Earthquakes (also called seismic activity) are the shaking, rolling or sudden shock of the earth’s surface. They happen along cracks (called fault lines) in the rocks below the earth’s surface. An aftershock is a smaller earthquake that follows the main shock or previous earthquake.
If you’re new to earthquakes or want to prepare your children for what to do if an earthquake occurs, the following information from Ready.gov and FEMA can get you started in the right direction. (Want more info? Visit the USGS Earthquakes section.)
If you’re inside the house
DROP to the ground.
Take COVER under a sturdy table or other heavy furniture. At the very least, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch near an inside wall.
HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
STAY AWAY from windows, glass, lighting fixtures or furniture that could fall – like bookcases.
STAY INSIDE! Do not use elevators and don’t leave the house.
If you’re outside the house
MOVE AWAY from buildings, streetlights and wires that could fall and hurt you.
Don’t run back into a building. KEEP IN THE OPEN until the earthquake stops.
If you’re trapped under debris
COVER YOUR MOUTH with your shirt.
Do not scream – you could breathe in dust. Instead, TAP ON A PIPE OR WALL so rescuers can find you.
After the earthquake is over
EXPECT AFTERSHOCKS. They are usually not as strong but can cause damage.
OPEN CABINETS CAREFULLY. Objects that have moved could fall on you.
PROTECT YOURSELF. Wear long pants, long sleeves and shoes to protect your skin from getting scratched by broken objects.
TEXT RATHER THAN CALL. This will keep the phone lines free for emergency workers. Also, texting may work even if cell service is down. But if it’s a life-threatening situation, try calling first.
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