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Earthquakes: Mitigation and safety tips

Tips to prepare for natural disasters like Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Tsunamis etc...

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Earthquakes: Mitigation and safety tips

Postby itsadisaster » Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:45 pm

I'm sorry .. thought I'd already posted this months ago. Let's put Earthquake safety data, resources, links and suggestions in this thread...

Our planet’s surface is actually made up of slowly-moving sections called tectonic plates that can build up friction or stress in the crust as they creep around. An earthquake occurs when this built up stress is suddenly released and transmitted to the surface of the earth by earthquake waves (called seismic waves). Earthquakes can cause buildings and bridges to collapse, down telephone and power lines, and result in fires, explosions and landslides. Earthquakes can also cause huge ocean waves, called tsunamis [soo-nah’-mees], which travel long distances over water until they hit coastal areas.

There are millions of earthquakes, or seismic tremors, every year around the world. Most are too small to be felt, but when they happen, you will feel shaking, quickly followed by a rolling motion that can rotate up, down, and sideways that lasts from a few seconds to several minutes.

Did you know...

...although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant throughout this century and, according to USGS records, have actually seemed to decrease in recent years?!

...in 1931, there were about 350 seismograph stations operating in the world; and today, there are more that 4,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by telex, computer and satellite?! This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed USGS and other seismological centers to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years.

...the world's deadliest earthquake on record hit central China in 1557 killing an estimated 830,000 people?!

...scientists believe the Cascadia Subduction zone along the Northwest coastline could produce mega-quakes similar to the 9.0 that rocked Indonesia in 2004.

...per USGS, the Red Cross and many global officials, the "Triangle of Life" is a misguided idea about the best location a person should try to occupy during an earthquake - esp in industrialized nations due to stricter and safer building codes. Drop, Cover and Hold (described below) is the best recommendation.

...every state (and country for that matter) has earthquakes, but 2 states with the smallest number of earthquakes is North Dakota and Florida. The most active are obviously Alaska and California.


BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE:

Learn the buzzwords - Learn the terms / words used with earthquakes...
Earthquake - a sudden slipping of the earth’s crust that causes a series of vibrations
Aftershock - usually not as strong as earthquake but can occur for hours, days, months or years after a main quake
Fault - area of weakness where two sections of crust have separated
Subduction zone - where 2 tectonic plates collide and one plate dives or “subducts” underneath the other
Epicenter - area of the earth’s surface directly above the crust that caused the quake
Seismic Waves - vibrations that travel from the center of the earthquake to the surface
Magnitude - used to define how much energy was released (A Richter Scale is the device used to measure this energy on a scale from 0-10 ... each whole number equals an increase of about 30 times the energy released meaning a 5.0 is about 30 times stronger than a 4.0.)
Liquifaction - when water-saturated ground loses strength and acts as a muddy fluid

Reduce risks - Look for things that could be hazardous and secure loose stuff...
-- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves and fasten shelves to walls, if possible.
-- Use nylon straps or L-braces to secure cabinets, bookcases and other tall furniture to the wall.
-- Secure heavy appliances like water heaters, refrigerators, etc. using bands of perforated steel (plumber’s tape).
-- Use buckles or safety straps to secure computers, TVs, stereos and other equipment to tabletops.
-- Use earthquake or florist putty to tack down glassware, heirlooms and figurines.
-- Hang heavy pictures and mirrors away from beds.
-- Store bottled foods, glass, china and other breakables on low shelves or in cabinets that can fasten shut.
-- Repair faulty electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.

Consider retrofitting your home - There are options to retrofit or reinforce your home’s foundation and frame available from reputable contractors who follow strict building codes. Other earthquake-safety measures include installing flexible gas lines and automatic gas shutoff valves. Changes to gas lines and plumbing in your house must be done by a licensed contractor who will ensure that the work is done correctly and according to code. This is important for your safety.

Learn to shut off - Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves -- ask local utilities for instructions.

