Once that shaking stops, you may believe the earthquake is over. But many times, it’s just the beginning. There may be aftershocks, or the main earthquake may not have even happened yet. To stay safe, here are a few things you should do before going back to your normal routine.
Stay alert for aftershocks. According to experts, aftershocks can continue for weeks, months, or even years. Typically, the larger the mainshock, the larger and more numerous the aftershocks and the longer they will continue.1
Make sure you and your family are unharmed. If anyone is injured, provide first aid, as best you can and contact the authorities in case of medical emergency.
Monitor local news and radio for emergency information. Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency since you could tie up the lines needed for emergency response.
Do not light matches or turn on light switches until you’re sure there are no gas leaks or flammable liquids spilled.
Use a flashlight to check utilities for damage including water, gas, and electric lines. Turn off all appliances and the main electrical circuit breaker, if it’s safe to do. If you smell gas or notice a broken water line, turn off the service at the main valve.
Look for structural damage. If your home is damaged, get out (or don’t go in) until you can have it checked by authorities or a structural engineer. Don’t go near chimneys, as they can fall over unexpectedly.
Clean up broken glass or non-hazardous spills. That will help prevent injuries from cuts or slips. If there is a hazardous spill, leave it for the professionals to clean up.
Stay away from beaches. Tsunamis sometimes hit after the ground has stopped shaking.
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If you’re indoors, don’t go outside. Stay away from windows and doors.
If you’re outdoors, stay in an open area, away from power lines or anything that might fall.