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What to Do Before, During and After an Earthquake

Weather
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Earthquakes can be terrifying, especially if you don't know what to do after one happens. This is a common situation for many who may not be familiar with earthquakes or are unsure of the proper steps to take when disaster strikes. While an earthquake is unpredictable, ensuring that you are well prepared beforehand is key. Learn what to do before, during, and after an earthquake hits to protect yourself, your home and your property with these easy tips from ServiceMaster Restore.

What To Do Before An Earthquake

Earthquakes can happen without notice. However, there are some simple steps you can take if you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes. These include:

  • Stocking up on the essentials: Make sure you have a first-aid kit, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries. These items will come in handy in case you find yourself without power or if a family member is injured.
  • Setting up a family earthquake plan: Knowing what steps to take when an earthquake hits is key. Sit down with your family and discuss the steps that you need to take in case of an earthquake. This can include setting up a nearby meeting point, knowing the proper steps to take to protect oneself during an earthquake such as hiding under a table or desk, and practicing basic first aid in case of an injury.
  • Knowing how to turn off your home's utility lines: When an earthquake hits, it may damage utility lines and cause extensive damage to your home if left unaddressed. Take the time to go around your home to find out where you can turn off the electricity, gas, and water lines to prevent damage to you or your home.
  • Securing heavy objects and appliances: Heavy objects can fall during an earthquake and cause harm. Make sure that heavy furniture, cupboards, water heaters, appliances, and other heavy objects on shelves are secured. This comes with the added benefit of protecting any personal belongings that may be damaged if they drop to the ground during the shaking.
  • Inspect your homeowners insurance policy for coverage: Some homeowners insurance policies typically don’t have coverage for earthquake damage. Talk to your insurance agent about adding coverage for home earthquake damage to ensure you’re covered for structural damage, payments for temporary housing, and replacement of personal property.

What To Do During An Earthquake

When an earthquake hits, you may start to panic and be unsure of what to do. Here are some simple steps you can follow to ensure that you and your family are safe:

  • Stay calm: It may be easier said than done, but remaining calm during an earthquake can allow you to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family. Take a deep breath and focus on staying level headed during the earthquake.
  • If you're indoors, stay inside: Stand in a doorway, crawl under a table or desk, or stand against an interior wall in the middle of your home. Protect your head and neck to keep yourself safe from debris that could fall from nearby bookshelves or cupboards. Face away from windows to avoid being harmed by breaking glass and cover your head and neck to prevent injuries. You may have the urge to run outdoors if you fear that your home may fall, but stay inside and seek shelter.
  • If you're outside: Stand far away from power lines that may fall during the earthquake and electrocute you. If possible, stay far away from buildings since they could fall on you or loose debris may harm you.
  • If you're in your car: Pull over and stop the car until the shaking stops. Avoid driving during the earthquake since this may cause you to lose control and crash.
  • Avoid using matches, candles, or lighters: Gas lines may have ruptured and could cause extensive damage if you try and light a flame. Use your phone or a battery-operated flashlight if you're in the dark and need to see.

What to Do After an Earthquake

If You Are Uninjured…

Once the shaking stops and you're able to stand up, look around you. Is there a clear path to safety? If so, leave the building and head for an open space away from damaged areas. If there's a lot of rubble, it's in your best interest to get outside as fast as possible, since the building's structural integrity may be at risk. If you see downed power lines on the street, steer clear – they could electrocute you upon contact. If you are in a car when the earthquake hits, proceed cautiously once the shaking has stopped. Avoid any roads that the earthquake could have damaged or destroyed, such as underpasses, bridges or ramps.

If You Are Trapped or Hurt…

If you are trapped inside with no imminent threats, stay put and try not to disturb the items around you. Debris can shift or cave-in after an earthquake, so it's important not to add to the danger by moving or trying to extract the rubble alone. If you have a cell phone, use it to call or text for help. If you hear or think that rescuers have arrived, shout and tap on an exposed pipe, wall or piece of metal so they can find you faster.

Prepare for Aftershocks

Sometimes, aftershocks occur immediately following an earthquake. Be prepared to "Drop, Cover and Hold on" in case the aftershocks hit your area. If you feel the shaking start again, quickly drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with your arms and hold on to something secure.

Assess the Damage

After the earthquake is over and you're in a safe place, listen to your local news reports. They will give you emergency information and up-to-date instructions on what's happening in your area and what you should do next. Remember to check your property for any damage, including water, gas and electric lines. If any of these lines have obvious issues, shut them off and call the professionals to get the problem fixed as soon as possible. If you smell gas, open as many windows and doors as you can and leave the building immediately. Report the leak to authorities as soon as you have access to a telephone.

If the structure of your home looks compromised, do not enter. Call professional inspectors to assess the damage, and only enter your home when it's deemed safe to do so.

For more information about what you should do before, during and after an earthquake, visit Ready.gov today.

Ensure Your Home Is Restored After An Earthquake By A Professional

If your home has been damaged by a recent earthquake, call the restoration experts at ServiceMaster Restore® to get your life back to normal as soon as possible. Our professional teams are here to help navigate you every step of the way from crisis to resolution, and we're available 24/7/365 to answer all your restoration questions. Learn more about our natural disaster damage restoration services and see how we can help restore your home and your peace of mind if the unthinkable happens.