FEMA Asks: Are you earthquake prepared?


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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials are urging residents to become 'Earthquake Prepared' by exercising a few safety measures to help prepare themselves for earthquakes and hazards of all type.

"Recent earthquakes abroad, show the magnitude of devastation and destruction an earthquake can cause," said Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's Caribbean Area Division Director. "These events serve as a reminder that it is important to be ready for all hazards, including earthquakes, which can occur at any moment, day or night. Unlike hurricanes and tornadoes, earthquakes occur without warning, and once they do, it's too late to prepare for them. Taking simple steps, such as reviewing earthquake safety tips and updating your home emergency plan, can be life-saving", he added.

Years of experience have shown that ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death and injury. In fact, most earthquake-related injuries result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects as a result of the ground shaking, or people trying to move more than a few feet during the shaking. Individuals can prevent injuries and protect their property by taking the following important steps:

Before an earthquake occurs:

Create a personal or family earthquake plan and practice it. Identify things that you could not do without for 72 hours or more.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit - The following items are recommended for inclusion in your basic disaster supplies kit:

Three-day supply of non-perishable food

Three-day supply of water - one gallon of water per person, per day

Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit and manual

Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper)

Matches and waterproof container


Extra clothing

Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener

Photocopies of credit and identification cards

Cash and coins

Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries

Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers

Copies of important documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property records, and other important papers

Other items to meet your unique family needs

Bolt bookcases, china cabinets, and other tall furniture to wall studs. Brace or anchor high or top-heavy objects. During an earthquake, these things can fall over, causing damage or injury.

Secure items that might fall, such as televisions, bookcases and computers. Falling items can be a major cause of damage or injury in a quake; install strong latches or bolts on cabinet doors to prevent the contents from flying out during the quake.

Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches, on bottom shelves.

Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit. Earthquakes frequently knock things off walls, causing damage or injury.

Strap the water heater to wall studs. The water heater may be your best source of drinkable water following an earthquake. Protect it from damage and leaks.

Bolt down any gas appliances. After an earthquake, broken gas lines frequently create fire hazards.

Install flexible pipefittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings will be less likely to break.

Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects. Earthquakes can turn cracks into ruptures and make small problems bigger.

Check to see if your house is bolted to its foundation. Homes bolted to their foundations are less likely to be severely damaged during an earthquake. Homes that are not bolted have been known to slide off their foundations, and many have been destroyed because they were uninhabitable.

Consider having your building evaluated by a professional structural design engineer who can give you advice on how to reduce potential damage. Ask for strengthening tips for porches, front and back decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.

Consider buying earthquake insurance. Ask your insurance agent about adding earthquake coverage to your current policy.

When an earthquake hits, what to do if you're indoors:

DROP to the ground;

Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk, table or other piece of furniture. If there is none around to get under, get down near an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands; and HOLD ON to the furniture or to your head and neck until the shaking stops.

Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall.

Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.

Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

When an earthquake hits, what to do if you're outdoors:

Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.

Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.

For more information on earthquake safety, including what to do before, during, and after an earthquake and how to check for earthquake hazards in your home visit www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/ .

How to improvise a survival shelter in less than ten minutes.

Source: FEMA

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