And then things start to rumble, really shake. Everything around you -- your TV, your bookcase, everything that can be moved -- is now your enemy. The ceiling can fall.
There are very few disasters as unpredictable as an earthquake. The good news is that if you're well-prepared, you and those you care for can usually come out unhurt. SecretsofSurvival.com reveals how to prepare for and be ready for an earthquake: What survival supplies to have on hand and how to escape quake damage once shaking gets violent.
1.) A part of global tectonics, a process that often changes the elevation of the land and its morphology;
2.) The result of volcanic activity, such as the quakes that shook Washington state weeks before Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in 1980;
3.) Induced by Man (high yield explosives, industrial drilling, etc).
The earth is not really one solid mass, but is in fact made up of several immense plates that are always pushing against one another. It's a bit like being on a crowded subway; the plates making up the earth are so tightly pushed together that there is always a struggle for room. Eventually, this pressure becomes so great between certain plates that they finally move, violently shifting their position. That is a tectonic earthquake. These constant struggles and shiftings of the earth are global tectonics. These are usually the most devastating of all quakes.
Earthquakes can occur in an area before, during, and after a volcanic eruption, and are the result of active forces connected with the eruption, but are not the cause of the volcanic activity itself.
Man-induced earthquakes are often caused by such things as the deep-sea drilling that has occurred in recent years. Such activity deep into the earth can sometimes increase pressure on the plates, making a tense situation much worse.
The American Red Cross came up with the drop, cover and hold method. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm and hold on. Teach children the method as well, and practice with your family at least twice a year.
If however you feel safer under the doorway, it's still certainly a good option.
However, probabilities can be calculated for potential future earthquakes. For example, scientists estimate that over the next 30 years there's a 67% probability of a major earthquake occurring in the San Francisco Bay area. Scientists often focus their efforts on the long-term mitigation of earthquake hazards by helping to improve the safety of structures rather than creating short-term predictions.
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But it's possible the change in animal behavior may be caused by other events. Also, the behavior is not consistent; sometimes earthquakes occur with no previous behavioral change.
The plates are moving horizontally past one another, so California is not going to fall into the ocean. However, Los Angeles and San Francisco could one day be adjacent to one another, if enough time was allowed to elapse.
To paraphrase the American Red Cross: 'It's not the shaking that hurts. It's the stuff that falls on your head': Collapsing walls, flying glass and falling objects cause most quake-related injuries and deaths.
The Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommend you self-equip with everything on their list -- you don't want to fight the crowd at Home Depot, Lowes, or another local hardware store after an earthquake has struck. (We include several items from their list as well as make a few additional recommendations of our own.)
Other than an atomic bomb, not much is likely to damage a steel drum, which means any food, emergency water, and emergency electronics stored inside are likely to make it through a major earthquake just fine. Place small electronics in wool socks (so they don't bang against each other) and wrap any larger electronics (like a radio or battery operated lantern) in a survival blanket to help protect components from any rough shaking. (This survival blanket is intended to double as an emergency blanket after a quake has struck). It is made of 80% wool, military grade, and even when wet can help keep a person warm and out of the danger zone of hypothermia.
Emergency water may be obtained from water heaters, melted ice cubes, toilet tanks (the back part of toilets where the mechanism is located, as long as their are no chemical cleaners present in the bowl), and even canned vegetables.
Avoid drinking water from swimming pools or especially spas - it may have too many chemicals in it to be safe.
a) *Fire extinguisher.
b) *Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water pipes.
c) *Utility knife.
d) *Bic lighters and wooden matches in a waterproof container.
e) *Emergency fire starter (anything from an emergency candle to dried tinder in a waterproof container to drier lint or cotton balls that have been dabbed in Vaseline -- there are several emergency fire starters to choose from; having more than one helps ensure you can get a fire going with no problem).
f) *Flashlights with extra bulbs and batteries. Also battery-operated lanterns for the evening hours with low power settings to extend battery life.
g) *Portable radio with extra batteries.
h) *Non-electric, hand-held can opener. Also, a bottle opener and non-breakable eating and drinking utensils.
i) *Extra food for pets if necessary.
