Washington, especially the Puget Sound basin, has a history of frequent earthquakes. More than 1,000 earthquakes occur in the state each year. A dozen or more are strong enough that people feel ground shaking. The state experienced at least 20 damaging earthquake events in the last 125 years.
What You Can Do to Prepare
The Earthquake Country Alliance recommends taking these four steps to be prepared in the event of an earthquake:
Step 1: Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items.
Step 2: Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency.
Step 3: Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations.
Step 4: Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance.
During an Earthquake
When an earthquake strikes, most injuries occur from falling or flying objects. The best way to protect yourself is to follow the steps of Drop, Cover, and Hold on!
Drop: Get down on to your hands and knees. This lowers your center of gravity and makes it much harder for the earthquake shaking to knock you over. It also makes you smaller, so you’re less likely to be hit by falling debris. If you need to move to a safer location, stay low, and crawl on your hands and knees.
Cover: Take Cover under something sturdy, like a desk or table if one is available. Cover your head and neck with one hand. If something like a hardcover book is nearby, you can also cover your head and neck with that.
Hold On: Hold on in that position, and hold on to your cover, so it doesn’t shake away from you. Earthquake shaking may last from seconds, to several minutes for the largest earthquakes. Make sure you’re protecting yourself the whole time.
What you will specifically do depends on where you are and what you’re doing but these general guidelines of Drop, Cover, and Hold on can really help.
After an Earthquake
Wear Study Shoes
To avoid injury from broken glass and debris. Expect aftershocks
Check for Injuries
If a person is bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound, use clean gauze or cloth if available
If a person is not breathing administer CPR
DO NOT attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in further danger of injury
COVER injured persons with blankets to keep warm
SEEK medical help for serious injuries
Check for Hazards
Fire hazards--put out fires in your home or neighborhood immediately, call for help
Gas leaks--shut off main gas valve ONLY if you suspect a leak because of broken pipes or odor
Damaged electrical wiring--Shut off power at the control box if there is any danger to house wiring
Downed or damaged utility lines--do not touch downed power lines or any objects in contact with them
SPILLS--clean up any spilled medicines, drugs, or other harmful materials such as bleach, lye, gas
DOWNED OR DAMAGED CHIMNEYS--Approach with caution--don't use damaged chimney (it could start a fire or let poisonous gases into your house)
FALLEN ITEMS--beware of items tumbling off shelves when you open doors of closets and cupboards
CHECK FOOD AND WATER SUPPLIES--Do not eat or drink anything from open containers near shattered glass
If power is off, plan meals to use up foods that will spoil quickly or frozen foods (food in the freezer should be good for at least a couple of days)
Don't light your kitchen stove if you suspect a gas leak
USE BBQ or camp stoves, outdoors only for emergency cooking
If your water is off you can drink supplies from water heaters, melted ice cubes or canned vegetables (AVOID drinking water from swimming pools or especially spas--it may have too many chemicals in it to be safe)
For more information visit SHAKEOUT.ORG