Are you earthquake ready? Tips to prepare you and your family

Are you earthquake ready? Tips to prepare you and your family

by Courtney Pollock
Naval Station Rota, Spain

Earthquakes. It’s hard to know how you will react to one until you’ve personally experienced it. Having lived in Japan for over seven years, I fully know what it feels like to wake up in the middle of a night to the slow swaying and creaking of your home, or the violent, intense rattles while going about your everyday errands. Even with it being a common experience, the surprise always caught me off guard. That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself, and your family, for a potential earthquake.

So what do you do if you find yourself in an earthquake? According to the Great ShakeOut website, they recommend “stop, cover, and hold on.” To best protect yourself in an earthquake, stop immediately and drop to your hands and knees as you move to cover. Covering your head and neck with one arm, move towards an interior wall and away from windows and large furniture that can fall. Ideally, find a sturdy table to get underneath. Lastly, hold on until the earthquake is over.

But isn’t a doorway the safest spot in a home? The website also dispelled some common myths such as doorways being safer than other parts of the house as well as running outside. You are safer, in fact, if you stay indoors and find a heavy table to go under during an earthquake. Exiting your home can put you in danger of falling or being hit by falling debris and glass.
There are some other tips you can take to prepare you and your family for a potential earthquake.

Create an emergency kit. Your emergency kit should contain food for three days including one gallon of water per person per day. Other items to include are a first aid kit, flashlights and batteries, and sanitation items. Remember to think about any special needs or medicine requirements for your family including pets. This kit should be reviewed and updated yearly.

Make a plan. It’s important that your family, particularly children, know what to do in case of an emergency. The website has many resources on how to create a disaster plan. Living in a coastal area like us, one consideration should be moving toward higher ground and away from the water should an earthquake trigger a tsunami.

Protect your home. One of the easiest preventative measures you can take now is to prepare your home for a possible earthquake. Anchor heavy furniture and televisions to the walls, place breakables on lower shelves, and look into home structural issues now instead of later.

Talk with your children. Earthquakes are even scary for adults so it’s important to prep your children. Discuss “stop, cover, and hold on” with your children and what that looks like if they are in bed, playing outside, or at school. Discuss a communication plan on how you would reach each other – either via phone or a set meeting location – after an earthquake or any natural disaster. Talking with your children will help to reduce fear and anxiety should an earthquake occur.

While we may never experience an earthquake while stationed in Rota, Spain, there is a chance you could end up somewhere in the world where earthquakes are a common occurrence. You will only need to update your escape plans, tweak your emergency kit and then you will be earthquake ready!

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