What’s shaking? Earthquake preparedness

Thursday is the Great Washington ShakeOut, a massive earthquake drill held across the state to teach people how to prepare for the next quake.

Puget Sound Energy provided this list of things that people can do before, during and after an earthquake.

What you can do now

  • Know where to find each utility meter or service panel in your home (electricity, gas and water) and how to turn them off. Keep a shutoff wrench nearby.
  • Securely anchor water heaters, bookcases and heavy appliances.
  • Always store flammable liquids safely away from water heaters, furnaces or stoves and store them at ground level, preferably in a container such as a plastic bin that can contain spills.
  • If you have an automatic garage door or gate, learn how to open them manually.
  • Store flashlights around your home and keep them in a handy spot, like near a phone or door.
  • Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions on portable generators well before you need to use them. Never use generators inside enclosed areas, even with windows open, or outside near open windows; carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust can be deadly.

What to do during an earthquake

  • Find cover under a sturdy table or crouch low and cover your head beside an inside wall. Hold on until the shaking stops.
  • If you are cooking in the kitchen, turn off the stove and other appliances if it’s possible to do so safely before you take cover.
  • If you’re outside, get into the open, away from power lines, buildings, trees and walls. Be alert for falling debris.
  • If you’re driving, pull to the side of the road and stop. Do not park under power lines, light posts, overpasses, trees or signs. Stay in your car until the earthquake is over.

After the earthquake

  • Check for damage. If you smell the odor or hear the sound of gas escaping inside your home or business — or outside near the meter — everyone should evacuate the house or building immediately. DO NOT turn any electrical switches on or off, use the phone or do anything that might create a spark. Once a safe distance away from the potential leak, call your utility or 911 to report the problem. Never check for a gas leak with a match or an open flame.
  • If you can easily, quickly and safely access the gas meter without re-entering your house, and you know how to shut it off, then do so. However, turning off the gas meter should not delay you from getting to a safe place outside of the structure. The meter shut-off valve is located at the first fitting on the gas supply pipe coming out of the ground.
  • Shutting off the gas meter should be done only if you hear or smell or otherwise suspect that gas may be leaking. If you shut off the gas, DO NOT turn it back on. Only your utility can safely turn the gas back on, and if you turn it off, you may not have hot water or heat for many days.
  • Treat all low-hanging and downed power lines as if they are energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Be aware of trees, branches and other objects that may be touching power lines.
  • Be sure to put on sturdy shoes and watch for broken glass. Broken glass is one of the most common causes of injury following an earthquake.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is one of the most common hazards after an earthquake.
  • During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, not candles. Candles pose a fire risk. If you must use candles, keep them away from drapes, lampshades and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
  • After a major earthquake, outside help may not be available for several days, so prepare before a disaster strikes by making a plan, building a kit and becoming informed.

More info: safeinthesound.org.

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