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American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter Offers Ways to Get Prepared After Today's South Bay Earthquakes
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By Brittani Polivka, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
January 7, 2010

As demonstrated this morning in the South Bay, earthquakes can strike at any time and without warning. While today’s events were fairly minor, a larger quake could knock out many of the services Bay Area residents count on every day including electricity, gas, water, communications and transportation.

In order to ensure our community is ready for the next large earthquake, each person must take steps to become personally prepared. To help get started, the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter has put together the following, easy-to-follow guide.

Make a Plan
Planning ahead is the first step to ensure your household is prepared for an earthquake.

  • Develop a Communication Plan: It’s often easier to make a long-distance call after a disaster, so identify an out-of area contact who will serve as a central connection point. Have everyone report their status to this contact who will pass the information along to others. Let your out-of-area contact know your communication plan. For a smaller event, make sure to have a local emergency contact on hand.
  • Decide Where to Meet After a Disaster: Choose a place near home in case of sudden emergency. Choose a second place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Also know the evacuation sites at work, school or day care.
  • Pick Safe Places in Each Room: A safe place could be under a piece of sturdy furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Determine Escape Routes: Find two ways out of each room in your home and know your neighborhood evacuation routes.
  • Plan for Your Pets: With the exception of service animals, pets are not allowed in disaster shelters, so prepare a list of family members, friends, boarding facilities, veterinarians and pet-friendly hotels to shelter your pets in an emergency. See Plan for Pets for more information.
  • Personalize Your Plan: If you have special needs, make sure to arrange for a network of neighbors, friends or relatives to check on you in the event of an emergency.
  • Review and Practice Your Plan

Get a Kit
Store enough supplies for everyone in your household for at least three days. Include any necessary items for pets, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Prepare kits for your home, workplace and car.

  • Non-perishable Food: Pack items such as energy bars, canned soup or peanut butter.
  • One Gallon of Water Per Person Per Day
  • First Aid Kit and Medications
  • Flashlight, Battery-operated or Crank Radio, Essential Tools and Maps: Include batteries, wrench to shut off the gas in case of a leak, can opener, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape and garbage bags.
  • Clothing and Sturdy Shoes
  • Personal Items and Sanitary Supplies: Pack important documents, hygiene supplies and comfort items such as books and toys.
  • Cash in Small Denominations
  • Emergency Contact Information

Be Informed
Learn how to protect yourself and get training to help others before, during and after an earthquake.

 If you are INDOORS when an earthquake begins:
  • Stay indoors and DROP, COVER and HOLD ON
  • Drop to the floor and take cover under a piece of heavy furniture, while protecting your head with one arm. With the other arm, hold on to the furniture and move with it.
  • If you are not around any sturdy furniture, crouch with your head back against an interior wall and cover your head and neck.
  • If you are in a wheelchair, lock the break and cover your head and neck.
  • If you are in bed, stay in bed, pull the sheets to protect your body from debris and cover your head and neck with your pillow.
  • Trying to leave the building puts you at greater risk of injury. Most earthquake injuries are sustained when people try to move during the shaking or from falling debris once outside.
 If you are OUTDOORS when an earthquake begins:
  • Move into the open, away from buildings, street lights, trees and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
  • If you are near a building, get inside quickly and DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
  • If you are in your car, safely pull over, put the car in park and cover your head and neck.

After the Earthquake

Check For Injuries:
First check yourself for injuries then assist others based on your level of first aid training. Only call emergency services if there is a life-threatening situation.
Listen to the Radio: Bay Area residents can tune into 740 AM or 88.5 FM. Follow instructions from local officials. Evacuate if told to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.

Examine Your Space:
Check around you for dangerous conditions such as fires, downed power lines and structural damage. Shut off gas only if you suspect a leak or smell gas. Stay out of damaged buildings or leave if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals. Return home only if authorities say it is safe.
Put Your Plan into Action:
Secure your children, pets and loved ones. Call your out-of-area contact. Then keep the phones lines clear for emergencies. Check on your neighbors and make sure to assist the elderly and disabled persons.

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