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Campus Preparedness > Emergency Procedures

Earthquake Safety Tips

Here are preparations you (and your family) can use to minimize the risk you will face when an earthquake strikes. (Source: Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner)

  • Be sure that water heaters and gas appliances are fastened down. Make sure wall-mounted televisions, stereos, bookcases, artwork and hanging plants are securely fastened and cannot be shaken loose.
  • Be alert for breakable items that are in danger of falling if your home begins to shake. Be especially alert to glass things. Broken glass on the floor accounts for many of the injuries suffered in the aftermath of an earthquake, and glass-filled carpets remain hazardous long after the danger of the quake has passed. Keep an old pair of slippers or loose shoes under your bed and if you are awakened by a quake, remember to put them on before you stand up.
  • If you are shopping for earthquake insurance, ask the company for help in locating repairs and other features that could minimize quake damage and make your home safer.
  • Make sure you have a family Emergency Plan that tells family members what to do in the event of an emergency. Have a meeting spot outside your home where you gather once the emergency has passed. Set up a relative out of state beforehand to serve as a point of contact for you and for distant relatives who want to check on you. By designating that person in advance, you may only need to make one telephone call, not several. Think ahead: Keep flashlight batteries and candles on hand. Make sure you have a small portable radio. At least one family member should have had first-aid training.
  • If you are inside a building when a quake hits, stay inside and get under a heavy table or desk, or stand inside an interior doorway. Stay away from windows. Do not evacuate the building until the shaking stops.
  • If you are outside, get away from buildings and power lines, and remember that stone facings are shaken loose and then cast outward, not just straight down, from upper stories.
  • If you are in a car, stop safely away from large trees or structures, and stay inside the vehicle.
  • All family members should know how to turn off utilities (gas, electricity and water) in the home. Don’t light candles until gas lines are checked. In the aftermath of an earthquake, check all parts of your home, especially utility lines, chimneys and sewage connections — before trying to use them.
  • After the quake, don’t tie up phone lines except to report emergencies. It is not necessary to report an earthquake to police. Help your neighbors. Remember that you need food and water even for the short term. Bring your family together and make sure you have some shelter for the immediate future, even if it is simply protection from rain and cold. Do not go sightseeing. Listen to the radio for emergency instructions. Remember that aftershocks normally follow large earthquakes and prepare for them, too.
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