What to do if an earthquake strikes: Take steps to prepare in an emergency

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

Earthquake Facts
* Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning, and can occur any time of the year; day or night.
* On a yearly basis, 70-75 damaging earthquakes occur throughout the world.
* Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling objects. Most injuries occur when people are hit by flying objects when entering into or exiting from buildings.

Danger Zones
* Forty-one states and territories are at moderate risk of earthquakes. They occur most frequently west of the Rocky Mountains.
* California experiences the most frequent damaging earthquakes; however, Alaska experiences the greatest number of large earthquakes and most are located in uninhabited areas.
* The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and along exterior walls.

Actions to Consider

BEFORE

* Fasten shelves securely to walls. Store breakable items (bottled food, glass, china, etc.) in low, closed cabinets with latches.
* Hang heavy items (pictures, mirrors, etc.) away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
* Brace overhead light fixtures.
* Install flexible pipe fittings to minimize breakage of gas and water lines.
* Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
* Store flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches on the bottom shelves.
* Choose a safe place in every room (e.g., under a sturdy table or against an inside wall) where nothing can fall on people.

DURING

If Indoors

* Drop, cover and hold on. Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place.
* Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you're sure it is safe to exit.
* In a high rise building, do not use the elevators.
* Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
* If you are in bed, stay there. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow. If there is a heavy light fixture that could fall on you, move to the nearest safe place.
* Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is strongly supported and load bearing.

If Outdoors

* Move into the open, away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires.
* Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.

If in a Vehicle

* Stop as quickly and safely as possible, and then remain in the vehicle.
* Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
* Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped, watching for road and bridge damage.

If Trapped Under Debris

* Do not light a match or lighter.
* Do not move about or kick up dust.
* Cover your mouth with fabric or clothing.
* Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you or use a whistle if one is available.
* Shout only as a last resort - shouting can cause inhalation of dangerous amounts of dust.

AFTER

* Provide first aid and CPR if trained to do so.
* After-shocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks or even months after the quake. They can cause further damage to weakened buildings, so proceed with caution.
* Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks - a larger earthquake might occur.
* Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
* Be aware of possible tsunamis if near the coast.
* Pets' behavior may change dramatically after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard.

Did You Know...
From 1975 to 1995 there were only four states that did not have any earthquakes. They were: Florida, Iowa, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

For more information contact the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron Readiness & Emergency Management flight or visit Air Force Be Ready page http://www.beready.af.mil/.