Three Ways to Prepare for an Earthquake
By Sherry Allred  ​emergency preparedness

With large earthquakes becoming more common and more destructive, it may be a good idea to become aware of and prepared for an earthquake. This is especially true if you live in an earthquake zone, where earthquakes are likely to occur. There are three basic ways you can prepare your home in case an earthquake were to strike.

1. SECURE YOUR HOME. Before an earthquake may occur, you should secure things within your house to keep them from falling onto anyone, or breaking and causing injury to bare feet. Secure your mirrors, pictures, and other wall hangings by hanging them on two screws rather than a single nail. You can attach wire to your wall hangings and wrap the wire around the screws for further security. Secure putty to the bottoms of the frames to prevent them from banging and crashing against walls during a shake-up. Another option for pictures is to purchase earthquake-resistant hooks. Bolt bookshelves to their adjoining walls and fasten water heaters with straps that can be bolted to the foundation or wall. Use earthquake putty or museum wax for frames and vases on tabletops. Secure televisions, computers, curio cabinets, and any large furniture. Move beds away from windows, and avoid placing shelves or large items above any beds. Remove glass or heavy items from upper shelves and relocate them onto lower shelves, especially in the kitchen. Install kitchen latches onto cupboards where glass plates and cups may be stored.

2. STORE FOOD, WATER, AND EMERGENCY SUPPLIES. After any natural disaster, you may need first-aid supplies, flashlights with plenty of fresh batteries, water, and food to sustain you for one or more days. The hurricane that pounded Puerto Rico in September of 2017, left the residents without power, communication, pure water, and shopping accessibility, especially crippling those who were not prepared. It will be months before all power and communication to cell towers will be restored, and for some, the only light in the home is produced from a single flashlight. Roads were washed away or blocked by debris and the people have to shelter-in-place for an unknown amount of time. An earthquake may or may not produce as devastating results as the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico, yet being prepared with food and water and basic emergency supplies will help to give relief to those in need and sustain you until things can be restored again.

3. PREPARE FOR HAZARDS AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE. Often times, it isn't the initial disaster that causes the most harm. During hurricanes, the death toll usually rises following the high-speed winds when flooding occurs. After an earthquake, the risk of injury increases with unstable structures, and power lines dangling dangerously from their poles. Following an earthquake, avoid going into collapsed buildings or near electrical wires that have fallen down. In your home, check for damage to the electrical wiring. If you see any damage, shut off the power at the main control box. Also, check for gas leaks. If you smell gas, shut off the main gas valve. Learn NOW where these main shut-offs are located and how to turn them off, so you can be prepared ahead of time if an earthquake were to occur. It will be hard to turn off valves if you don't know where they are. Stay away from chimneys afterwards, as they can easily be weakened in an earthquake. Beware of glass and other items that may cut your feet if you were to walk barefoot across the floor. It is a good idea to have shoes or slippers readily available in places you can easily access them following an earthquake. Avoid opening closets and cabinets that may have items that have shifted during an earthquake that could possibly fall on you. Listen to the radio to hear any important instructions or information. Beware of the possibility of aftershocks that can sometimes be just as damaging as the main earthquake.

Certainly, preparing ahead of time will never prevent an earthquake, but it may help prevent injury and further hazards as well as sustain you until any damage is repaired. Being prepared can give you peace of mind that you are doing everything possible to keep you and your family safe and secure.

​Emergency Preparedness

Preparing for Times of Disaster
By Sherry Allred ​ emergency preparedness

Whether you live in the western united states and have suffered fires and drought, or the eastern coast and endured hurricanes and flooding, chances are you may experience one or more natural disasters in your lifetime. Being prepared won't take away the trial, but it will help you to recover as well as sustain you until damage can be restored again. There are three basic ways you can prepare for a disaster.

1. SECURE YOUR HOME. You may not necessarily notice the heavy vases stored above the kitchen cabinets, bookshelves packed with books in the den, or the glass mirror in the hallway as being potential hazards in your home, but during flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes, these items could cause injury. Securing heavy furniture to the walls could prevent them from tipping over onto someone. Strapping your water heater to the foundation of the house will keep it from falling and the pipes from breaking. If the water heater is damaged, gas could leak and valuable water could empty out. You can take inventory of every room in your home to see how to storm-proof and keep your family safe. Remove heavy items from upper shelves and place them on lower shelves. Install latches on cabinets containing glassware, and secure pictures, mirrors, and other wall hangings with earthquake-proof hooks. Keep shoes or slippers near your bed. If a disaster were to occur during the night, you may need to access them immediately to protect your feet from possible broken glass or sharp metal. Also, keep a flashlight in an accessible place in every room to utilize as a light source.

