Within the past week, several significant earthquakes remind us that quakes strike without notice:
- 4.4 earthquake near Westwood in LA
- 6.9 shaker that struck just off the coast in northern California
- 6.7-magnitude quake which shook Chile’s northern Pacific shore
- 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck in the sea, about 100 miles southwest of Hiroshima
In the event a noteworthy earthquake hits and emergency personnel are unable to immediately respond to you and your colleagues, employees, family and/or friends. In fact, where earthquakes are concerned in prone geographical locations, “it’s not if, but when.”
And since they happen without warning, well in advance, you have to identify the hazards around you. In other words, prepare!
Before a Quake: Evaluate your work and home environment and diligently strive to eliminate all potential hazards.
- Know your specific emergency plan and your role in it.
- Familiarize yourself with a primary and secondary escape routes.
- Make every effort to ensure your workplace is safe.
- Study what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
- Acquaint yourself with safe areas and stairwell exits
- Identify and practice moving to your closest safe, drop, cover and hold locations.
- Lower Heavy Objects
- Install Safety Latches on Cabinets
- Secure Tall Furniture
- Consider what you would do if an earthquake led to power outages, fires and water leaks.
- Maintain at least a three-day emergency supply kit at work, home and in your car.
- High-calorie, long-shelf life snack bars
- First Aid Kit, including prescriptions and glasses (and don’t forget medications for your pets)
- Solar blankets
- Sturdy tennis shoes
- Emergency out-of-state contact information (since family and friends in your location may also have experienced the quake and so could be unavailable)
- Hand-crank flashlight and radio (so you aren’t dependent on batteries)
- For a complete list of emergency supplies, check out subscriber information on the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services or Ready.Gov.
If a Quake Hits
- Stay calm and remember that life safety is always the first priority.
- Act quickly to protect yourself.
- If you’re in an elevator, sit on the floor, against the wall, and wait for the shaking to stop. In the event of an earthquake, the elevator should temporarily stop and then move to the nearest floor, where the doors will open.
- If you are inside a building, move away from windows, pictures, and glass partitions to keep yourself out of reach of flying glass.
- Drop to the ground and duck under a safe, sturdy desk, table or other sturdy object so you are safe from falling debris.
- Lean forward and cover the back of your head and neck.
- Hold on and be prepared to move along with the furniture, which could be jostled during the shaking.
- If you can’t find anything to quickly duck under, sit with your back against an interior wall.
- Stay put until you are certain the shaking has stopped.
- Since most people are killed and injured in earthquakes because they are hit with falling objects outside, DO NOT RUN OUTSIDE!
- If you are in a high-rise building, floor wardens will be surveying damage, setting up a triage area and collecting resources, listening to emergency radio reports for instructions and dealing with associated debris that could interfere with safe evacuation.
- Be aware that fires can break out as a result of an earthquake.
- Keep your eyes open for post-earthquake fires, water leaks and electrical shorts.
- Anticipate possible power outages.
- If you are outside when the quake hits, find a clear area away from anything that could potentially fall.
- If you’re outside, on a sidewalk—near buildings, duck into a doorway.
- If you’re driving, pull over and stop.
- When the shaking stops, be prepared for aftershocks, which are likely.
After the Earthquake
- Stay calm.
- If you are trapped in debris, tap on metal or anything that will attract search parties.
- Use a flashlight to signal rescuers. Shout only as a last resort.
- Quickly survey the area to make sure you are far away from major hazards.
- Listen to your emergency radio for relevant information.
- Use your cell phone for emergencies only.
- Be prepared to function in the dark, in the event power is lost.
- Avoid unnecessary movements, which could stir up dust and make breathing difficult.
- DO NOT USE AN OPEN FLAME (In other words—don’t smoke!)
- DO NOT turn on electrical switches, which could produce sparks and lead to a fire. This is particularly important if you smell gas.
- Do not move seriously injured people or provide medical care beyond your level of training, unless their location puts them in immediate danger. If possible, wait for emergency personnel to arrive on scene.
- Do not evacuate until the shaking stops and it is safe to do so.
- Widespread damage may make traveling more hazardous than sheltering in place.
- If you are unsure whether you should stay or go, wait to evacuate until you have been instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
- Once you are sure it is safe to evacuate or you have been told to do so by officials, remain calm; avoid elevators; and use handrails to guide you down stairwells.
- Before opening any doors, use the back of your hand to check for signs of fire-such as heat emanating from doors.
- Proceed to your designated safe area and check in.
- DO NOT attempt to reenter the building until officials tell you it is safe to do so by facility personnel or emergency responders.
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.