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As we finished our Easter meal a few of us around the table began to feel a bit woozy, soon we realized it was an earthquake.  Southern California had a little extra excitement this Easter.

The 7.2 quake centered in Mexicali shook the ground, long and hard.  Initially we took it in stride, but it continued and then grew stronger.  It got our attention.  While the earth was shaking we had enough time for a brief discussion around the table about what we should do and where we should go to stay safe.  None of us was sure.

School children in California know what to do in an earthquake, “drop, cover and hold.”   They do drills every year.  I guess this is one time when we really should be listening to our kids!

FEMA has some recommendations for us.  First, they warn that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger quake may follow.  Also, it is best to minimize movement to just a few steps heading toward a safe place and stay put until the shaking stops.

If inside:

  • Drop to the ground; take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other furniture and hold on until it is over.
  • Stay away from windows, glass, doors and walls, anything that could fall.  That includes light fixtures or tall furniture.
  • If you are in bed, stay there.  Hold on and protect your head with a pillow.  If you are under something that could fall, like a heavy light fixture, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is close by and you are confident that it is strongly supported and load bearing.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops.  Research suggests that most injuries occur when people are inside and try to move too far or try to get outside during an earthquake.
  • Don’t be surprised if the electricity goes out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms go off.
  • DO NOT use elevators.

If outside:

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlight, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.  The greatest danger is directly outside buildings, at exits and along exterior walls.

If in a moving vehicle:

  • Stop as quickly as safely possible and stay in the vehicle.  Don’t stop near Proceed cautiously when the shaking stops.
  • Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris:

  • Don’t light a match.
  • Don’t move around or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can find you.  Shout only as a last resort.  Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

Most of us have never been hurt in an earthquake.  Let’s do our best to keep it that way by being well informed about how to stay SAFE the next time one comes along!


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