Earthquakes are sudden rolling or shaking events caused by movement under the earth’s surface. Earthquakes happen along cracks in the earth's surface, called fault lines, and can be felt over large areas, although they usually last less than one minute. Earthquakes cannot be predicted — although scientists are working on it!
Living in Southern California, it’s not a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when.”
What to Do Before an Earthquake
Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake.
Four Ways to Prepare:
Check for Hazards in the Home
· Fasten shelves securely to walls.
· Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
· Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
· Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
· Brace overhead light fixtures.
· Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.
· Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
· Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
· Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors
· Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
· Against an inside wall.
· Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
· In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.
Have Disaster Supplies on Hand
· Flashlight and extra batteries.
· Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
· First aid kit.
· Emergency food and water.
· Nonelectric can opener.
· Essential medicines.
· Sturdy shoes.
· Sanitary supplies (toilet paper, sanitary napkins and other such items)
· Garbage bags
· Basic tools (hammer, screwdriver, pliers, utility knife, scissors, etc.)
· Fire extinguisher
Develop an Emergency Communication Plan
· In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school); develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
· Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
What to do When the Shaking Starts
· Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
· DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
· Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
· 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.
· DO NOT use the elevators.
· If Outdoors
· Stay there.
· Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
· Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls.
· If In a Moving Vehicle
· Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
· Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
After the Earthquake
· Expect aftershocks.
· Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.
· Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
· Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
· Stay away from damaged areas. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
· Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
· Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
· Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
· Inspect utilities.
· Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
· Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
· Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
Download and print the Ready Burbank Earthquake Tips Document below.