The First 5 Things You Should Do After An Earthquake

Explains the five most important steps to take immediately following an earthquake.

Earthquakes are unarguably one of the most powerful and destructive forces in nature. What makes earthquakes feared is their unpredictability and sudden occurrence without prior warning. It probably comes as no surprise that most serious injuries and fatalities attributed to earthquakes often occur in the aftermath of the quake, amid the panic and turmoil of persons uneducated about what to do in the event of the destructive force. While buildings made structurally unsafe by the quake account for many of the serious injuries and fatalities, ruptured gas lines and unnecessary traffic also contribute to a rising death toll.

Although earthquakes are largely unexpected in nature, aftershocks are not. If there is one thing predictable about an earthquake, it's that there will be aftershocks, perhaps many of them, some of which will be strong enough in nature to make an already tenuous situation even worse. Preparation and education on what to do in the event of an earthquake is key to helping one survive one of the most destructive forces known to humankind. Although the list of things to do following an earthquake can be quite lengthy and varied, there are five important things that everybody should learn in order to increase their chances of surviving the cataclysmic event.

1. A head count should be performed immediately following an earthquake. Whether you are in your office or at home, a head count should be conducted in order to establish whether or not everyone is accounted for and to determine if someone is missing and needs assistance.

2. Check yourself and others for possible injuries. The majority of injuries after an earthquake are relatively mild and usually involve bruises, cuts, and scrapes. However, serious injuries do occur as the result of falling debris and structurally unsafe buildings that warrant immediate assistance. If anybody is seriously injured, determine if there is anyone in the nearby vicinity who is trained to handle such an injury. If not, designate a driver to escort the injured victim to the nearest medical facility as soon as possible. It is important to note that vehicles should be driven after an earthquake only in the direst of circumstances. Too many vehicles on the road greatly hamper the ability of rescue vehicles to move freely as well as present a hazard to the driver in the form of unstable bridges and overpasses.

3. Check the receiver of your phone to make sure that it is on the hook. Oftentimes during earthquakes, receivers are not off of their hooks, causing the entire phone system to overload and disrupt service if the problem is widespread enough.

4. Grab a flashlight and battery powered radio if the electricity is off. An effort should be made prior to the actual earthquake to designate a flashlight and battery powered radio in the event of emergencies. Never use candles, matches, or lighters as light sources since gas leaks are generally widespread following earthquakes and flames present a serious hazard to anyone in the nearby vicinity.

5. Check the building or house you are in for structural damage. If there is evidence that the building is compromised structurally, immediately remove yourself and others as aftershocks are likely to occur that may cause further damage to the building, thus threatening the safety of everyone inhabiting the unstable structure.

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