If you live on the west coast, chances are youíve experienced an earthquake, been taught in school what to do in one, or have a general idea of what to expect. But what if youíre just visiting? The first time you experience an earthquake can be scary. The tenth time you experience an earthquake can be scary too, but if you know a little about what to expect and what to do, you can ride out an earthquake unshaken.
You never really know when an earthquake will happen. There isnít an earthquake season that you can plan your travel around. Actually, scientists record hundreds of earthquakes every year that only their sensitive instruments can feel. These tiny tremors occur quite frequently and for the most part go unnoticed.
So how can you prepare yourself for earthquake safety, if youíre visiting earthquake country? (Most west coast earthquakes occur along the California coast and around Seattle, although inland California and Nevada get their share too.) Following a few basic guidelines can help keep you and your family safe.
- Read the safety information in your hotel room. This is usually found in a notebook on the desk, or on the back of the door. Know how to get from your room to the stairs if an evacuation is called for, but donít go anywhere while the shaking persists. Donít take the elevator.
- If youíre indoors when a quake starts, stay there. Find a protected place away from glass windows or mirrors, and then drop, cover and hold on. Sitting down against a wall or under a strong piece of furniture works well.
- If youíre outdoors, find a place away from trees, buildings and power lines and sit down on the ground until the shaking stops. If youíre in a crowded area, donít run or panic, just sit down and cover your head and neck with your hands.
- If youíre driving, slow down and put on your hazard lights. Drive to a safe place away from trees, buildings and power lines, then stop and stay in the car until the shaking stops. Donít stop on or under bridges or overpasses.
- After the earthquake check yourself and your family for injuries. Remain calm and in most cases, remain where you are. Be prepared for aftershocks. Itís important to keep phone lines clear and the roads free of traffic.