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September is National Preparedness Month: Earthquake Safety

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September 27, 2010 -- September is National Preparedness Month!  Sponsored by, the goal of this awareness month is to encourage you to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies at home, work, and within your community.  Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) will be providing information, resources, and tips to assist you with emergency preparedness. 



Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning. They occur at any time of the year and at any time of the day or night. On a yearly basis, 70 to 75 damaging earthquakes occur throughout the world.


An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the Earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the Earth’s surface. Ground shaking from earthquakes can collapse buildings and bridges, disrupt gas, electric, and phone service, and sometimes trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and huge, destructive ocean waves (tsunamis).


During an Earthquake

  • Drop, cover, and hold on! Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. It is very dangerous to try to leave a building during an earthquake because objects can fall on you.
  • If you are in bed, hold on and stay there. Protect your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.
  • If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines. Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops.  
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking has stopped. Stopping will help reduce your risk, and a hard-topped vehicle will help protect you from flying or falling objects.
  • Stay away from windows. Windows can shatter with such force that you can be injured several feet away.
  • In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
  • If you are in a coastal area, move to higher ground. Tsunamis are often created by earthquakes.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris that could be loosened by the earthquake. Landslides commonly happen after earthquakes.


What To Do After an Earthquake

  • Check yourself for injuries.
  • After you have taken care of yourself, help injured or trapped persons. If you have it in your area, call 9-1-1, then give first aid when appropriate. Don’t try to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Open closet and cabinet doors cautiously. Contents may have shifted during the shaking of an earthquake and could fall, creating further damage or injury.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Get everyone out if your home is unsafe. Aftershocks following earthquakes can cause further damage to unstable buildings.
  • Help neighbors who may require special assistance. Elderly people and people with disabilities may require additional assistance. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
  • Listen to a portable, battery-operated radio (or television) for updated emergency information and instructions. If the electricity is out, this may be your main source of information.
  • Expect aftershocks. Each time you feel one, drop, cover, and hold on! Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks, and even months following an earthquake.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines, and stay out of damaged areas.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Watch for loose plaster, drywall, and ceilings that could fall.
  • Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard.

Plan for an Earthquake

  • Secure it now!  By reducing and/or eliminating hazards throughout your home, you can greatly reduce your risk of injury or death.  Conduct a "hazard hunt" to help identify and fix things such as unsecured televisions, computers, bookcases, furniture, unstrapped water heaters, etc.
  • Make an emergency plan. Make sure that your emergency plan includes evacuation and reunion plans; your out-of-state contact person's name and number; the location of your emergency supplies and other pertinent information.
  • Make disaster kits. Everyone should have disaster supplies kits stored in accessible locations at home, at work, and in your vehicle. Having emergency supplies readily available can reduce the impact of an earthquake or other emergency on you and your family. Your disaster supplies kits should include food, water, flashlights, portable radios, batteries, a first aid kit, cash, extra medications, a whistle, fire extinguisher, etc.
  • Learn about earthquake risk in your area by contacting your local emergency management office or American Red Cross Chapter. 

It’s not just about saving lives; it’s about saving your life.


1 Comment


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