I was so afraid that there would be another big earthquake in Japan, which was a large reason for my decision to leave Japan early. I still have nightmares about earthquakes. The earth is still so incredibly active, and I still don't believe that the ground is done with all of the shifting that it seems to need.
If you are in an earthquake-prone zone and are not confident in what you are supposed to do, please read the following guide from FEMA. If you are interested in more information on the "Drop, Cover, Hold On!" method (as well as why to do it), Earthquakecountry has a bit more information for you.
What to Do During an Earthquake
Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
- DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
- Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
- Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
- Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
- Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
- DO NOT use the elevators.
- Stay there.
- Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
If in a moving vehicle
- Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
- Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
If trapped under debris
- Do not light a match.
- Do not move about or kick up dust.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Finally, below is a video I found that the state of California prepared a few years ago to prepare its citizens for a possible quake. I almost couldn't watch the whole thing because of the rumbling background sound, which instantly flooded me with those terrifying fears I had during the quake, but I watched anyhow. Much of the information is listed above or in the links, but a few other pointers are included as well.
Its so easy to feel invincible until something has happened to you or someone close to you. PLease take this time to remind yourself and teach your children what to do in any sort of emergency, whether it be an earthquake, hurricane, or even what to do about strangers. It only takes a moment for a disaster or crisis to strike; how we prepare and react to it could be the difference between life and death.