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How to Survive an Earthquake

how to survive an earthquake


Earthquakes are not only terrifying; they can be deadly. In 2012, there were over 700 deaths from earthquakes. Learning how to survive an earthquake is essential if you live in any area that is prone to earthquakes.

Who Gets Earthquakes?

Did you know that there are only 8 states that do not report earthquake activity? These states are:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

The remaining 42 states are affected by earthquakes. States with the most earthquakes are:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Utah
  • Oregon

Even though an earthquake may not occur in all these states, it is often felt in the states surround the one struck by an earthquake. It may still cause damage and injuries or death. Therefore, in addition to having a survival kit and first aid kit, it is essential for the majority of people in the U.S. to know how to survive and earthquake when one occurs.

Survival Myth

One common myth is to use the “triangle of life.” This idea was spread via email and was written by Doug Copp from American Rescue Team International. He claims that taking cover under an object that creates a void, often in a triangle shape, is the safest thing to do.

His email states, “…when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life‘”

Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

To practice this method:

  • Drop to your knees, before you are knocked down by the shaking.
  • Cover your head and neck under a sturdy table or desk.
  • Hold on to your shelter object and be ready to move if necessary.

If there is nothing to take shelter under, get down against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms. You should also make sure heavy items in your home are secured and use an earthquake kit to make your home safer.

Watch a demonstration of how to survive an earthquake in this video:

Image credit: USGS

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Earthquake Prep for the Central U.S.

earthquakes in central us

Most people think of California when they think of earthquake country, but the fact is, the Central U.S. has moderate to light earthquake fairly often, and larger earthquakes that will cause damage are expected to occur in the near future.

Would it surprise you to learn that there are 150 earthquakes each year in the Central U.S.?

Sadly, most people in the Central U.S. don’t think they are in any danger from earthquakes, so they do not prepare. If you live in the central U.S., take steps now to be reduce damage and injuries in the event of a major earthquake where you live.

If you live in an older home, be sure it is retrofitted to meet current codes for earthquake safety. Your home should be bolted to its foundation, the water heater should be strapped and furniture should be secured. If you have a chimney, it may need to be strengthened to keep it from collapsing. Get an earthquake kit to help you get your home secured.

You should also have emergency kits for your home, car and place of employment. A quake can occur at any time, and the resulting damage to roads and buildings may make it impossible to get home, so you will need to have emergency supplies with you.

Medical services and banks may be disabled after an earthquake, so be sure you have cash on hand, as well as a first aid kit and other essential medical supplies.

Look into a separate earthquake policy to cover any damage your property may sustain. Contrary to what many people think, a standard homeowner’s policy will not usually cover earthquake damage.

For more tips on how to prepare for an earthquake in the Central U.S., download the free PDF Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country from Earthquake Country Alliance.

Image credit: Earthquake Country Alliance

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Be Earthquake Ready

Earthquakes have really been in the news lately. Last week Alaska had several to deal with including one that prompted a tsunami warning that was later canceled.

Also last week, a small earthquake occurred in Colorado, apparently caused by coal mining in the area. Another small earthquake hit Oklahoma as well, and fortunately, there were no injuries.

Does it seem like there are a lot of earthquakes lately? Scientists are researching ways to predict earthquakes by monitoring electrical currents, and they expect a ‘big one’ to hit the Northwest soon based on small tremors that seem to be getting progressively stronger.

Another study found that faults previously considered stable may actually rupture, causing a ‘mega-quake‘. They added that a quake of this magnitude could place a heavy burden on emergency responders.

This is why it makes sense to prepare for emergencies like this. Make sure your emergency kit and first aid kit are ready to go. Don’t forget the extra earthquake supplies that you need to secure your home, and be ready to evacuate if necessary.

You need to be ready to take care of yourself and your family if emergency responders cannot get to you.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you.

photo credit: martinluff via photopin cc

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Using Technology for Earthquake Preparedness

EarthquakesLast week, a decent sized earthquake hit Mexico near Acapulco which served as a reminder of the devastating earthquakes and tsunamis that hit Japan last year. In California, or “earthquake country” as it’s often referred to, people casually talk about the “The Big One.” But earthquake preparedness is no laughing matter that that scientists and lay people alike know that we can expect to have a catastrophic earthquake likely on the San Andreas fault which stretches down the Golden State.

As a kid I remember my mom purchased a small device that was supposed to detect earthquakes and sound an alarm. While I had my doubts, it unfortunately annoyed everyone with its constant false alarms like when someone slammed a door (which was all too often in my family). So, so we had to remove it before we ever got to see if it really did predict earthquakes.

Prepare for EarthquakeHere we are today, some twenty odd years later and California is still without any effective earthquake preparedness technology. The best thing I’ve seen around is a $.99 iPhone App that is supposed to detect earthquakes by using the internal gyroscope that detects movement. This is the hardware responsible for detecting when the display mode should be either landscape or portrait. Supposedly you can lay it down next to you while you sleep to help you detect an earthquake. But again, I’m skeptical at best.

Other countries such as Japan and even Mexico supposedly have better earthquake detection and warning systems than we do in the U.S. Japan is reported to have spent $1 billion building their preparedness system. Compare that to the measly $400,000 a year that California researchers have spent developing our technology. Experts estimate that we need to spend at least another $50 on developing our system and another $5 million on operating it.

EarthquakesMaking the financial case for investment in earthquake preparedness difficult for the state is the fact that, unlike countries such as Mexico and Japan, California fortunately hasn’t actually had a catastrophic earthquake in over a century.  Scientists are close to a solution and a team in San Diego claims to have one that will help predict an earthquake 1 minute before the seismic shock-wave reaches.  But the real question is whether it will work the first time without having a bunch of false alarms first (like the device my mom bought when I was a kid).  The hope is that the system will also do more than just detect quakes but also communicate warning messages via social media, television, radio broadcast, fire/police stations, public transit operators, and more.

The state definitely should invest more in earthquake preparedness and technology but whether it gets off the ground or not everyone needs to make their own investment too by having an earthquake kit.  Predicting a quake will not help you necessarily survive the aftermath.  It is everyone’s own individual responsibility to prepare for an earthquake by taking the necessary steps such as purchasing a reliable earthquake kit.

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