Washington D.C. awoke to an earthquake this morning around 5:00AM. Luckily it was small as earthquakes go, only 3.6 in magnitude. It should serve as a little reminder to us that the planet we live on is in a state of constant flux. Preparing for natural disasters should make sense to everyone, just like having car insurance does. I don’t drive my car around with the fear I’m going to be in an accident, but if I am in an accident, I know I have insurance to cover the damages. The same should holds true for disasters, being prepared is like having your own personal insurance policy.
So how can you prepare for an earthquake? The Red Cross provides a few basic tips for us:
- Become aware of fire evacuation and earthquake plans for all of the buildings you occupy regularly.
- Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
- Practice drop, cover and hold on in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
- Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
- Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
- Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
- Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
- Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
- Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
- Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy to access location.
Additionally, always have a fire extinguisher in your home and ensure everyone in the family knows how to operate it.