Quake preparedness focus of drill
Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 9:15 pm
On Thursday, people at businesses, schools and organizations across the central United States will participate in an earthquake drill at 10:15 a.m.
The drill is part of the Great ShakeOut Central U.S., which promotes earthquake awareness and preparedness.
Safe Electricity also wants residents to be aware of electrical and natural gas hazards that can follow an earthquake and know how to stay safe from them.
The states included in the Great ShakeOut are Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. All nine states could feel tremors from an earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, and most could feel the effects of a quake in the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. The New Madrid Seismic Zone is responsible for three of the 10 most powerful earthquakes in the contiguous United States.
Experts at the Great ShakeOut recommend when residents feel the earth shake, the first thing they should do is drop and get down on their hands and knees. Secondly, they should cover their head, neck and, if possible, their entire body by getting underneath sturdy furniture. Only if there is no sturdy furniture nearby to take shelter under should they get down near an interior wall or next to low-lying furniture that will not fall on them, and cover their head and neck with their arms and hands. Then, hold on to the piece of sturdy furniture (or if there is no sturdy furniture, their head and neck) until the shaking stops.
“Earthquakes are terrifying and devastating events,” said Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “Unfortunately, the danger is not over when the shaking stops. Communities are still vulnerable to explosions, fires and electrical accidents. Understanding these hazards can be a matter of life or death in such a situation.”
When the earthquake stops, Safe Electricity has some additional safety tips for residents to keep in mind:
• In the home, do not use electronics, matches or lighters until it is determined there is no gas leak.
• If in a severely damaged building, leave and go to an open space outside.
• Be alert to dangers that could be hidden by debris, including downed power lines and broken gas pipes. If you hear hissing, smell gas or notice sagging or downed utility lines, stay away and alert the utility(s).
• Warn and keep others away from downed power lines. Buildings, trees, cars, debris, even other utility lines and other objects can become electrical hazards if they are in contact with a power line, so be cautious.
• If it can be done safely, turn off electricity at the main breaker; don’t do this if the house is unstable or if you must stand in water to do so. Overturned and damaged water heaters and damaged electric circuitry can cause explosions and fires. Turning off electricity prevents this.
• If there is the smell of gas or a leak is suspected, get out of the house. Once outside call 9-1-1, and notify the gas utility. If possible, shut off the main gas valve. Find the shut-off valve at the gas meter, and twist it with a wrench in either direction until it is off. Do not turn the gas back on; only a professional can safely do this.
• Aftershocks can be just as powerful as earthquakes. Be prepared and practice the same safety procedures as during an earthquake.
• Don’t enter damaged property after the earthquake unless you are certain the electricity and gas have been shut off.
Safe Electricity urges everyone to take the time to learn vital safety measures and practice safety steps before an emergency situation arises.
Find out how you can participate in the Great ShakeOut and learn more about earthquake safety by visiting www.shakeout.org/centralus. For more on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.
Published in The Messenger 2.4.13