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*** Disaster Preparedness Safety Alert Bulletin ***

Earthquake Safety Awareness



With a recent 6.0 major earthquake this weekend centered in Napa California and other smaller quakes in August in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Tennessee and Oklahoma it is a good time for reminder of what to do during an earthquake.


Federal, state, and local emergency management experts and other official preparedness organizations all agree that "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes. Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning, and they can occur at any time of the year, day or night.   PROTECT YOURSELF. SPREAD THE WORD.

Official rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of earthquakes and other disasters around the world continue to advocate use of the internationally recognized "Drop, Cover and Hold On" protocol to protect lives during earthquakes:

DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),

Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and

HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

If you are unable to Drop, Cover, and Hold On: If you have difficulty getting safely to the floor on your own, get as low as possible, protect our head and neck, and move away from windows or other items that can fall on you.


In a wheelchair: Lock your wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops. Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.


In bed:  If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting 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.


In a high-rise:  Drop, Cover, and Hold On.  Avoid windows and other hazards.  Do not use elevators.  Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.


In a store: When Shaking starts, Drop Cover and Hold On.  A shopping cart or getting inside clothing racks can provide some protection. If you must move to get away from heavy items on high shelves, drop to the ground first and crawl only the shortest distance necessary. Whenever you enter any retail store, take a moment to look around:  What is above and around you that could move or fall during an earthquake?  Then use your best judgment to stay safe.


If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table.

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 earth’s crust, accompanied and followed by a series of vibrations.

The place on the earth’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.

Seismic Waves
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.

These are general guidelines for most situations. Depending on where you are (in bed, driving, in a theater, etc.), you might take other actions, as described in Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions (PDF | RTF).

The main point is to not try to move but to immediately protect yourself as best as possible where you are. Earthquakes occur without any warning and may be so violent that you cannot run or crawl; you therefore will most likely be knocked to the ground where you happen to be. You will never know if the initial jolt will turn out to be start of the big one. You should Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately!

In addition, studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes in the U.S. over the last several decades indicate that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building. Drop, Cover, and Hold On offers the best overall level of protection in most situations.

As with anything, practice makes perfect. To be ready to protect yourself immediately when the ground begins to shake, practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On as children do in school at least once each year.

What NOT to do:

DO NOT get in a doorway!. In modern houses and buildings, doorways are no safer, and they do not protect you from flying or falling objects. Get under a table instead!

DO NOT run outside! Trying to run in an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by debris or glass. Running outside is especially dangerous, as glass, bricks, or other building components may be falling. You are much safer to stay inside and get under a table.

DO NOT believe the so-called "triangle of life"! In recent years, an e-mail has circulated which has recommends potentially life threatening actions , and the source has been discredited by leading experts..

Earthquake Safety Tips: How to Survive an Earthquake     

A little knowledge and a few   precautionary measures can enormously increase your chances of surviving an   earthquake - or any other type of hazard. The keys are education and   preparing in advance. The earthquake safety tips below will not make you an   expert. However, they could make a life-saving difference if you find   yourself in an earthquake situation.


Before the Earthquake:

  • Learn how to survive during the ground motion. This is        described in the "During the Earthquake" section below. The        earthquake safety tips there will prepare you for the fast action needed        - most earthquakes are over in seconds so knowing what to do        instinctively is very important.
  • Teach all members of your family about earthquake safety.        This includes: 1) the actions you should take when an earthquake occurs,        2) the safe places in a room such as under a strong desk, along interior        walls, and 3) places to avoid such as near windows, large mirrors,        hanging objects, heavy furniture and fireplaces.       
  • Stock up on emergency supplies. These include: battery        operated radio (and extra batteries), flashlights (and extra batteries),        first aid kit, bottled water, two weeks food and medical supplies,        blankets, cooking fuel, tools needed to turn off your gas, water and        electric utilities.
  • Arrange your home for safety: Store heavy objects on        lower shelves and store breakable objects in cabinets with latched        doors. Don't hang heavy mirrors or pictures above where people        frequently sit or sleep.
  • Anchor heavy appliances and furniture such as water        heaters, refrigerators and bookcases.
  • Store flammable liquids away from potential ignition        sources such as water heaters, stoves and furnaces.       
  • Get Educated. Learn what to do during an earthquake (see        below). Then you will be ready for the fast action needed. Make sure        that all members of your family have this important education.       
  • Learn where the main turn-offs are for your water, gas        and electricity. Know how to turn them off and the location of any        needed tools.

