What to do during and after an earthquakes

If you reside in an earthquake-prone area, you can do a number of things around the house to lessen the possibility of injury during an earthquake.

Put secure latches on cabinets. Anchor any top-heavy furniture with L shaped brackets attached to wall studs and the top of the piece. Lock the rollers on the refrigerator. Stabilize a water heater by wrapping it with steel plumber’s tape and attaching the tape to wall studs. Install flexible connectors where gas lines meet appliances. Learn how to turn off the gas, electricity, and water where they enter the house.

Consider hiring an engineer to determine whether your home is solidly attached to its foundation, if its walls are sufficiently braced, and if the chimney is adequately reinforced.

Besides taking precautions in your house, find out what the emergency plans are in your place of work and, if you have children, the local schools.

To help in the aftermath of an earthquake, keep on hand a battery powered radio, a flashlight, fresh batteries, candles, fire extinguishers, a first-aid kit, a few days’ supply of canned foods, and a 5-gallon container of water for each family member.

During and after the quake

If you are indoors, move away from windows, ceiling fixtures, mirrors, and tall furniture. Stand at an inner wall or in a central doorway or get under a desk, bed, or table. Don’t head for the exits or elevators of a high-rise building. It’s better not to go outside.

If you’re outdoors, try to move away from power poles and other objects that might fall; if possible, get to an open area. If you’re in a car, pull over until the tremors stop.

When the quake is over, turn on the radio for instructions; use the telephone only for an emergency. If you smell gas, turn it off at the main valve; open windows and leave. If there is no incoming water and you have none stored, you can get emergency supplies from the water heater, toilet tanks, or canned fruits; boil doubtful water for 20 minutes before drinking or cooking with it. Don’t flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact. Stand to one side as you open any closets or cabinets. Check the house for structural damage.