Most people think they know what to do in an earthquake by now because of the earthquake drills that we practiced — until we’re actually there to experience the ground move beneath us. No matter how minor or catastrophic an earthquake is, it’s important that you follow these guides on what measures you should take when an earthquake hits.

Your Guide on What to Do in an Earthquake:

Just recently, two massive earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria, with mass casualties ranging in the thousands. Smaller quakes were recorded in Buffalo, NY, and Ontario, Canada. Though the magnitude was only 3.8 — and to an extent — one to shrug off. Sometimes, some places and nations experience more unfortunate and intense tremors like the ones in Türkiye and Syria. And California is certainly no stranger to earthquakes, either. In case we ever (knock on wood) experience earthquakes of that kind, you must at least be aware of these things:

Be earthquake-ready

Seismologists cannot predict when an earthquake will strike — hence why we don’t get forecasts of it the same way we do with the weather. However, some places are more prone to experiencing earth tremors than others. Like Hawaii, California, Alaska, and other states that lie atop the fault lines and are covered by the “ring of fire.” Thus, if you live in these areas, you must already have an emergency plan when an earthquake hits.

Earthquake-prone or not, everyone must have an emergency kit that contains flashlights, first-aid kits, water, quick and easy-to-eat meals, a whistle, and a fire extinguisher. If you have pets, don’t forget about their safety! — have an emergency kit ready for them as well.

Identify safe and sturdy places in your home. Make sure it’s not near any tall furniture, unsteady shelves, or fragile or heavy decorations like vases and figurines. Moreover, ensure that your safe spot isn’t near anything that can be set on fire. That said, make it a habit to shut off your gas stove and unplug your electronics when they’re not in use.

Stay stable as the ground shakes

As soon as you feel an earthquake, don’t wait to determine if it’s intense or not. Assuming that your family already practiced an earthquake drill in your home, get them to find security under a sturdy desk or table. Cover your heads and wait until the tremor dies out.

If you can’t get to a safe spot on time — or if you’re outdoors — go to the nearest interior wall and take cover there. If you’re stuck in an open space, crouch and, again, cover your head. Avoid elevators, door frames, windows, and chimneys.

An earthquake might strike while you’re driving. If that’s the case, pull over and make sure you give way to other vehicles — especially in situations like this. It’s not just your fellow private vehicles that need the road cleared — emergency responders will need it more than ever. Once you pull over, stay inside! And make sure you’re not on a bridge or overpass. There’s a chance that these infrastructures may collapse.

Analyze the aftermath

Once you’re sure that the tremors have stopped, check yourself — before others! — if you’re injured or not. If you are, patch yourself up first; unless you’re only dealing with scratches and gashes, then you have to help your family and/or relatives who have acquired more severe injuries than you.

If the power is out, use a flashlight that you should (already) have in your emergency kit. Do not use matches or candles — there might be a gas leak! Assess if there are damaged wires or electric lines. Shut off the circuit breaker or valves if so.

Listen to the radio and wait for the local government’s advice. If you live near the beach, it’s best that you stay away from it — there might be an impending tsunami that’s ready to hit.

Stay Safe, Stay Calm, and Stay Ready!

Mother Nature is unpredictable. Despite advanced science, research, and technology, we still cannot know for sure when an earthquake will hit. That’s why it’s always best to be prepared so you know what to do when an earthquake hits your town — it’s also vital that you stay calm and logical in situations like this.

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