Do drills - Hold earthquake drills with your family to learn what to do...
DROP - drop down to the floor
COVER - get under heavy desk or table or against inside wall protecting head and neck with your arms
HOLD ON - grab something sturdy, be ready to move with it and hold on until shaking stops!

Make a plan - Develop a Family Emergency Plan (e.g. establish meeting places, list of emergency contact #s, out of state contact person, etc) and Disaster Supplies Kits/BOBs

Check policies - Review your insurance policies. Some damage may be covered even without specific earthquake insurance.


DURING AN EARTHQUAKE:

Stay calm & be aware - Watch for falling objects and find a safe spot! Realize most injuries happen when people are hit by things when running IN or OUT of buildings.

IF INDOORS – Stay inside and ...
-- Avoid danger zones like glass, windows, heavy things that can fall over or down on you.
-- DUCK, COVER and HOLD until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover face and head with arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

IF IN A HIGH-RISE BUILDING – Stay on the same floor!
-- Move away from outside walls and windows.
-- Stay on the same floor - you may not have to evacuate.
-- Realize electricity may go out and alarms and sprinkler systems may go on.
-- DO NOT use the elevators!

IF OUTDOORS - Stay outside and, if possible, move away from buildings, signs, trees, power lines and street lights.

IF IN A MOVING VEHICLE - Stop as quickly and safely as you can!
-- Try not to stop near buildings, trees, overpasses, or power lines and stay in vehicle until shaking stops.
-- Watch for road and bridge damage and be ready for aftershocks once you drive again.

If you are trapped in an area:
light - use a flashlight (if you have one) – do not use matches or lighters in case of gas leaks
be still - try to stay still so you won’t kick up dust
breathing - cover your mouth with a piece of clothing
make noise - tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear you (shouting may cause you to inhale a lot of dust)


AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE:

Aftershocks - Usually not as strong but can cause more damage to weakened structures and may continue for days, months or even years.

Injuries - Check yourself and people around you for injuries - do not try to move seriously injured people unless they are in danger. If you must move a person who is passed out keep their head and neck still and call for help, if possible.

Light - Never use candles, matches or lighters since there might be gas leaks. Use flashlights or battery powered lanterns.

Check chimney - First check from a distance to see if chimney looks normal and have a professional check it if it looks strange. Check out the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s homeowner tips at http://www.csia.org

Clean up - Any flammable liquids (bleaches, gasoline, etc.) should be cleaned up immediately.

Inspect - Check all utility lines and appliances for damage:
smell gas or hear hissing - open a window and leave quickly. Shut off main valve outside, if possible, and call a professional to turn it back on when it’s safe
electrical damage - switch off power at main fuse box or circuit breaker
water pipes - shut off water supply at the main valve
toilets- do not use until you know sewage lines are okay

Water - If water is cut off or contaminated then use water from your Disaster Supplies Kit or other clean water sources.

Power - If you use a generator, keep it outside and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Phones - Keep calls to a minimum to report emergencies since most lines will be down.

Listen - Keep up on news reports for the latest information.

Things to avoid:
going out - try to stay off the roads to reduce risk
stay away - unless emergency crew or First Responders ask for your help stay away from damaged areas
downed power wires

Tsunami - If you live near the coast, a tsunami can crash into the shorelines so listen for warnings by local authorities.

RED or GREEN sign in window – After a disaster, Volunteers and Emergency Service personnel will be going door-to-door to check on people. By placing a sign in your window that faces the street near the door, you can let them know if you need them to STOP HERE or MOVE ON. Either use a piece of RED or GREEN construction paper or draw a big RED or GREEN “X” (using a crayon or marker) on a piece of paper and
tape it in the window.
-- RED means STOP HERE!
-- GREEN means EVERYTHING IS OKAY…MOVE ON!
-- Nothing in the window would also mean STOP HERE!

What to wear – Use sturdy work boots and gloves.

Check outside first - Before you go inside, walk around outside to check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage.

