Remember that the four stages of coping with natural disasters are comprised of:
Anticipation -- Forecasting and planning for disaster
Mitigation -- Seismic retrofits and structural strengthening
Response -- Helping injured persons and emergency responders
Recovery -- Rebuilding and economic renewal
After an earthquake, particularly a major damaging earthquake, check for any gas leaks or electrical damage. If you smell or hear gas, turn off the gas at the meter and contact the gas company. If you see sparks, frayed wire, or smell hot insulation turn off the power at the circuit breaker box and contact the electric company.
Earthquakes don't always occur when it is convenient or when we are with our families and loved ones. Be sure to have an emergency plan for such an event and make sure that everyone understands it. Consider having a contact out of the area who can coordinate information for the entire family.
Think about how you arrange your furniture and heavy objects. Put heavy objects closer to the ground and bolt bookcases to the wall. Bookcases or objects can cause injury when they fall and they may block exit pathways after an earthquake.
Make sure the water heater in your home or apartment is secured to the wall near it. One method is to use a metal strap around the water heater, with the strapping ends screwed to the wall.
When the shaking starts: If you are inside, stay inside and try to get under a table or into a closet or doorway, or other small, confined, rigid space.
Following the earthquake, if you are indoors, move outside when you determine it to be safe. Check for gas leaks and be sensitive to the possibility of fire following the earthquake, a common circumstance.
If you are near the ocean, or especially near the beach, be watchful for the possibility of a tsunami (in these cases, observers would see the water recede far from the normal shoreline, exposing a significant amount of sea bottom, prior to the wave building and rapidly moving landward). If possible, go to higher ground farther inland as rapidly as possible.
When the shaking subsides, check yourself and others for injuries. If significant damage has occurred, make sure that no one is buried under rubble or debris. Listen for cries of help. If telephones (landlines or cell phones) are still operating, use them for emergency medical help, but not for frivolous conversations.
If you have an operating radio, television, or internet connection, listen for information and instructions from emergency responders as to next actions. These may include coming to the aid of other injured persons in your area, or requests for help in delivering specific emergency services.
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