j) *Camp stove or barbecue to cook outdoors (store fuel out of the reach of children). This will be a portable stove using propane, butane or charcoal. Note: Use of such stoves should not take place until it is determined that there is no gas leak in the area. Also, charcoal should only be burned outdoors; use of charcoal indoors will lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
k) *Waterproof, heavy-duty plastic bags, a shovel and toilet paper. Also, bring disinfectant and hand sanitizer. Sewer lines may have been disrupted during the earthquake. Remember that 30 gallon steel drum mentioned above? That drum can double as emergency waste storage for any human waste (or you can bury it in a temporary hole dug on your property, sealed in waterproof heavy-duty plastic bags). *Due to the build up of methane gas, you will want to use several small plastic bags if you choose to store waste in that steel drum, and then use the drum to hold these individual bags, but do not seal the top of the drum with the bolt-on lid due to the explosion risk methane poses. In large quantities, sewage must be vented and methane fumes allowed to escape.
l) *Nylon rope or military spec paracord and duct tape.
m) *Portable fire escape ladder for homes/apartments with multiple floors.
*Telephone numbers of police, fire, and doctor. Also, make sure you have access to a phone.
Copies of important papers should be kept in a fireproof container or a safe deposit box with a key you always carry.
*A small amount of money.
- If you are outside, get into the open - away from buildings, power lines, chimneys, and anything else that might fall on you.
- If you are driving, quickly but carefully move your car as far out of traffic as possible and stop. Do not stop on or under a bridge or overpass or under trees, light posts, power lines, or signs. Stay inside your car until the shaking stops.
- When you resume driving, stay away from breaks in the pavement, fallen rocks, bumps in the road at bridge or ramp approaches, and anything else that doesn't look 'right'.
- If you are in a mountainous area watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees, and other debris that could be loosened by quakes.
- Do not use matches, lighters, camp stoves, barbecues, electrical equipment or any appliances until you are sure there are no gas leaks. They may create a spark that could ignite leaking gas and cause an explosion.
- Do not use your telephone, except for a medical or fire emergency. You could tie up the lines needed for emergency response. If an emergency occurs and the phone doesn't work, send someone for help.
- Do not expect firefighters, police or paramedics to definitely be there for you. They may not be available.
- Remember, the contents of your home may be damaged and can be dangerous. Quakes can make light fixtures fall, and bookcases and television sets topple over even after the shaking is over.
- Check for injuries to yourself and those around you; give first aid where you can. If a person is bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound and use clean gauze, or cloth if available. If a person is not breathing administer CPR. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in further danger of injury. Cover the wounded with blankets to keep them warm. Seek medical help for serious injuries.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals. A bag of industrial absorbent granules (or simply just cat litter) is a quick way to contain a spill for easy clean up with a broom and dust pan.
- Open closet and cupboard doors cautiously.
- Inspect the entire length of chimneys carefully for damage. Unnoticed cracks could lead to a fire. Also inspect your gas, power and sewer lines. If your utilities are damaged, fix them or get out until you can have someone else do so. Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
- Remember to check neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
- Stay out of buildings known to be damaged. Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Only drive if there's an emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- After the earthquake, brace overhead light fixtures. Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes.
*Gas leaks - If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noises, 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 neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional. Therefore, shut off the main gas valve only if you suspect a leak because of broken pipes or odor. Also, don't light your kitchen stove if you suspect a gas leak.
*Damaged electrical wiring - 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. Do not touch downed or damaged power lines or any objects in contact with them.
*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 by melting ice cubes.
*Downed or damaged chimneys - Approach chimneys with caution after a quake. Don't use a damaged chimney; it could start fire or let poisonous gases into your house.
*Fallen Items - Beware of items tumbling off shelves when you open doors of closets and cupboards.
*Food and Water Supplies - Do not eat or drink anything from open containers near shattered glass. If power is off, plan meals to use up foods that will spoil quickly or frozen foods (food in the freezer should be good for at least a couple of days).
A final word, about your pets.
The behavior of pets may change dramatically after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard.
Pets may not be allowed into shelters for health and space reasons. Prepare an emergency pen for pets in the home that includes a 3-day supply of dry food and a large container of water.
If you live in a region of the world that could experience a major earthquake at any time during the coming years, earthquake safety and survival is an important subject to go over with your loved ones in advance of an earthquake; don't wait until after.
A major earthquake can take the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at a time, as history has shown over the centuries. Today is the day to be ready.