     During the Earthquake:

  • If you are indoors, stay there. Quickly move to a safe        location in the room such as under a strong desk, a strong table, or        along an interior wall. The goal is to protect you from falling objects        and be located near the structural strong points of the room. Avoid        taking cover near windows, large mirrors, hanging objects, heavy        furniture, heavy appliances or fireplaces.
  • If you are cooking, turn off the stove and take cover.       
  • If you are outdoors, move to an open area where falling        objects are unlikely to strike you. Move away from buildings, power        lines and trees.
  • If you are driving, slow down smoothly and stop on the        side of the road. Avoid stopping on or under bridges and overpasses, or        under power lines, trees and large signs. Stay in your car.
  • Move away from large entertainment centers, book shelves        or other large items that could topple over on top of you.
  • If you are in a car slow down and drive to a clear place        from trees, bridges, or large structures. Stay in your car until the        shaking stops.


After the Earthquake:     

  • Check        for injuries; attend to injuries if needed, help ensure the safety of        people around you.
  • Check        for damage. If your building is badly damaged you should leave it until        it has been inspected by a safety professional.
  • Be        prepared for aftershocks they can be almost as powerful as the initial        earthquake and can cause damage to already weaken structures.
  • If        you smell or hear a gas leak, get everyone outside and open windows and        doors. If you can do it safely, turn off the gas at the meter. Report        the leak to the Gas Company and fire department. Do not use any open        flames or electrical appliances because a tiny spark could ignite the        gas.
  • Do        not attempt to use an elevator.
  • If        the power is out, unplug major appliances to prevent possible damage        when the power is turned back on. If you see sparks, frayed wires, or        smell hot insulation turn off electricity at the main fuse box or        breaker. If you will have to step in water to turn off the electricity        you should call a professional to turn it off for you.
  • Beware        of falling debris as you exit and for open or exposed electrical power        lines.
  • If        in a car proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid        roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under   debris

  • Do        not light a match. There may be gas lines broken and cause a fire or        explosion to happen.
  • Do        not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover        your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap        on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is        available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale        dangerous amounts of dust.


Create a Disaster-Preparedness Plan.          


Will everyone in your household know how to   react during and after strong earthquake shaking? To be ready for the quakes   , it is important that your family have a disaster-preparedness plan. Hold   occasional earthquake "drills" to practice your plan. Share your   disaster plan with your neighbors and discuss key points with babysitters,   house sitters, and house guests. Your plan should include most of the   following

Plan NOW to be safe during   an earthquake: In a strong   earthquake, individual survival skills will be crucial.

  • Practice        “drop, cover, and hold on.”
  • Identify        safe spots in every room, such as under sturdy desks and tables.
  • Learn        how to protect yourself no matter where you are when an earthquake        strikes.

Plan NOW to respond after an   earthquake: Doing the   following will enable you to help your family and others after a strong   quake.

  • Keep        shoes and a working flashlight next to each bed.
  • Teach        everyone in your household to use emergency whistles and (or) to knock 3        times repeatedly if trapped. Rescuers searching collapsed buildings will        be listening for sounds.
  • Identify        the needs of household members and neighbors with special requirements        or situations, such as use of a wheelchair, walking aids, special diets,        or medication.
  • Take        a Red Cross first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training        course. Learn who in your neighborhood is trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Know        the locations of utility shutoffs and keep needed tools nearby. Know how        to turn off the gas, water, and electricity to your home. Only turn off        the gas if you smell or hear leaking gas.
  • Get        training from your local fire department in how to properly use a fire        extinguisher.
  • Install        smoke alarms and test them monthly. Change the battery once a year, or        sooner if the alarm emits a “chirping” sound (low-battery signal).

