Earthquakes, usually happen at the most inconvenient times. For most of the population, this causes panic and uncertainty, at the very least it will send stress levels skyrocketing through the roof. As preppers, we do what we can to anticipate disasters and prepare for them. Most of these preparations will apply to a full range of scenarios, but all emergencies have their own response peculiarities. Planning for these unique aspects will go a long way to help your family survive a serious earthquake and its aftermath.
In this, the second installment of US Preppers two-part earthquake series, we will outline how to plan for these particular problems associated with quakes, how to respond when the earth begins to move and what to do once the shaking stops.
Make Your Plans
Just as you would with any other emergency or disaster prepare yourself with the universal stores of emergency essentials for either sheltering in place or bugging out. That means stockpile enough food (dry goods, freeze-dried meals) and water to last a week (72 hours minimum). Beyond the general plans applicable to numerous emergencies, there are some specific amendments to add;
The power grid is usually the first to go during decent sized quake. Plan ahead and invest in an appropriate generator. Alternatively, install solar panels or a wind turbine (depending on where you live) to supply power and store it in a battery bank. If neither of those options work then stockpile batteries, flashlight, and battery-powered lanterns. Avoid using candles due to the risk of gas leaks.
Water is used for more than drinking and washing. It also washes away our wastes. When the water mains break, the toilets don’t flush but people don’t stop needing to go number two. One solution is to line the toilet bowl with a garbage bag not unlike lining a kitchen garbage bin. Use normally and remove when needed.
While an earthquake generally leans toward sheltering in place there are situations that could shift it to a bug out scenario. 1) Home may be rendered unlivable after all the shaking 2) Gas leaks are notorious results of quakes and could make whole neighborhoods unsafe until repairs are made. 3) Fire is always a threat in the aftermath of a quake. They spread quickly and go uncontrolled due to compromised water supply lines. 4) After the 2008 Indonesian earthquake, concerns about a tsunami run high along coastal quake zones.
An offshore quake over 7.5 might trigger a tsunami. Find out if you live within an inundation area (maps available on state government websites) and if you need to evacuate make sure your planned bug-out location is outside the flood zones. Familiarize yourself with posted tsunami evacuation routes. Also have a Plan B in case your primary destination is damaged.
Family Quake Drills:
Identify safe locations around your home to ride out the quake and hold family practice drills at least twice a year.
When the Shaking Starts
How you and your family react to an earthquake is as important as the planning and exercising before it strikes. A great many ears have been filled with advice for where to run, where to stay and what to hide under. From diving under tables to standing under door frames to the “triangle of life”, not every piece of advice is equal. First things first, the triangle of life theory sounded logical when it garnered attention but since then it has been resoundingly discredited as it was based on questionable evidence. According to experts, experience from official rescue teams and based on universally accepted research, the best reaction to an earthquake is to;
1) DROP: Before the quake knocks you down, drop to hands and knees. Doing so protects you from being thrown about or knocked down which could cause injury.
2) COVER: Get under the cover of a sturdy table or desk to protect, at a minimum, your head, and neck. If there is no shelter then drop and cover your head and neck with hands and arms next to an interior wall or low furniture that is less likely to tip over on you. Research has also shown people moving as little as only 10 feet amidst a quake are more likely to sustain injury.
3) HOLD ON: Grab a hold of that table leg for your life and ride out the shaking. Be prepared to move with the shelter if it begins shifting around.
If you are indoors, do not run outside. If you are outside when an earthquake hits, move away from buildings, power lines, streetlight poles and trees. Falling brick work, roofing materials, electrical power lines and trees can fall causing serious injury. Drop and cover your neck and head.
After the Shaking
Once the shaking stops take stock of family members and the immediate condition of your surroundings. If you are in a tsunami inundation zone, move to higher ground, listening for sirens or other evacuation warnings. You may have to go on foot as roadways and bridges may be unsafe. Should you be unable to reach higher ground try to reach, at a minimum, the 3rd story of a sturdy building. This is the last resort option since your first priority is to get out of the danger zone. Once you are free and clear of the coastal danger areas, do not return until official give the all clear.
If tsunamis are not a concern, begin with a cursory check of your home for fires, gas leaks, immediate structural damage and compromised electrical and water lines. Shut off any utilities if you find damage or leaks. Tend to any family first aid needs. If your home is unsafe evacuate the premises and seek shelter at a friend’s or extended family’s home. You can also text SHELTER plus your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) for the location of the nearest shelter. Check with local emergency management or the Red Cross for space and availability. Stay informed about recovery efforts and resources you may need on a battery-powered radio listening for any on-air stations or NOAA Weather Radio for public service announcements.
- Remember aftershocks can strike at any time after the initial quake.
- Remain vigilant.
- Stay calm.
- Respect others who are trying keep their families safe.