Across the world, we experience 20,000 earthquakes every year. That’s around 55 earthquakes a day!
While some might be so small you don’t even feel it, others might be big enough to cause some devastation. You might hope and pray that you won’t have to go through one of these, but the reality is, there’s always a chance a huge earthquake can strike.
In that case, you want to be prepared so you know exactly what to do after an earthquake so you can ensure your safety and security. Here are 6 important things you should take care of.
1. Assess the Situation
After the ground stops shaking, you’ll want to assess the situation. Try to remain as calm as you can, and take in all the information you can.
Is the building in solid condition? Are people hurt?
If you’re in an unstable area, move somewhere more sheltered and safe. Ideally, you’ll want to head outside.
And if there are people who are hurt (including yourself), get out the first aid kit and call 911 immediately if people are seriously injured.
You and your family should’ve agreed on a meeting place for emergencies. If you’re not all together, then head to that meeting place if possible so you can get a headcount and check that everyone’s ok.
2. Expect Aftershocks
Earthquakes rarely just come and go. In most cases, there will be several aftershocks, which are smaller earthquakes. In fact, some aftershocks can continue on for weeks or even years!
So just because the ground’s stopped shaking doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll stay stable. Be prepared for some aftershocks to follow soon after.
When they happen, make sure to take the same safety measures as you did during the main earthquake. Get under something (like a table), cover the back of your neck, and hold onto the object while riding out the aftershocks.
3. Check Your Home if Possible
If the earthquake wasn’t too big, check your home if you’re inside of it. Go around and take a look at the water, electric, and gas lines to see if the earthquake caused any damage. If you see serious structural damage, smell gas, and/or see live wires, stay away and get outside of your house quickly.
Otherwise, take note of damage such as cracks to the foundation, broken windows, and even damage on your roof. Document these damages straightaway by taking pictures with your cell phone. These will come in handy when you file your insurance claim.
If there is broken glass, take extra care and wear close-toed shoes while you navigate your house. You don’t want any additional injuries, after all.
4. Get Outside
If it’s safe, get outside and check your home for damages there too. For example, if you noticed damage on your roof while looking out your bedroom, see if you can spot more details outside.
You’ll also want to be on the lookout for downed power lines. Many after-earthquake injuries are sustained from these, so you’ll want to stay far away from any that you spot. This is one of the many after earthquake effects many people don’t expect.
5. Be Careful About the Water
It’s important to stay hydrated, no matter what’s happening. But after an earthquake, there might be damage to the water and/or sewer lines. If this happens, you need to steer clear of drinking tap water since it’ll be contaminated.
To find out if your water’s ok, check online with your community media reports. If there are reports of contaminated water, make sure you shut off your water and sewer lines immediately.
In the meantime, drink from bottled water you have in your home. If you don’t have any, then get your freezer tray out and drink the water that melts.
6. Start Cleaning Up
Once you’ve gotten injured people taken care of, assessed (and recorded) the damage to your property, and have ensured that it’s safe to proceed, you can then start cleaning up.
First, make sure you have the proper gear on. Avoid wearing loose clothing but have long sleeves on. You’ll also want to put on a ventilation mask, gloves, eye protection, and close-toed shoes.
Don’t clean up alone either; you need to keep aftershocks in mind. Should anything happen to you while you’re cleaning up, you want to have someone there so they’re aware and can get help.
As you move through the areas, first check that all items aren’t in precarious positions, such as in closets or bookshelves. Take caution moving around and it’s always best to go slowly.
A Roll Off Dumpster Rental can be tremendously helpful. Simply dump all the debris and waste in as you go along and the dumpster Rental Company can come pick it up after you’re done.
If you smell gas at any time, it’s best to evacuate and wait until the utilities are fixed before you proceed.
Take the Right Steps after an Earthquake
Experiencing a major earthquake can be quite harrowing, especially if there’s a good deal of damage. But by knowing ahead of time what you should do after an earthquake, this can decrease your stress should the worst-case scenario happen.
The most important things are to assess the situation, provide first aid for those who are injured, call 911, and check for structural damages if possible. Once you’ve recorded all the damage, you can then get started on cleaning up if it’s safe.
Also, always be prepared for aftershocks. You’ll likely have quite a few of them after the main earthquake, so you want to make sure that both you and your loved ones are in safe places to decrease the chance of injury.
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