can build your supplies over time by adding a few items as your budget permits. Basic emergency supplies should include the following, most of which you probably already have in your home.
WATER – Ensure you have at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days. (Store a longer than 3-day supply of water, if possible). An average person needs to drink about 3/4 of a gallon of fluid daily. Individual needs vary depending on age, gender, health, level of activity, food choices, and climate. You may also need stored water for food preparation.
FOOD – Store at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food for members of your household, including pets. Consider special dietary needs (e.g., infant formula). Include a non-electric can opener for canned food.
FLASHLIGHT, RADIO, and CELL PHONE CHARGER – You will need to be able to charge these items without electricity. Your flashlight and radio should be either hand-cranked or battery-powered, and stored with extra batteries. Your cell phone charger should be hand-crank, solar, or able to be charged from a car outlet.
MEDICAL – Include first aid kit, prescription and non-prescription/over-the-counter medications, and medical supplies.
SANITATION – Pack supplies for sanitation, such as hand sanitizer, towelettes, paper products, and plastic bags, for use when water resources are limited.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY – Include battery backup power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen, and other assistive technology needs.
CLOTHING AND BLANKETS – Ensure you have clothing with long sleeves and long pants, thick-soled shoes, and work gloves to protect yourself after the earthquake, and a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person, if you live in a cold-weather climate.
WHISTLE – Include a whistle to signal for help.
CASH – Store cash in case ATMs are not functioning after the earthquake.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER – Earthquakes can cause fires to break out; have a fire extinguisher so you can put out any small fires. Use a fire extinguisher only if you are physically capable
Consider storing supplies in several locations if possible. This means having basic supplies of food and water in locations, including your workplace, your vehicle, and, if possible, other places you and members of your household regularly spend time (e.g., house of worship, community center, and school). It is important to consider the unique needs of your family, including access and functional needs, and the needs of children and pets. You may need to include: extra water; special food, such as infant formula or pet food; and supplies or equipment, such as diapers, glasses, or medical equipment.
Protect yourself During an Earthquake
DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON
During an earthquake, minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place. If you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure it is safe to exit.
DROP to your hands and knees.
COVER your head and neck with your arms. This position protects you from falling and provides some protection for vital organs. Because moving can put you in danger from the debris in your path, only move if you need to get away from the danger of falling objects. If you can move safely, crawl for additional cover under a sturdy desk or table. If there is low furniture, or an interior wall or corner nearby and the path is clear, these may also provide some additional cover. Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
HOLD ON to any sturdy shelter until the shaking stops.
DO NOT run outside! STAY where you are until the shaking stops. DO NOT get in a doorway as this does not provide protection from falling or flying objects and you likely will not be able to remain standing.
If you can, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once in the open, Drop, Cover, and Hold On. STAY THERE until the shaking stops. This might not be possible in a city, so you may need to duck inside a building to avoid falling debris.
If you are in bed: STAY there and COVER your head and neck with a pillow. At night, hazards and debris are difficult to see and avoid; attempts to move in the dark result in more injuries than remaining in bed.
It is difficult to control a vehicle during the shaking so stop as quickly and safely as possible, and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires. Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that the earthquake may have damaged.
Protect yourself After an Earthquake
Once the shaking has stopped, wait a minute before getting up and then look around for debris or other dangers. If you are able to safely move to exit the building and there is an open space to go to, exit the building and avoid damaged areas and downed power lines. For buildings in metropolitan areas that do not have nearby open space, it may be safer to remain in the building until you are certain you will avoid additional glass and debris that may fall from nearby buildings. Remember aftershocks may cause further damage to weakened structures and present hazards to those exiting buildings.
Monitor local news reports (battery-operated radio, TV, and cell phone text alerts) for emergency information and instructions.
If you are in a damaged building and there is a safe way out through the debris, leave and go to an open space outside. If you can do so safely, take a moment to take what you might need immediately and can carry easily, such as a purse or go bag. Once outside, do not re-enter until the building is certified to be safe.
Check for injuries and provide assistance if you have training. Assist with rescues if you can do this safely.
If you are near the coast, learn the tsunami risk for your area. If you are in an area that may experience tsunamis, when the shaking stops, walk inland or to higher ground immediately. Monitor official reports for more information on the area’s tsunami evacuation plans.
If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust. Use your cell phone to call or text for help. Tap on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle, if available, so rescuers can locate you.
Stay away from damaged areas. Never use a lighter or matches near damaged areas. Check for and extinguish small fires.
Have your utilities inspected by qualified professionals for damage to electrical system, sewage, gas, and water lines.
If your home has been damaged and is no longer safe, and you need a place to stay, text SHELTER + your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest public shelter in your area. A sample text would be SHELTER 12345. Follow local media for information on shelters.
Protect yourself After an Earthquake
Earthquakes can destroy or make buildings and roads unsafe.
Use extreme caution around debris. Do not attempt to remove heavy debris by yourself and assist with rescues only if you can do so safely.
Wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shrit, long pants, work gloves, and sturdy, thick- soled shoes durin clean-up. These will protect you from further injury from broken glass, exposed nails, or other objects.
Do no touch electrical equipment if it is wet or you are standing in water.
If you smell gas, call the emergency services.
Photograph or take video of damage to your property to assist with filing an insurance claim.
Know that wis will be an emotional time and it is normal to feel a little blue. Seek help for yourself or others if depression or anxiety persists or seems out of proportion for the circumstances.
Expect aftershocks. There additional earthquakes are usually less violent than the main quake, but can be strong enough to further damage weakened structures. They can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake. Be ready to protect yourself.