In an instant, a normal, routine day can turn into fighting for your life. A natural disaster can happen at any time. Are you prepared to survive a natural catastrophe?
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
Earthquake. We live in “earthquake country” as some would say and aren’t surprised when we experience a tremor now and then. It has been relatively quiet on the quake front and unfortunately, that leads to people being unprepared.
The recent events in Japan, which have caught the world’s attention, should let us know, being prepared is a matter of life and death. Here is some information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about being prepared for an earthquake.
-Check to make sure your electrical, gas and basic utilities are functioning properly. Seek professional help in checking these connections
-Secure major appliances like your refrigerator, water heater and all the other gas appliances. It is also suggested that if requested, get a gas shutoff valve
-Secure cabinets, shelves, large frames on walls. Put heavy objects in lower places
-Breakable items such as china and glass objects should be in fastened cabinets
-Make sure your residence is anchored to the foundation
-Find safe spots within your residence like a sturdy wall or table
-Earthquake drills are necessary and should be done
Other importance factors to keep in my mind during an earthquake are procedures while indoors, outdoors, in a vehicle or under debris.
If you are indoors, take cover under a table, desk, against a wall or in a secure doorway and hold on. If you are unable to take cover, crouch in a corner protecting your face and head. Stay away from broken glass, and anything that could fall and injure you. It’s safer to wait until shaking stops before going outside and don’t use the elevators.
When outside, stay outside and avoid buildings, power lines and wires. Be careful of falling debris.
If in a car, pull over safely and wait in the vehicle. When stopping your vehicle, make sure you are not under any kind of structures, trees, streetlights or overpasses. Once shaking has stopped, proceed with caution using defensive driving skills.
If you should become trapped under debris, don’t light a match or stir any dust. Be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth or your clothes. Tap on pipes or the ground, or even whistle to draw the attention of people; shouting is suggested as a last resort because you could inhale dangerous debris.
I also have some quick tips to keep you safe and protected. Always make sure to keep a flashlight near your bed along with a pair of tennis shoes. Prepare an earthquake kit filled with your personal medications and medical aid. Keep bottled water and nonperishable foods and snacks in case you are unable to cook, purchase or receive food for a period of time.
Be ready for aftershocks, be careful when opening cases and cabinets in your residence, and stay away from severely damaged areas. Be sure to listen to local fire, police and relief organization instructions. If you live on the coast, be aware of possible tsunami alerts.
More info can be found at the FEMA website at http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/earthquakes.shtm
‘Be Ready!’ is a monthly piece dedicated to providing information on how to survive a natural disaster.