Earthquakes are caused by a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust, resulting in seismic waves. Earthquakes can happen almost anywhere, at any time, and can cause personal injury and/or property damage. Although California comes to mind when we think of earthquakes, other areas may also be at risk.
Is there anything I can do to prepare for an earthquake?
Earthquakes are not seasonal and they often occur without warning. However, the following are some general tips to help you prepare for an earthquake:
- Review your insurance policies annually with your agent to help you determine whether your coverage meets your needs.
- Keep an updated inventory of your personal property and other important documents in a fire-proof safe.
- Create a survival kit.
- Locate safe spots in each room of your home - for example, under a sturdy table or against an inside wall - and hold earthquake drills with your family members.
- Plan your evacuation route, designate a place for all family members to meet and decide how family members will communicate if separated.
- Secure all heavy or large objects that could fall during an earthquake.
What should I do during an earthquake?
Most importantly, do not panic.
- If you are inside when an earthquake occurs, stay there and follow the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” technique: Drop to the ground, take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, evacuate the building and be aware of hazardous conditions.
- If you are outside, drop to the ground. Stay away from buildings, trees and power lines.
- If you are in a vehicle, pull over to the side of the road. Do not stop on an overpass, under a bridge, under streetlights or near trees or power lines.
- If you become trapped under debris, do not move or kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a piece of clothing and shout only as a last resort, as it may cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust. Make noise, such as tapping on a pipe or hard object, so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available.
The earthquake is over – now what?
Expect aftershocks and proceed with caution. If you are inside, evacuate the building and be aware of hazardous conditions. If you live in a coastal area, be aware of the possibility of a tsunami and stay away from the beach. Once danger has passed, learn steps to take to help you recover.