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The Earthquake Safety & Advice Guide

What are Earthquakes?

An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the Earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the Earth’s surface. Ground shaking from earthquakes can collapse buildings and bridges; disrupt gas, electric, and phone service; and sometimes trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and huge, destructive ocean waves (tsunamis). Learn whether earthquakes are a risk in your area by contacting your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter.

Why Talk about Earthquakes?

For hundreds of millions of years, the forces of plate tectonics have shaped the Earth as the huge plates that form the Earth’s surface move slowly over, under, and past each other. Sometimes the movement is gradual. Where earthquakes have occurred in the past, they will happen again.

No matter where you live or work, you are exposed to natural hazards. Many of these hazards may be known to you, but possibly not well understood. For instance, earthquakes occur without warning and affect everyone in a region within seconds. But the amount of shaking depends on many factors such as magnitude, location, the type of soil under your building, the type of building you’re in, etc. Certainly some parts of the world have more earthquake risk than others, but you may travel to these areas on vacation, for work, or for school.


The Before, During & After Rule

By understanding your risk, you can take the right steps to minimize or avoid injuries, damage, and long-term financial consequences.

The earthquake safety & advice guide provides information and resources to help everyone who lives, works, or travels in Taiwan to get prepared to survive and recover quickly, by following the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety:

Before an earthquake

  • Learn how to turn on and shut off gas, tap-water, and electricity valves.
  • Keep hanging objects firmly secured; lock up the cabinet tight.
  • Do not place weighty objects on high shelves; secure heavy furnishings.
  • Secure a shelter in advance.
  • Fire equipment should be examined regularly.

During an earthquake

  • Keep calm and immediately shut off electricity, gas, and tap-water.
  • Protect yourself from falling objects such as signs or potted plants.
  • If you are in the suburbs, avoid cliffs, riversides, and shores, and move to a clear area.
  • Do not try to rush out of a building; do not use elevators.

After an earthquake

  • Check if people near you are hurt and give necessary first aid.
  • Turn on the radio for emergency instructions and disaster reports.
  • Better to wear shoes or boots to avoid being hurt by broken window glass or other sharp objects.
  • Check the structure of the house and quickly leave there if it is damaged; during evacuation, take the stairs.
  • Stay away from beaches and ports in case tsunami should happen.
  • Be aware of aftershocks.

Steps to take to prepare for an Earthquake:

Step 1 – Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing movable items. Earthquake shaking can move almost anything.

Earthquake Safety Steps

Step 2 – Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency.

Earthquake Safety Steps

Step 3 – Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations. Everyone should have a personal disaster supply kit.

Earthquake Safety Steps

Step 4 – Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance.

Earthquake Safety Steps
In addition to completing the 4 Prepare safety Steps, do the following:

  • Pick “safe places” in each room of your home–a safe place could be under a sturdy table or desk or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Practice drop, cover, and hold-on in each safe place–drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm.
  • Get training–take a first aid class from your local
  • Red Cross chapter.
  • Discuss earthquakes with your family–everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing earthquakes ahead of time helps reduce fear and anxiety and lets everyone know how to respond.

Steps to take during an Earthquake:

Step 5 – Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items. Earthquake shaking can move almost anything.

Earthquake Safety Steps

Step 6 – Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency.

Earthquake Safety Steps
During the next big earthquake, and immediately after, is when your level of preparedness will make a difference in how you and others survive and can respond to emergencies. The following steps describe what to do during earthquake shaking and immediately after. Step 5 provides information for how to protect yourself in different locations and scenarios during an earthquake. Step 6 describes what to do next to prevent further injuries or damage.

  • Drop, cover, and hold on! Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place.
  • If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are.
  • If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines. Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking has stopped.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
  • If you are in a coastal area, move to higher ground.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris that could be loosened by the earthquake.

Steps to take after an Earthquake?

Step 7 – Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community. In the days and weeks that follow a big earthquake, your family, friends and neighbors can come together to start the process of recovery.

Safety Step 7
Once you have dealt with urgent and immediate needs after an earthquake, continue to follow the plan you prepared in advance. Aftershocks will continue to happen for several weeks after major earthquakes. Some may be large enough to cause additional damage. Always be ready to drop, cover, and hold on.

  • Check yourself for injuries.
  • Protect yourself from further danger by putting on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and work gloves.
  • Continue listening to local radio for information.
  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company, police or fire department.
  • Use flashlights to examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows.
  • Inspect foundations for cracks and make sure the building is not in danger of collapsing.
  • Inspect your home for damage.
  • Check for gas leaks. Get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
  • Help neighbors who may require special assistance.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, or other flammable liquids immediately.
  • Expect aftershocks.
  • Use the telephone for emergency calls only.

Following a major disaster, communication will be an important step in your recovery efforts. Turn on your portable radio for information and safety advisories. If your home is damaged, contact your insurance agent right away to begin your claims process.

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