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Preparing Your Home for Extreme Conditions: Earthquakes

There are many types of severe conditions in the United States that may pose serious threat to your home. To make sure you are ready for anything that may come your way, take a look at our Checklist for Preparing Your Home for Extreme Weather that includes a list of things to keep on hand, packed up and ready at all times for any natural disaster situation. Earthquakes - while not weather - can cause devastating damage to your home and it’s important to know what to do in case one happens in your area. Here is what you should know about them and how you can prepare for them.

Prepare home for an earthquake.

About Earthquakes

An Earthquake is a ground shaking or rolling event caused by movement under the Earth’s surface on a faultline. According to the USGS, it is estimated that there are 500,000 detectable earthquakes in the world each year. 100,000 of those can be felt, and 100 of them cause damage. The southern California area alone has about 10,000 earthquakes each year, most of which can not be felt.

Alaska registers the most earthquakes per year, followed by Oklahoma and California, which has the most damaging earthquakes. Florida and North Dakota have the smallest number of earthquakes in the United States. Earthquakes can happen anywhere, anytime and no correlation to weather has been found. [USGS]

An earthquake’s greatest risk is the damage to manmade and natural structures and the contents inside that may fall, which may injure or kill people.

How to Prepare for an Earthquake

Earthquakes are impossible to predict, and because of this, there aren’t advisories, watches or warnings. The best thing to do to be ready for an earthquake is to prepare ahead of time by having supplies available and a plan in place. Hold frequent drills and make sure your whole family understands the procedures.

Drop, cover and hold under safe shelter in an earthquake.

  • Declare safe zones — know safe places in your home to go to in case you begin to feel the ground shake. You can go under a table or strong surface for maximum protection, or against an inside wall. Drop, cover and hold onto your shelter until the shaking stops.
  • Secure heavy objects including shelves and breakable or hazardous items. Put photos and mirrors on closed hooks, and place heavy items on lower shelves if possible. Make sure your gas appliances, water heater, and furnace are bolted securely to the floor.
  • Anchor your home — make sure your house is anchored to the foundation.
  • Avoid windows and going outside.
  • The most dangerous places to be are mobile homes, homes on hills, and homes on unstable soils.
  • Learn how to turn off utilities so you know how in case of emergency.

After an Earthquake

There are many dangerous situations that follow an earthquake. Be prepared for aftershocks, landslides, tsunamis, fires, floods and gas leaks. If you can, stay inside. If it’s unsafe to stay inside, use your evacuation route and meet at your agreed upon safe place in case you get separated. Call your out of town contact for accountability. Take your emergency bag and don’t use bridges, overpasses or elevators.

If you are trapped, knock, scream, whistle, make noise and do whatever you can to be found.

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