For more information on this or any other hazard, contact the NSA Mid-South Emergency Management Department at 901-874-5749 or 901-874-5119.
What to Do Before an Earthquake
Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. Repairing in foundations, anchoring overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling, and following local seismic building standards, will help reduce the impact of earthquakes. Click here for an earthquake preparedness checklist.
What to Do During an Earthquake
Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
• Drop to the ground; take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and hold on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
• Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
• Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
• Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway.
• Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
• Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
• DO NOT use the elevators.
• Stay there.
• Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
If in a moving vehicle:
• Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
• Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
If trapped under debris:
• Do not light a match.
• Do not move about or kick up dust.
• Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing
What to do after and Earthquake
• Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
• Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.
• Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
• Open cabinets cautiously. Be aware of objects that can fall off shelves
• Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless police, fire, or relief organizations have specifically requested your assistance. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
• Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
• Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
• Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
• Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
• Inspect utilities. Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, 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, a professional must turn it back on.
• Look for electrical system damage. 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.
• Check for 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.