Emergency Preparedness & Risk Mitigation
- Go through your house and look for areas that you can potentially seek shelter under such as a solid timber table so that when an earthquake begins you can Drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with your arms and crawl to your “safe place” and Hold on.
- Look for objects that could become dangerous projectiles during an earthquake (e.g. book shelves, mirrors and light fixtures) and secure them.
- Store heavier and breakable items in lower cupboards in your kitchen.
- Practice the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” technique until you’re good at it. In a real earthquake you may have only seconds to react.
- Pack an emergency evacuation bag (bug out bag) in case you must leave in the event your house becomes structurally unsafe to live in. This bag should include emergency food, water rations, other essentials, survival items, precious items and important documents. Keep this bag as near to your front door or bedroom door as possible.
- It’s a good idea to keep a hard hat (which are quite inexpensive – approx $5 AUD from hardware stores) for each member of your family as well as P2 masks, goggles and leather riggers gloves.
- Store emergency water and rations enough to last for at least a week.
- Have an emergency communications plan so that you can stay connected with loved ones and friends
- When choosing a home or business building, check whether it is earthquake resistant as per local building protocols.
- If you wear prescription reading glasses keep a pair secured next to your bed because if a quake happens during the night you will need to see where you’re going.
- Keep a spare set of keys to all doors in your house and any outbuildings on your property in a secure place next to your bed.
- It’s good to get into a habit of keeping a pair of shoes and a torch next to your bed as well. Lot’s of injuries inflicted by earthquakes are often cuts and grazes caused by stepping on sharp debris.
- Know how to shut off utilities to your home (e.g. water, gas and power). You should teach everyone in your household how to do this.
- Inspect your house for any major cracks in the walls, foundation and ceiling as they can become worse in an earthquake. If possible have them fixed now before it’s too late.
- Trim back tree branches on your property that may be hanging over power lines.
- Broken gas and power lines can cause fires and can be very difficult to get under control. You should have at least 2-3 foam or dry chemical powder (DCP) fire extinguishers in your house.
- Know the locations of your neighbours’ utility shutoff valves in case you need to help them out. If their houses go up in flames, chances are yours will too.
- Get into the habit of keeping your car filled at all times. The 1/2 tank mark should be your ‘zero mark’. So when your tank reaches half, head to the service station and fill it up.
- Keep an emergency kit inside your car and a bailout bag for at work. You should have basic survival items, ID, maps, spare clothes, some food and water rations, medical gear and other personal necessities (e.g. hygiene stuff and medications) in these kits.
- Know multiple routes to home, work, school and throughout your town. In a severe earthquake, buildings will collapse blocking whole roads off with debris so you will need to find a detour around these places to reach home.
What to do when an earthquake happens:
Inside a building:
DROP, COVER, HOLD – Drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with your arms to protect those areas from falling debris, hold onto something solid until the shaking stops.
- Stay away from trees, buildings and other structures.
- If in a vehicle, STAY INSIDE IT!
Aftershocks usually follow after the main earthquake so you should be alert and stay inside your “refuge” until they’re over. Listen to advice from emergency services and authorities on AM/FM radio.
Above all, remember to stay calm and level headed!