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While earthquakes can happen anywhere without warning, southern California is at a higher risk than most with about 10,000 earthquakes occurring each year! The majority of local earthquakes are so minor they cannot be felt, however, a handful are strong enough to cause serious destruction. If you feel a rumble, the walls start to shake, and you realize an earthquake is starting, do you know what to do? Inaction in these moments might put you at greater risk!
How to prepare:
- Identify a same place in every room of your home- under a sturdy desk or against an inside wall where nothing can fall on you.
- Practice "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" at least twice a year, especially with young family members.
- Take a first-aid and CPR class and keep your training current.
- Get trained in how to use a fire extinguisher.
- Prepare an emergency supply kit including food, water, flashlights, a radio, fresh batteries, first aid supplies, and cash. Learn how to build one.
- Eliminate hazards:
- Bolt bookcases, china cabinets, and other tall furniture with wall studs
- Install strong latches on all cupboards
- Strap your water heater to the wall
- Sign up for VC Alert, Ventura County's Emergency Notification System.
- Register for Earthquake Warning California, the country's first publicly available warning system that could give residents crucial seconds to take cover before shaking begins. Earthquake Warning California is managed by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and uses ground motion sensors from across the state to detect earthquakes before humans can feel them. Download the MyShake App today! The MyShake App is available in the Apple App and Google Play stores.
What to do during an earthquake
By knowing how to drop, cover, and hold on during an earthquake, you will be better prepared and can help reduce the likelihood of injury to yourself and others in your vicinity:
- DROP: As soon as you notice the first signs of an earthquake, drop onto your hands and knees. If you remain standing, it could be powerful enough to knock you down and cause serious injury. By dropping to the floor and staying low throughout the duration of the event, you will be in a more stable, safe position. From a dropped position, you can crawl to cover.
- COVER: To further protect yourself from falling objects, you must take cover! First, cover your head and neck with one arm while you seek out more protective shelter. If there is a sturdy desk or table nearby, crawl underneath for cover. If no such furniture is accessible, crawl next to an interior wall and get away from windows. Regardless of access to more protection, it's vital you remain low and protect your head and vital organs.
- HOLD ON: After the initial jolt of an earthquake, there is still a chance aftershocks may occur and items may still fall. It is important to hold on until you are no longer in immediate danger. Furniture may shift during an earthquake, so hold onto it with one hand and if the table or desk you're under moves, be prepared to move with it. If you aren't sheltered under furniture, use both arms to hold your head and neck.
What to do when you can't "Drop, Cover, & Hold On"
The random nature of earthquakes means that one very well could strike while you are away from home. Here's what to do in a variety of situations:
- In bed: Stay in bed and lie down. Hold onto your head and neck with both hands and cover your head with a pillow for additional protection.
- Outdoors: If you can do so safely, head to an open, clear area free of hazards like trees, street signs, building, and vehicles. You should still drop, cover, and hold on!
- While driving: Stay inside your vehicle and when safe to do so, pull to the side of the road and activate your parking break. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, and other roadway dangers.
- At the beach: Drop, cover, and hold on! Once shaking reduces, move inward or to higher ground in case of a tsunami.