Things to check - In addition to above, some other things you want to do include…
-- Check for cracks in the roof, foundation and chimneys.
-- Watch out for loose boards and slippery floors.
-- Check appliances after turning off electricity at main fuse and, if wet, unplug and let them dry out. Call a professional to check them before using.
-- Check water and sewage system and, if pipes are damaged, turn off main water valve.
-- Clean up any spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, etc.
-- Open cabinets carefully since things may fall out.
-- Look for valuable items (jewelry, etc.) and protect them.
-- Try to patch up holes, windows and doors to protect home from further damage.
-- Check with local authorities about water since it could be contaminated. Wells should be pumped out and the water tested before using, too.
-- Throw out food, makeup and medicines that may have been exposed to flood waters and check refrigerated foods to see if they are spoiled. If frozen foods have ice crystals in them then okay to refreeze.

Take & share pics - If you have a camera phone, take shots of the damage to your home or place of business since it may take days before an adjuster gets there. It can also be a way to share updates with neighbors who aren’t able to get to the site. The photos could also be uploaded to First Responders and/or media to help prioritize the response efforts.

Call a professional - If you have any doubts about the safety of your home, contact a professional inspector.


Above from IT'S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? book (proceeds benefit APN)


For more info and to monitor local and global earthquake activity...

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/

ShakeOut.org http://www.shakeout.org

National Earthquake Information Center http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/neic/

Southern California Earthquake Center http://www.scec.org/education/

St Louis Univ Earthquake Center http://www.eas.slu.edu/Earthquake_Center/

Arkansas Center for Earthquake Education and Technology Transfer http://quake.ualr.edu/

QuakeSmart.org (mitigation tips for businesses) http://www.quakesmart.org/

Institute for Business and Home Safety Earthquake page http://www.disastersafety.org/main.asp?id=1017
Be Aware... Be Prepared... and Have a Plan! Download a free 58-pg ebook portion of IT'S A DISASTER! ...and what are YOU gonna do about it? with tips about hurricanes, floods, evacuations, wildfires, kits + more
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Re: Earthquakes

Postby Crusis » Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:39 pm

Absolutely awesome post! That Cascadia fault in Washington.. well, off the coast is one of the greatest unknown threats in America. When it rips, if it fully lets go, it will inundate Oregon, Washington, and the Canadian West coast with tidal waves. If it lets loose full force, Seattle will make Katrina look like a paradise. There will be fire, death, rotting bodies, and disease. Add to that a small risk that the Earthquake could unbottle Mt. Rainier or other ring of fire volcanoes and you have the recipe for a mega disaster.

There is a scientist who looks locally as salt marshes and determined that the fault pops about every 400-600 years. I believe the next rip is a bit off if the clock behaves, but you never know. According to geologists, it's been 300 years since the last one.

Here is a page to information on it.

http://www.pnsn.org/HAZARDS/CASCADIA/cascadia_zone.html

Here is the same site with volcano information.

http://www.pnsn.org/HAZARDS/volcanoes.html
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Re: Earthquakes

Postby Alaska Rose » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:35 am

Also, usually an earthquake sounds like a semi truck rumbling toward you and then it hits and you know what you were hearing, LOL. It will help you with the drop portion of the drop, tuck and roll.
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Re: Earthquakes

Postby bobzilla » Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:17 pm

I hope this link is useful,it covers all Emergency and Disaster Information
http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/index2.php ... a&lang=eng
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Re: Earthquakes

Postby itsadisaster » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:57 pm

yup - love that site bobzilla - thx! Found this the other day .. check out a short animation of the cumulative global earthquake occurrences from 1960 through 1995. Earthquakes are shown as yellow dots. http://solidearth.jpl.nasa.gov/MEDIA/eq_map.mpg

Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio. Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology

If above link doesn't work for you, it's listed with several other cool animations at http://solidearth.jpl.nasa.gov/rp.html
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Re: Earthquakes

Postby bobzilla » Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:03 am

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Re: Earthquakes

Postby JayJay » Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:14 am

I'm in Ky..I sort of began watching this every day...

http://aslwww.cr.usgs.gov/Seismic_Data/heli2.shtml
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