In yesterday’s post, I wrote about what to do in an earthquake. Today, we’ll be talking about what to do right afterwards.
When you first re-enter your home after an earthquake, or you dig your way out from under your desk, your first concern should be to check for fire or fire hazards, broken gas pipes, downed power lines and spilled chemicals. If you smell gas or hear hissing, close the main gas valve, leave the house immediately and notify the utility. If you find shredded electric wires, turn off the electricity at its source. Don’t try to move a downed power line. Stay away from it and let the utility know. Remember that water conducts electricity, so stay clear of any standing water near a downed line.
Be in touch with your family members so that you all know where and how you all are. Check in with the out-of-town friend or relative that you included in your evacuation plan. Check in with your neighbors and any elderly or disabled friends that may need your help. Then stay off the phone and free up the channels for use by emergency responders.
Take pictures of the damage to your home before you do much to clean up. File your insurance claim immediately.
If your power is off, but you haven’t been out of the house for more than a few hours, make meal plans that allow you to finish up what is in your refrigerator and freezer before you start in on your canned goods. Be careful with your food, though. You don’t want to add a case of food poisoning to the challenges you already face from the earthquake.
Throughout all of this, listen to your portable radio so that you can keep up with important news bulletins.
After an earthquake, it’s common to experience aftershocks. An aftershock is a second earthquake that occurs in the same area as the initial earthquake. They can be quite serious and can continue for weeks after the initial earthquake. You should react to an aftershock the same way that you react to the first earthquake — drop to your hands and knees, take cover under a desk or table, and hold onto it until the shaking stops.
Buildings that were damaged in the first earthquake may suffer additional damage, or even collapse, during an aftershock. You should continue to examine your home, including the foundation, the chimneys and gas pipes and electrical wires, after every aftershock.
A tsunami is a seismic sea wave caused by the displacement of water which can occur because of an earthquake. The tremendous force of water of a tsunami can be very destructive. If you live in a coastal area, you may be at risk and you may need to evacuate. Monitor your emergency radio and be prepared to hit the road if a tsunami is likely.
Earthquakes can do enormous damage and can trigger other events, such as fire, gas leaks, downed power lines, and tsunamis, which can themselves threaten life and property. Because it isn’t possible to forecast an earthquake, you need to be vigilant in your general preparedness plan so that you can respond at a moment’s notice.
I hope that the ground always stays steady under your feet. But if it starts to quake, I hope it finds you prepared. Have a look at What to Do In An Earthquake – Part I for more important information.
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