QUAKE safety tips: What to do when an earthquake hits

AP file photo

OAKLAND (KRON) — Monday morning’s 4.0 magnitude earthquake that jolted awake many Bay Area residents serves as yet another reminder about quake safety and preparedness.

Safety experts say when the earth shakes, residents should remember the drill taught to students across California schools: drop, cover, and hold. DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. Emergency officials say if there is no furniture near-by to hold on to, find a corner in the building you’re in, crouch down and cover your face and head with your arms.

Experts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency advise not to run out of a building during the shaking because of the threat of falling objects which can lead to serious injuries.

After the shaking stops, experts say people should safely evacuate the building they’re in, keeping in mind that aftershocks can also produce powerful jolts. These additional shaking events can be strong enough to cause damage to already weakened structures, according to emergency officials. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the main event.

FEMA says when a large quake hits, residents should have a professional engineer or local building official inspect the structural integrity of your home for potential damages. Experts say the inspection should include: checking for gas, electrical, sewer, and water line damages to avoid hazardous leaks as well as checking a chimney for unnoticed damage that could lead to fires. Emergency officials say even a few cracks that may not be outwardly obvious can create unsafe conditions the next time the fire place is used.

Experts also remind residents that there are a number of safety measures you can take now to potentially minimize quake damage and be prepared when the next big one hits:

-Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items.
-Establish a disaster plan and decide how you will communicate with family members in the event of an emergency.
-Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations.

Officials also say residents can minimize financial hardship by retrofitting and strengthening property as well as organizing important documents and keeping them readily accessible. Some experts say residents may also want to consider getting earthquake insurance.

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