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Home Earthquake Preparedness

As we’re thinking about the second anniversary of the 7.1 earthquake that shook most of South Central Alaska on November 30, 2018, we thought it would be wise to have a refresher on earthquake preparedness. Most of us have vivid memories of where we were, who we were with, and what we were doing on that brisk morning. Whether your home was rocked a little or a lot, it’s always a good idea to be prepared BEFORE an earthquake rather than scrambling (ha, see what we did there?) to put together the essentials after the fact. 

Please note: this is not an exhaustive list, just a starting point. Please research additional preparation information at websites such as the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) and FEMA’s www.ready.gov/earthquakes page, which the following list was compiled from.

  • Earthquakes can happen anytime, anywhere. The best time to prepare for an earthquake is before it happens.
  • Talk about earthquakes with your family so everyone knows what to do. Discussions ahead of time help reduce fear, particularly for younger children.
  • Protect your property. Secure heavy items in your home like bookcases, refrigerators, televisions, and objects that hang on walls.
  • Practice with family & friends by 1) Dropping to your knees, 2) Covering your head, and 3) Holding on to sturdy furniture.
  • Depending on your needs, there are alternatives to Drop, Cover & Hold On. If using a walker or wheelchair: Lock, Cover & Hold On. If in a recliner or bed: cover your head & neck with your arms or a pillow
  • Remember that aftershocks can happen after an earthquake. Text loved ones to let them know you’re ok instead of calling. Save your battery by only using your phone for emergencies. Monitor local news & officials for updates.
  • After an earthquake happens, clean-up begins. Know how to stay safe: Wear protective clothing. Put on thick-soled shoes, work gloves, and goggles. Work with others to lift heavy objects.

Another wildly important thing to be aware of in your home (and other buildings) after an earthquake is the fact that there may be leaking gas or water lines and downed power lines in your area. For a gas leak, you need to immediately evacuate your home and call 911. In the event of an earthquake, emergency responders will have a plethora of calls, so be ready to mitigate the situation to the best of your ability. After everyone in your home evacuates, locate the gas meter and turn off the gas. Do not turn on any switches in your home, make sure the oven and stovetop are turned off, and don’t light any matches or cigarettes inside. Be sure to air out your house as much as possible before safely reentering. Continue to follow the emergency responder’s instructions about safely turning the gas back on in your home. For a water leak, locate the water meter or emergency shutoff valve and turn the water off as soon as possible to prevent damage from flooding. Be advised that you will not have any working faucets or toilets. Before this happens, be sure to have your emergency water supply containers filled with fresh water every 6 months.

A few last tips, especially living in the land of the midnight sun and earthquakes, review your home insurance policy. Talk to your insurance agent about earthquake insurance. This is vital when living in Alaska, as things can and do happen. Again, taking a little time to prepare beforehand in this area can allow for huge relief in the long run. 

And finally, be sure to review your emergency supply stockpile every 6 months. Have enough emergency supplies to last the people in your household for at least a few days, such as food with long shelf lives, batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, an alternate source to heat food (i.e. camp stove with fuel), basic first aid supplies, paper products, toiletries, changes of clothes, blankets, cleaning supplies and wipes, etc. A well-maintained generator and fuel is always a good idea as well, since most larger earthquakes come with some amount of power outages and we are all incredibly dependent on electricity these days! Don’t forget to have extra extension cords and a phone charger in your emergency supplies too.
A recommended emergency supply list from the CDC can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemophilia/documents/familyemergencykitchecklist.pdf

As we said earlier, these are great starting points to prepare for an earthquake. It’s up to all of us as homeowners to act on the precautions that can prevent serious damage as much as we are able. And please, if something like this does happen to your family, reach out to your RMG Real Estate Network agent. As in 2018, we are here to help in whatever way possible in regards to an emergency such as an earthquake. Be safe and be prepared, friends!

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