Recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria show that it’s never too early to get ready for one. The simple steps you take now will help protect you and your family when the next round of shaking starts. They will also keep everyone safe in case of aftershocks, emergencies, or a bigger disaster.
1. Find a safe spot
As part of preparing for an earthquake, go through each room and figure out where to go when the ground starts to shake. Contrary to what most people think, the closest doorway is not the safest place because you could get hit by a swinging door, broken glass, or falling objects.
It’s safer to take refuge in a room’s interior, far from any glass, shelves, or dangling decorations that could break or fall. Casey Brennan, senior director of social impact and advocacy at AAA Northern California, Nevada, and Utah, says that if you can, you should take cover under strong furniture like a solid wood or metal table.
Don’t move to a different room or run outside. You’ll probably put yourself in more danger. One of the most dangerous places to be is right next to a building, because things fall off of them all the time. Think about the fact that some earthquakes are so strong that you might not be able to walk or even crawl. If you’re in bed, don’t move. Instead, roll over onto your stomach and put a pillow over your head and neck to protect yourself.
Keep a bag with hard-soled shoes, a flashlight with extra batteries, work gloves, and a whistle fastened to the bottom of the bed. (These useful things might also come in handy in other kinds of emergencies.)
Margaret Vinci, who runs earthquake programs at the Seismological Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, says that the first thing to do after an earthquake is to put on shoes (to avoid cutting your feet or other injuries) and clothes to stay safe.