Monday, March 15, 2010

Too Many Earthquakes?

I’m a little worried about all these earthquakes that have been happening. I live in a low risk area but it wouldn’t hurt to be a little prepared just in case. There have been at least 3 major earthquakes in the last few months: Haiti, Chile, and Turkey, and many other small ones. They have caused such tragedy and human suffering.

We have had around 40 quakes this year so far. According to the US Geological Survey, the yearly average of 6.0 to 6.9 magnitude earthquakes is 134. Although scientists say it is just coincidence, it is frightening. Earthquakes cannot be predicted but probabilities for future earthquakes can calculated. The USGS has maps showing the probability of earthquakes occurring in certain areas of the world. They use this information to plan land use and prepare for earthquakes.

So, how do you prepare for a possible earthquake? Plan and secure your home. Fix inadequate foundations and broken pipes. Know how to turn off the gas and water in your house. Pictures, shelves, and other items should be securely attached to your walls. Identify things that might fall on you like bookcases and heavy televisions during an earthquake so you know to avoid them. Plan a place to meet after an earthquake. Stockpile a fire extinguisher, wrenches to turn off water and gas, extra medications, first aid kit, water for two weeks, water purification tablets, flashlight, radio, and extra batteries, canned and packaged food, a mechanical can opener, camp stove or grill, and heavy plastic bags.

When an earthquake occurs: Stay inside if you are already in but get away from the kitchen and windows and appliances. Hold on to some heavy furniture or the walls in a hallway and protect your head and neck. If you are outside, get out in the open away from trees and power lines and things that might fall on you. If you are driving, stop carefully and move out of traffic.
After an earthquake, wear sturdy shoes, check for injuries and apply first aid. Look for hazards like fires and gas leaks and call for help. Put fires out and turn off gas, water, and power lines only if you know what you are doing. Do not touch power lines. Clean up spills.

So, remember to drop, cover, and hold on during an earthquake! Drop to the ground, take cover, and hold on until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck. You are most likely to be injured by falling or flying objects. Be prepared and be safe.

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