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After an earthquake
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What to do After an Earthquake

After an earthquake, be prepared for additional earth movements called "aftershocks." Most of the aftershocks are smaller than the main earthquake, but some may be large enough to cause additional damage or bring down weakened structures.

Be sure to monitor your batter-operated radio and/or TV because if the initial earthquake is big enough, fires, chemical spills, landslides, dam breaks, and tidal waves ma occur.


Check for injuries. If there are injured people around you, do not attempt to move injured or unconscious people unless they are in immediate danger from live electrical wires, flooding, or other hazards. It is important to only move people if they are in immanent danger because internal injuries may not be evident, but may be serious or life-threatening.

If someone has stopped breathing, call for medical or first aid assistance immediately and begin CPR if you are trained to do so. Stop a bleeding injury by applying direct pressure to the wound. If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location.
Checking Utilities

Check power lines

An earthquake may break gas, electrical, and water lines. If you smell gas: (1) open windows; (2) shut off the main gas valve; (3) do not turn any electrical appliances or lights on or off; (4) go outside; (5) report the leak to authorities; and (6) do not reenter the building until a utility official says it is safe to do so.

  • If electric wiring is shorting out, shut off the electric current at the main box.
  • If water pipes are damaged, shut off the supply at the main valve.

Other Precautions

  • Have chimneys inspected for cracks and damage. Do not use the fireplace if the chimney has any damage.
  • Check to see if sewage lines are intact before using bathrooms or plumbing.
  • Do not touch downed powerlines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the authorities.
  • Immediately clean up spilled medicines, drugs, flammable liquids, and other potentially hazardous materials.
  • Stay off all telephones except to report an emergency. Replace telephone receivers that may have been knocked off by the earthquake.
  • Stay away from damaged areas. Your presence could hamper relief efforts, and you could endanger yourself.
  • Cooperate fully with public safety officials. Respond to requests for volunteer assistance from police, fire fighters, emergency management officials, and relief organizations, but do not go into damaged areas unless assistance has been requested.

Evacuating Your Home

If you must evacuate you home:

  • Post a message, in a prearranged location known only to family members, indicating where you have gone.
  • Confine pets to the safest location possible and make sure they have plenty of food and water. Pets will not be allowed in designated public shelters.
  • Take vital documents (wills, insurance policies, etc.), emergency supplies, and extra medications with you.

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