California Residents Should Prepare For Strong Earthquakes

Matt Lillywhite

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"Each year, California generally gets two or three earthquakes large enough to cause moderate damage to structures (magnitude 5.5 and higher)," per the California Department of Conservation. And since several fault lines run through major population centers throughout California, residents should know what to do during a strong earthquake.

How To Prepare For An Earthquake.

The US government recommends creating a list of people that you can contact in an emergency. In case of power outages, you should write down several phone numbers on a piece of paper. And if possible, include an out-of-state contact who doesn't live in California in case you need to need to leave the state for any reason.

The United States Geological Survey (a government agency) says it's a good idea to have some emergency supplies at home if you're injured or unable to leave the area. It might include:

  • A fire extinguisher
  • Adequate supplies of medications that you or family members are taking
  • Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
  • First-aid kit and handbook
  • Flashlights with extra bulbs and batteries
  • Portable radio with extra batteries
  • Water for each family member for at least two weeks (allow at least 1 gallon per person per day) and purification tablets or chlorine bleach to purify drinking water from other sources
  • Canned and packaged foods, enough for several days, and mechanical can opener. Extra food for pets if necessary
  • Camp stove or barbecue to cook on outdoors (store fuel out of the reach of children)
  • Waterproof, heavy-duty plastic bags for waste disposal.

How To Stay Safe During An Earthquake.

If you are inside when an earthquake starts, stay indoors. According to the CDC, you are less likely to be injured by falling debris if you stay where you are. Step away from glass, hanging objects, bookcases, or other large furniture that could fall over. Keep an eye out for falling items like bricks from fireplaces and chimneys, light fixtures, wall hangings, high shelves, and cabinets with swinging doors.

Drop to the floor and take cover under (or near) a sturdy object. Tables, beds, and desks are good examples. Then, try to shield your face from falling debris and broken glass. Do not let go of the sturdy object until the shaking has fully stopped. 

If you are outside when an earthquake starts, stay outside and move away from buildings, power lines, and anything else that could fall over. According to the CDC, "The area near the outside walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades, and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to collapse. Stay away from this danger zone."

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