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How to Survive an Earthquake If you are in a Building

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earthquake1 Steady yourself. Hold onto a solid object or get to the floor so that you do not fall.

2 Drop, cover, and hold. This is the national standard for earthquake safety in the United States. [2] The alternate advice is to get next to a sturdy piece of furniture so that if a wall falls, it will create a crawl space in which you can survive. This “triangle of life” method, however, is inconsistent with earthquake research and not recommended by the American Red Cross, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California Response, and Earthquake Country Alliance.
3 If you are in a building that collapses while you are in it, you have to first make sure you and the people around you are alright. A common way to do this is to call their name to get in contact with them. Then find out which people in your group have injuries, and how extensive they are. If it is something you can treat inside the building, like a scratch, it can wait. If you can, call your local police department  to tell them where you are.

Also smell for gas, whether it is natural gas, or the kind you put in your car. If you smell gas, try to find the location of the leak using your hearing and sight. Talk to the people in your group to see which one is closest to the leak, and have them tell you how bad it is. Do the same with any fires or if you see or smell smoke. Do not approach any fires.

If you can see light, try to go towards it. If there is any rubble standing vertically in some way that you think you’ll need to move to get to the outside, test it first, to see if it’s load-bearing. First, knock your knuckles against the object. If it doesn’t move, push or gently nudge. If it doesn’t move, It is probably load-bearing, and therefore you shouldn’t mess with it.

If it DOES move, however, it is safe to proceed. When you get out of the building, help everyone else out as fast as possible, without injuring anybody any further. Count each person to see if everyone you were with inside has escaped with you. If not, don’t go back into the building to get them. An aftershock may occur at any time and trap you inside. It is better to wait for your local law enforcement or EMS to come and take care of any person still in the building. Once outside, go to a safe place away from tall buildings, trees, power lines, telephone poles, and semi truck trailers. In an aftershock a trailer such as one on the back of a semi truck could easily be tipped over onto anybody next to it.

It is better to find a place on the top of a hill or flat area. If sinkholes are common in your location, watch for any signs of a sinkhole opening up around you.
4 Cover your head and neck. Use your hands and arms.
Your upper body should also be covered because that is what is holding your neck which is holding your head.
If you have any respiratory disease, make sure that you cover your head with a t-shirt or bandana, until all the debris and dust has settled. Inhaled dirty air is not good for your lungs.
5Do not move. If it is safe to do so, stay where you are for a minute or two, until you are sure the shaking has stopped.
Remember, aftershocks are possible at any time, and likely after a big earthquake. Aftershocks can range from being felt by only a few people to knocking down entire cities. They can collapse weakened buildings, especially mobile homes.
6Slowly get out of the house. See what is left, and meet your family outside. Like as in the case of fire, it is suggested that you meet in an earthquake-safe place prearranged by your family, such as a nearby baseball diamond or park. Government help should be on the way soon.
7 Inspect your house for anything that might be in a dangerous condition. Glass fragments, the smell of gas, or damaged electrical appliances are examples of hazards.
Do not turn electrical devices on or off. Simply switching a light switch could create a spark, which in turn could electrocute you and start a fire. These fires can be more deadly because they are near electrical cords.
8 Check for any fires. You should check your house or the building you are in for any fire. If you need water to put one out, you can get water from a water heater, but be careful, the water is hot.
Cleanup dangerous spills. Gasoline could be fatal if it explodes or touches something flammable. If you only have paper towels, use several layers of them because gasoline is poisonous and is very hard to wash off. Covering gasoline spills with some shovelfuls of sand is a good idea, but remember to mark the area, by putting up even a handwritten sign that says ‘Gasoline spill here’ (tape it to a chair or even a nearby car, for example).
Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away until a police officer, a plumber, a fire fighter, or relief worker inspects the area and pronounces it safe to enter.
Do not drink water from the sink since it may not be pure. The sewage will be damaged in major earthquakes, so do not flush the toilet. Instead, shut off the water system from the main valve (have a plumber do this job for you if you don’t know where the main valve is). Make sure that you plug up drains from sinks and bathtubs to prevent any sewage back-flow.
Inspect the chimney for any damage before using your fireplace. Invisible damage in these places can lead to fire.
Inspect utilities.
Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbour’s home. Remember, if you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional, so only turn off the gas if you believe that gas lines are damaged or gas is leaking.
Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water from bottled water or by melting ice cubes.
9 Open your cabinets cautiously. The items may fall on you if you open the doors quickly. Inspect the damage, use caution with glass bottles, they may be cracked and leaking. Use extra caution with alcohol, acids, cleaners, or anything that is toxic to the human body. Containers may be leaking or tipped over.

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