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Diaster Preparation and Cleanup - Earthquakes - Free Resources

EarthQuakes and Your Family:

The First Steps to Take!

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arthquakes are the shaking, rolling or sudden shock of the earth's surface. Earthquakes happen along "fault lines" in the earth's crust. Earthquakes can be felt over large areas although they usually last less than one minute. Earthquakes cannot be predicted -- although scientists are working on it!

Most of the time, you will notice an earthquake by the gentle shaking of the ground. You may notice hanging plants swaying or objects wobbling on shelves. Sometimes you may hear a low rumbling noise or feel a sharp jolt. A survivor of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco said the sensation was like riding a bicycle down a long flight of stairs.

he intensity of an earthquake can be measured. One measurement is called the Richter scale. Earthquakes below 4.0 on the Richter scale usually do not cause damage, and earthquakes below 2.0 usually can't be felt. Earthquakes over 5.0 on the scale can cause damage. A magnitude 6.0 earthquake is considered strong and a magnitude 7.0 is a major earthquake. The Northridge Earthquake, which hit Southern California in 1994, was magnitude 6.7.

Earthquakes are sometimes called temblors, quakes, shakers or seismic activity. The most important thing to remember during an earthquake is to DROP and COVER. Drop and cover means to DROP to the floor and get under something for COVER

Tips in an Earthquake

  • If you are indoors during an earthquake, keep calm and take cover under a heavy table or desk. Stay away from glass, windows or anything that could fall, like a bookcase.
  • If you are outdoors, move away from buildings, street lights and utility wires.
  • If you are in a crowded public place, do NOT rush for the doors. Everyone will be doing that. Instead, take cover under something heavy and stay away from things that could fall on you. Stay calm. Do not get in an elevator during an earthquake!
  • After an earthquake, be prepared for after shocks. After shocks are follow-up earthquakes that are usually smaller than the first one. They are dangerous because they can cause things that are weakened in the first earthquake to fall down.
  • If you are home and you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and get out of the building right away. It may mean that a gas line in your house has been broken.
  • Make sure you are wearing shoes after an earthquake. There may be broken glass on the ground and inside your home.
  • If you are scared, remember earthquakes can be scary, but they only last a few seconds.


Earthquakes: Home Hazards Hunt

  • China cabinet (Should be attached to wall studs)
  • Tall knickknack shelves (Should be attached to wall studs)
  • Bookshelves (Should be attached to wall studs)
  • Heavy hanging plant over a place where people sit (should be light, unbreakable pot and make sure all plants hang from ceiling studs)
  • A mirror on the wall (Make sure it is well fastened to the wall)
  • Heavy objects on wall shelves (should be moved to bottom shelves or secured)
  • Unsecured TV on a rolling cart (Make sure cart wheels are blocked so TV can't roll)
  • Bed by a big window (Bed should be moved away)
  • Heavy picture above a bed (Bed or picture should be moved)
  • A hanging light above a bed (Light should be secured with extra wire or chain, or the bed should be moved.)
  • Cabinet doors not fastened to stay closed (Install latches)
  • Unattached water heater (Attach water heater to the wall studs)
  • Gas stove with rigid feed line (Replace gas line with flexible connectors)
  • Heavy wall clock (Attach to wall studs)
  • Chimney (Brace outside chimney to the house)
  • House not bolted to the foundation. (Foundation should be bolted)

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