If a major earthquake were to strike in the area you live in, would you be prepared to deal with it?
Strong earthquakes are capable of massive devastation – buildings may crumble, roadways may collapse, water and power services are often lost for an extended period of time. Fires can rage through affected areas when gas mains rupture, hospitals are likely to be overcrowded and overwhelmed, thousands may be left homeless in less than ideal weather conditions.
You might think that the West Coast is the only part of the United States susceptible to dangerous earthquakes, but there are several major fault lines located within the continental U.S. capable of producing devastating quakes. Alaska too has active fault lines and Hawaii is perpetually at risk of tsunami generated by earthquakes elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
In fact, there is a good chance that you will experience a serious earthquake at some point in your life.
From National Geographic:
“…while all U.S. states have some potential for earthquakes, 42 of the 50 states ‘have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake in 50 years,’ which is generally considered the typical lifetime of a building. Sixteen of those states have a ‘relatively high likelihood’ of damaging shaking.”
The keys to surviving a major quake are to be prepared for the actual event itself as well as its aftermath.
Getting through the aftermath of a quake is similar to that of any disaster – you’ll need ample food, water, and survival supplies. There are plenty of resources on this site and elsewhere to help you prepare for short- and long-term survival after a cataclysmic event.
But what about surviving the actual quake itself while it is occurring? Would you know how to react if a major earthquake were to strike without warning?
Daisy Luther of the Organic Prepper has posted a helpful guide with tips on what to do when the ground begins to shake.
The standard advice to anyone when a quake first hits is to:
Drop: get as low to the ground as possible
Cover: Cover your head, get under something, bend forward to protect your vital organs
Hold on: Hold on to your shelter with one hand and move along with it if it shifts
In the chaos immediately following a severe earthquake, it’s important to keep a clear head and be prepared to take whatever actions are necessary, because there may not be emergency services readily available:
“Depending on the severity of the earthquake you may not get emergency announcements advising of evacuation routes or refuge centers. The emergency services themselves may be unable to function, and communications may be down.
“You could be on your own for a considerable length of time before rescuers get to you. It’s vital to think clearly and logically, which is not always easy in an emergency situation. That’s why it’s important to think these things through ahead of time…”
Luther’s tips include advice on how to react in different situations – whether you’re indoors, outdoors, or on a coastline that might be threatened by a tsunami.
Each situation requires a different strategy, but any strategy must be flexible – it’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen or where you might be when a quake occurs.
No matter where you live, you should take the time to inform yourself on how to react during a major quake event. A little knowledge and preparation could mean the difference between life and death for you and your loved ones.
It may be a good idea to read Luther’s article and print it out for later reference – especially in the case of a power outage.