Earthquakes are some of the least predictable and most deadly of all natural disasters. Scientists know that they are coming sometime in the future, but the earth pretty much has a mind of its own when it comes to shifting and moving. Those that live in areas were quakes are common know that there are several things that can be done to prevent injury and damage to property once they have a plan of action.
Most homes and businesses in earthquake areas are built now to withstand much more stress than they were in the past. Walls are sturdier and structures are overall more flexible. Still, buildings do break apart and collapse, and it is important to get away from them as quickly as possible, and away from walls and brickwork that may fall into the street. If it is impossible to get out of the building, getting beneath a sturdy piece of furniture such as a table is advised. Do get away from large plate glass windows and free standing shelving that may topple. There will be aftershocks, so returning to a building is not advised, and especially if there has already been structural damage done.
At home, those that are accustomed to quakes make it a point to have things battened down when it comes to cupboards and shelves. Shelving should be well attached to walls, and cupboard doors should have strong latches to keep them closed. Breakables should be kept off of shelves and locked away. As with any natural disaster, most families have some sort of plan as to what to do and where to go, and most importantly, how to contact one another.
In an especially severe earthquake, there may be an extended time period without electricity, running water, or heat. Well prepared families have equipment to cover this by stocking up on batteries for flashlights or battery operated lanterns, a supply of bottled water, extra non perishable food supplies, and some alternative heat source. It is also a good idea to have an emergency first aid kit, and a box prepared that contains all vital records and papers, such as insurance, deeds, birth certificates, and titles.
As with any other natural disaster, there is no real way to be totally prepared for the worst. However, by following some basic rules, rehearsing a course of action, and having some emergency supplies on hand, many problems and tragedies can be avoided.