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Before an Earthquake – Prepare:
Earthquakes can happen anywhere without warning. Know how to be safe. If you feel an earthquake or aftershock, "drop, cover and hold on" until the shaking stops.
- Do a hazard hunt: Walk through your home or office and identify and secure or relocate shaking hazards. Secure shelves and water heaters to walls. Don't hang heavy objects over beds, sofas or chairs where you sit. Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves. Place valuable objects in secure locations.
- Make an emergency supply kit: Include a flashlight, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, batteries, whistle, medication and other items for specific needs.
- Create a family emergency communications plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated.
- Consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. A standard homeowner's policy does not cover earthquake damage.
- Download the Southern Nevada Community Preparedness App for emergency alerts: https://tinyurl.com/y3w86lx3.
Get more on earthquake information. See these links:
During an Earthquake - Drop, Cover and Hold On!
If you feel an earthquake or aftershock, "drop, cover and hold on" until the shaking stops.
- Drop down onto your knees so the earthquake doesn't knock you down. Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris. Hold on to any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops.
- The best protection during an earthquake is to get under heavy furniture such as a sturdy desk, table or bench, or against an inside wall away from windows, outside doors and walls. Avoid danger zones where glass or heavy things can fall on you.
- Stay indoors until you're sure it's safe to exit. Do not run outside. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at door exits and along exterior walls.
- Stay away from windows and doorways. Broken glass can cause injuries. Doorways are no stronger than any other part of a structure and do not provide protection from falling objects.
- If you are in a wheelchair or use another mobility device, it's recommended that you lock the wheels, bend over and remain seated until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, or a book.
- If you are in bed, turn face down and cover your head and neck with a pillow.
- If you are in a vehicle, pull over and stop safely in a clear spot. Stay in your car until the shaking stops. Watch for road damage when you drive again.
- In a high-rise building, use stairs rather than an elevator in case of aftershocks, power outages or other damage. Expect fire alarms and sprinklers to activate during a quake even if there is no fire.
- If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights and utility lines. Drop to the ground.
After an Earthquake - Stay Safe:
If an earthquake has just happened there can be serious hazards such as damage to the building, leaking gas and water lines, or downed power lines. Emergency workers prioritize their response efforts to address life-safety issues in affected areas.
- Expect aftershocks to follow the main shock of an earthquake. Each time you feel one, drop to the ground, cover your head to protect yourself from falling objects and hold still.
- Check yourself to see if you are hurt and help others if you have training. Learn how to be the Help Until Help Arrives: https://community.fema.gov/until-help-arrives
- Look quickly for damage in and around your home; get everyone out if your home is unsafe. Beware of any debris that can fall on you. If you are in a damaged building, go outside and quickly move away from the building.
- If you are trapped, protect your mouth, nose and eyes from dust. Use a flashlight if you have one – don't use matches or lighters in case of gas leaks. Send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting so that rescuers can locate you. Shout as a last resort.
- Look for and extinguish small fires and eliminate any obvious fire hazards. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake. Clean up spilled medications, bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.
- Check the telephones in your home or workplace to see if you can get a dial tone. Make brief calls to report life-threatening emergencies. Telephone lines are frequently overwhelmed in disasters. They need to be clear for emergency calls to get through. Text messages may be more reliable than phone calls.
- Listen to local news reports via battery-operated radio, TV, social media, and cell phone text alerts for emergency information and instructions. If you were away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so. Register on the Red Cross "Safe and Well" website so people will know you are okay: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/
- Wear protective clothing. Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects.
- Be careful when driving after an earthquake; anticipate traffic light outages.
- Beware of fallen power lines, broken gas lines and sewer and waterline damage. Report damage to professionals.
- Stay out of damaged areas and damaged buildings. Hazards caused by earthquakes are often difficult to see and you could be easily injured.
- Use extreme caution when entering buildings. Watch for loose plaster, drywall and ceilings that could fall. Examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to check for damage.
- Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights to inspect your home. Kerosene lanterns, torches, candles and matches may tip over or ignite flammables inside.
- Avoid smoking inside buildings. Smoking in confined areas can cause fires.
- Open closet and cabinet doors cautiously. Contents may have shifted during the shaking of an earthquake and could fall.
- If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. From a safe place, call Southwest Gas (702) 365-1111 or call 9-1-1. If you suspect a gas leak, do not light a match, start or stop an engine, use a phone, switch on or off lights or do anything that might create a spark. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
- Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires or if you smell burning 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, contact an electrician for advice.
- Check for sewage and water line 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. You can obtain safe water from undamaged water heaters.
- Inspect the entire length of chimneys carefully for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to fire or injury from falling debris during an aftershock. Cracks in chimneys can be the cause of a fire years later.
- Keep animals under your direct control. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard. The behavior of pets may change dramatically after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive.
- Take pictures of damage to your house and personal property for insurance claims.