Earthquake Safety Tips No. 4
After the shaking subsides;
Even after the ground grows still, the danger is not necessarily over. As the Earth settles from its trembling it can produce a series of smaller quakes known as aftershocks. On rare occasions, a second earthquake that’s even bigger than the first might follow. When that happens, the first quake is called a foreshock, and the second temblor is called a mainshock. This was the case for the two large earthquakes—a magnitude 6.4 followed by a magnitude 7.1 event—that rocked California in the summer of 2019.
Still, once the shaking subsides it’s time to start getting yourself and others ready for more. First, check for injuries. Sometimes people won’t initially feel pain because of the adrenaline that courses through the body during life-threatening events. Next, check the gas and electric lines, and turn them off if you can do so safely. And if you are inside a heavily damaged structure, get yourself and others out as soon as possible.
If you’re trapped, stay calm. Protect your mouth, nose, and eyes from the dust and call or text for help. Make noise by whistling or shouting to get responders’ attention. But if you are outside, keep an eye out for hazards like fallen electrical lines, ruptured gas pipes, or precarious structures.
Turn on the radio—perhaps one you stowed in your earthquake emergency kit—and listen for updates. Heed warnings and instructions from official organizations like the United States Geological Survey, and be careful about what you see shared on social media. Falsehoods spread like wildfire in emergency situations. To let your family and friends know all is well—or to check for the status of your own loved ones—head to the Red Cross’ Safe and Well website.
The unpredictability of earthquakes is frightening, but with a little preparation, you can be ready if a big one strikes.