What to Do After an EarthquakeExpect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less
violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional
damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days,
weeks, or even months after the quake.
Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest
Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance
has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations.
Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are
also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called "tidal waves").
When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series
of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors
who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and
people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move
seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further
injury. Call for help.
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable
liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from
Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed
damage could lead to a fire.
Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise,
open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the
outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's
home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back o
n by a professional.
Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or
frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the
main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to
the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage l
ines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water
pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water
from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
Know Your Earthquake Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an earthquake hazard:
An earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earthquake.
A sudden slipping or movement of a portion of the earthâ€™s crust, accompanied
and followed by a series of vibrations.
The place on the earthâ€™s surface directly above the point on the fault where the earthquake rupture began. Once fault slippage begins, it expands along the fault during the earthquake and can extend hundreds of miles before stopping.
The fracture across which displacement has occurred during an earthquake. The slippage may range from less than an inch to more than 10 yards in a severe earthquake.
The amount of energy released during an earthquake, which is computed from the amplitude of the seismic waves. A magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter Scale indicates an extremely strong earthquake. Each whole number on the scale represents an increase of about 30 times more energy released than the previous whole number represents. Therefore, an earthquake measuring 6.0 is about 30 times more powerful than one measuring 5.0.
Vibrations that travel outward from the earthquake fault at speeds of several miles per second. Although fault slippage directly under a structure can cause considerable damage, the vibrations of seismic waves cause most of the destruction during earthquakes.
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