Plan NOW to communicate and   recover after an earthquake: Don’t wait until the next earthquake to do the following.  

  • Locate        a safe place outside of your home for your family to meet after the        shaking stops.
  • Establish        an out-of-area contact person who can be called by everyone in the        household to relay information.
  • Provide        all family members with a list of important contact phone numbers.
  • Determine        where you might live if your home cannot be occupied after an earthquake        or other disaster (ask friends or relatives).
  • Learn        about the earthquake plan developed by your children's school or day        care, and keep your children's school emergency release cards current.
  • Keep        copies of insurance policies, financial records, and other essential        documents in a secure location, such as with your household disaster        kit. Include a household inventory (a list and photos or video of your belongings).       

Can you live without the   services you rely on?  

  •   Water   may be in short supply.
  •   Natural   gas and electric power may be out for days or weeks.
  •   Garbage   and sewage services may be interrupted.
  •   Telephone,   Internet, cell phone, and wireless communications may be overloaded or   unavailable.
  •   Mail   service may be disrupted or delayed.
  •   Gasoline   may be in short supply, and rationing may be necessary.
  •   Bank   operations may be disrupted, limiting access to cash, ATMs, or online   banking.
  •   Grocery,   drug, and other retail stores may be closed or unable to restock shelves.



Maps of Earthquake hazard areas of New Mexico, Texas and US active faults.

Create Disaster Kits: Personal Disaster Kits

Everyone in your family should have their own personal disaster kits. These kits are collections of supplies they may need when a quake strikes. Personalize these kits and keep them where they can easily be reached—at home, in the car, at work or school. A backpack or other small bag is best for these kits so that they can be easily carried in an evacuation. Include the following items:

  • Medications,      a list of prescriptions, copies of medical insurance cards, doctors’ names      and contact information.
  • Medical      consent forms for dependents.
  • First aid      kit and handbook.
  • Spare      eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies, and sturdy shoes
  • Bottled      water.
  • Whistle      (to alert rescuers to your location).
  • Emergency      cash.
  • Personal      identification
  • List of      emergency contact phone numbers.
  • Snack      foods high in calories.
  • Emergency      lighting—light sticks and (or) a working flashlight with extra batteries      and light bulbs (hand-powered flashlights are also available).
  • Comfort      items, such as games, crayons, writing materials, and teddy bears.

Household Disaster Kit Electrical, water, transportation, and other vital systems can be disrupted for several days after a large earthquake. Emergency response agencies and hospitals will likely be overwhelmed and unable to provide you with immediate assistance. To help your family cope after a strong earthquake, store a household disaster kit in an easily accessible location, preferably outdoors (not in your garage). This kit, which complements your personal disaster kits, should be in a large watertight container that can be easily moved and should hold at least a 3- to 5-day supply of the following items:

  • Drinking      water (minimum one gallon per person per day). Don’t forget water for your      pets as well.
  • First aid      supplies, medications, and essential hygiene items, such as soap,      toothpaste, and toilet paper.
  • Emergency      lighting—light sticks and (or) a working flashlight with extra batteries      and light bulbs (hand-powered flashlights are also available).
  • A hand-cranked      or battery-operated radio (and spare batteries).
  • Canned and      packaged foods and cooking utensils, including a manual can opener.
  • Items to      protect you from the elements, such as warm clothing, sturdy shoes, extra      socks, blankets, and perhaps even a tent.
  • Heavy-duty      plastic bags for waste and to serve other uses, such as tarps and rain      ponchos.
  • Work      gloves and protective goggles.
  • Pet food      and pet restraints.
  • Copies of      vital documents, such as insurance policies and personal identification.

NOTE: Replace perishable items like water, food, medications, and batteries on a yearly basis.

An Earthquake can strike anytime without notice. Always better to be prepared. Safety First, Safety Always!


Information and maps provided by the USGS, FEMA, Earthquake Country Alliances, Earthquake Monitor Assoc., DHS, NM Dept. of Public Safety, Texas Dept. of Public Safety, ARC, Curry County LEPC, and


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