Earthquake Preparedness Step 2: Identify Safe Places both Indoors and Outdoors

I found this clip on YouTube, a clip from some disaster movie, let's just call it: "What Not to Do In An Earthquake."  Can you identify all the things the actors did wrong in their earthquake response?

While it is easy for us as viewers to identify calmly and quickly all the things wrong, if you were faced with such a high magnitude earthquake in real-life you might act the same way.  In times of panic, unless we have practiced correct response and ingrained it in our muscle memory, the fight or flight aspects of our brain will kick in and we might end up just like the movie stars in the clip (ok minus the whole limo driving under a crumbling freeway, emergency flight out of the airport parts!).

So today your mission is to identify a safe place in every step of your daily routine.  Start with when you wake up in the morning, when you are in the kitchen making breakfast, in the garage going to your car, while you are on the road, when you are at your child's school and while you are at work or any other activities that are a part of your daily routine.  In each spot, identify the safe place to be in the event of an earthquake.

Safe places indoors are:

  • Lying alongside a bed or couch.  Some people call this the 45 degree rule.  The idea is that if ceiling beams or walls fall down, they will land at an angle against your couch or bed, creating a triangle of safe space to protect you.
  • Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
  • Against an inside wall.
  • Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.

Safe places outdoors are:
  • In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways
Then tonight run a mock drill with your family.  Surprise them at dinner by suddenly shaking the dinner table and yelling out "earthquake drill!"  Then lead by example by going to your safe place.

A note about the "inside a doorway controversy": many emergency management officials have removed the "inside a doorway" location as a recommended safe spot indoors.  The reason for this is purely logistical: imagine you are in a classroom or office with other people when an earthquake strikes.  If you all try to rush to the same doorway, not everyone can fit under the doorway.  Avoid this problem by identifying other safe spots indoors.

Did you practice with your family?  What happened?  Share your stories with us here on our blog or on our Ready Set Go Kits Facebook Fan Page.

Still need to get your earthquake emergency kits?  Get ready-made emergency kits at our online store.

Coming up next in our 6 part series: Step 3: Educate Yourself and Family Members

Read: Step 1: Check for Hazards In the Home

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