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Earthquakes
One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible repercussions. An earthquake is a sudden movement of the earth, caused by the abrupt release of strain that has accumulated over a long time. If the earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause many deaths and injuries and extensive property damage.
Know the Terms:

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an earthquake hazard:
Earthquake: A sudden slipping or movement of a portion of the earthís crust accompanied and followed by a series of vibrations
Aftershock: An earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earthquake
Fault: The fracture across which dislocation has occurred during an earthquake. The slippage may range from less than an inch to more than 10 yards
Epicenter: The place on the earthís surface directly above the point on the fault where the earthquake ruptures began. Once fault slippage begins, it expands along the fault during the earthquake and can extend hundreds of miles before stopping
Seismic Waves: Vibrations that travel outward from the earthquake fault at speeds of several miles per second. Although fault slippage directly under a structure can cause considerable damage, the vibrations of seismic waves cause most of the destruction during earthquakes
Magnitude: The amount of energy released during an earthquake, which is computed from the amplitude of the seismic waves. Each whole number on the scale represents an increase of about 30 times more energy released than the previous whole number represents. Therefore, an earthquake measuring 6.0 is about 30 times more powerful than one measuring 5.0.

Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before an Earthquake?

The following are things you can do to protect your surroundings in the event of an earthquake:

Get professional help to repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas lines and inflexible utility connections

Bolt down and secure to the wall studs your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances

Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves

Fasten shelves, mirrors and large picture frames to walls

Store bottled foods, glass, china and other breakables on low shelves or in cabinets that fasten shut

Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation

Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks

Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall

Hold earthquake drills with your family members

Drop, cover and hold on tight


What do I do During an Earthquake?

Minimize your movements during an earthquake to a few steps to a nearby safe place. Stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If you are:

Indoors:

Take cover under a sturdy desk, table or bench, against an inside wall and hold on

If there isnít a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building

Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall

Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside

Most injuries during earthquakes occur when people are hit by falling objects when entering into or exiting from buildings

Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on

DO NOT use the elevators


Outdoors:

Stay there

Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires


In a moving vehicle:

Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle

Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires

Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped, watching for road and bridge damage


Trapped under debris:

Do not light a match

Do not move about or kick up dust

Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing

Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you

Use a whistle if one is available

Shout only as a last resort - shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust


What do I do After an Earthquake?

Be prepared for aftershocks that can cause more damage

Open cabinets cautiously while watching out for falling items

Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire or relief organizations