2. STORE FOOD, WATER, AND EMERGENCY SUPPLIES. If a disaster happens, it is likely that grocery stores will be out of commission for a while. You may have to rely, for a time, on the food you have within your home. Store the food your family likes and keep a few extra treats on hand to help bring comfort during a time of chaos or uncertainty. Store water in case your water supply becomes contaminated. Store enough for drinking as well as hygiene and cooking needs. Additionally, have first-aid supplies on hand as well as flashlights and batteries, extra blankets, cash, extra toiletries and feminine supplies, a manual can-opener, and any other basic needs you may have as you shelter-in-place. It would be a good idea to have a wrench to turn off any utilities such as power and gas.

3. HAVE A FAMILY PLAN. Whether you draw up a fire escape plan, or write out a strategy for evacuating, create a family plan for any type of disasters. Review with your family the possible scenarios in each case of an emergency. Establish well-thought-out solutions that will keep your family safe and help each other to make contact with one another in case you are ever to be separated. Have a meeting place to go, or a main contact person, such as grandparents or out-of-state family members to connect with to report your individual status. Remember to keep the pets in mind, and talk about your family plan often with family members. Above all, believe that if you and your family are prepared, it will make difficult times become more endurable.

3 Things to Know About Earthquakes
By Sherry Allred emergency preparedness

Earthquakes can happen any time and without warning. Did you know that earthquakes that occur near the surface of the earth are more destructive than the ones that happen deep within the earth's crust? Or that the HYPOCENTER is where the shaking actually happens in the earth, and the point directly above the earthquake's focus on the surface is known as the EPICENTER? Being educated about an earthquake may one day save your life, since understanding the terminology and properties of an earthquake can help you be better prepared if perchance you were ever to be in one. Following are three basic components that can help improve your knowledge of, and possibly help you escape the destruction of, an earthquake.

1. PLATE BOUNDARIES. The earth's crust is divided into large moving plates called TECTONIC PLATES. The lines where these plates meet are called PLATE BOUNDARIES. Most of earthquakes occur along plate boundaries. The largest is the Pacific Plate that surrounds the Pacific Ocean. It is known as the RING OF FIRE and includes the majority (more than 75%) of volcanic eruptions. The Ring of Fire isn't actually a complete ring, only forming a horseshoe shape beginning with the Tonga-Kormadec Trench that lies northeast of the New Zealand islands and wrapping around to the Peru-Chili Trench in South America and the South Sandwich Trench just east of the South Sandwich Islands. The earth's plates are always moving, bumping into each other. Whenever these plates move towards each other with enough pressure, and slip past one another, an earthquake occurs.

2. MAGNITUDE. The magnitude is how the power or intensity of an earthquake is measured based on the motion recorded by an earthquake-detecting instrument called a SEISMOGRAPH. The higher the magnitude, the more intense an earthquake is. For instance, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 is going to be much larger and, therefore, more destructive than one measuring at 2.1. The size of an earthquake can vary, depending on many factors including the geography and the depth of the quake. Usually a large earthquake also produces many smaller earthquakes following the larger sequence. These smaller quakes are called AFTERSHOCKS, and can continue for weeks, months, and even years after the main earthquake. The larger an earthquake measures, the more aftershocks can be produced and can linger for longer periods of time.

3. INJURY. The harm that can come from an earthquake is most often not from the initial earthquake itself but from natural and man-made structures that can collapse on people during the shaking. If you happen to be outside during an earthquake, move away from buildings,power lines, and anything else that could fall on you. If you are inside a building, get under a desk or table and protect your head from any falling debris. You can also stand against an interior wall for protection. Avoid exterior walls, windows, anything containing glass, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances. If you are driving, pull off to the side of the road, out of traffic, and stop. Do not park under bridges or overpasses, and avoid trees, power lines, and any other potential hazards. If you are in the mountains, beware of the possibility of a landslide. If you are near an ocean, you may be in danger of a tsunami and should get to higher ground.

Earthquakes occur on a daily basis, yet most of them are rarely felt because they are so small. They can't yet be predicted, which makes them all the more deadly in the case of larger earthquakes. If you live in an earthquake zone, where earthquakes occur often, it is a good idea to learn more and be prepared in case you were ever to experience one. It may be the difference between injury or even survival.

Earthquakes can happen any place, any time, and without warning. Preparing ahead of time can help you possibly avoid injury and minimize property damage.

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