EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT | Californians are used to warnings about the impending “Big One,” with the familiar refrain that “you never know when it will strike.” But even minor earthquakes can cause damage and disrupt the rhythms of normal life. In advance of the Great ShakeOut, one of the largest worldwide earthquake drills taking place on Thursday, Oct. 21, LMU Emergency Management is kicking off a week of preparedness tips and tricks – ensuring that if and when the Big One (or a small one) hits, you’ll be ready.
Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety
Experts in earthquake science, preparedness, and mitigation have developed the following step-by-step recommendations to stay safe before, during, and after an earthquake.
Before an Earthquake
- Secure your space – take a critical look at your home, classroom, and workspace, and identify possible hazards. Secure moveable items.
- Plan to be safe – create your emergency plan and decide how you will communicate with loved ones (remember, phone lines may be down). Establish a meeting place in a safe area, such as a lawn or parking lot away from trees and power lines. Save paper copies of loved ones’ contact info. Text instead of call, to keep phone lines open.
- Organize emergency supplies – put them in a convenient location that will remain accessible. The Earthquake Country Alliance’s checklist can help you determine what to pack for an under-bed bag (immediate supplies), evacuation “go bag” (three days), home (two weeks), and even supplies for your work space and car.
- Minimize financial hardship – organize important documents in an accessible spot, including printed copies in your evacuation bag. This includes your driver’s license, passport, list of emergency contacts, and photos of household belongings (which will help you file an insurance claim). Maximize the strength of your home or apartment, and consider earthquake insurance if you don’t already have it.
During an Earthquake
- Drop, cover, and hold on – drop to your hands and knees, and cover your head/neck with one arm and hand. If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath and hold on with your other hand. If no shelter is available, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows). It is no longer recommended to get under a door frame.
After an Earthquake
- Improve safety – evacuate if necessary (take the stairs if you can – never use an elevator) and if you’re in a tsunami zone get to higher ground. Help the injured, and take efforts to prevent further injury or damage. Look around to identify new threats, such as leaking gas lines, structural damage, or faulty water or electric lines.
- Reconnect and restore – repair damage, and stay prepared for aftershocks in the following weeks. Stay connected to communication channels (use your portable radio for information and safety advisories). Know that recovery can take several weeks or months following a big earthquake.
Get Prepared at LMU
Follow @lmupublicsafety on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter – each day during the next week, they’ll be sharing further tips for earthquake and general emergency preparedness (including how to stock your emergency kit, trivia and myths about earthquake safety, and more).
On Thursday, Oct. 21, join the entire LMU community in participating in the Great ShakeOut. At 10:21 a.m. (and again at 6:21 p.m. for evening classes), a joint alert will be issued via LMU Alert (email, text, and Rave Guardian app notification) and campus landline phones, encouraging all Lions to immediately drop, cover, and hold on. A subsequent all-clear will be issued a minute later.
During the Great ShakeOut, individuals are strongly encouraged to treat the drill as a real-life situation: take stock of your surroundings, and find a secure spot where you can drop, cover, and hold on. Check that your emergency bag is up to date, and you know your nearest exit points in case of an emergency.
Spread the word. Utilize the LMU Emergency Management communicator’s toolkit to remind fellow students and colleagues about the Great ShakeOut.