Earthquakes are like rude house guests. They show up when you least expect them, trash your place and leave without picking up. Like rude guests, they are no laugher matter. While earthquakes are unpredictable, there are things you can do to reduce the consequences. If you live in an area that is vulnerable to earthquakes, here are some handy suggestions:

  • Make sure your house is adequately secured to the foundation.
  • Take a first aid class.
  • Install fire extinguishers within easy access.
  • Bolt bookcases and other tall furniture to wall studs.
  • Install strong latches on kitchen cabinets.
  • Strap the water heater to wall studs.
  • Purchase a first aid kit.
  • Keep canned food and a can opener.
  • Keep at least three gallons of water per person on hand.
  • Have sleeping bags.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Cache infant, elderly, or disabled family members' necessities.
  • Keep instructions for how to turn off gas, electricity, and water. (Have a professional turn natural gas service back on.)

If an actual earthquake occurs:

  1. Drop, cover and hold on. Drop under a sturdy table, hold on, and protect your eyes.
  2. If there's no table nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  3. If your are in bed, roll out of bed onto the floor and wedge yourself against the bedframe with a pillow over your head.
  4. If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines and drop to the ground.
  5. If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place. Stay in the car until the shaking stops.
  6. Expect aftershocks.
  7. Use the telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies.
  8. Teach your children these techniques.

Steering clear of earthquake zones is the most practical long-term advice to avoid disastrous consequences. But since so many ignore the obvious, buy earthquake insurance, be prepared when a whole lotta shakin' starts and hold on for a wild ride.

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