Even if you do not live in an area particularly susceptible to earthquakes, such as California, it does not mean you’re in the clear. Experts say there’s a 97 percent chance of a major earthquake in a zone that includes Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky. There was a 6.8 earthquake in Washington State in 2001.
A strong earthquake is sudden and can cause catastrophic damage. Buildings that are not prepared for earthquakes can collapse, killing and injuring inhabitants. Earthquakes can be uniquely destructive for construction sites and industrial facilities that contain large equipment and hazardous substances.
Signs of an earthquake include:
- Rumbling or roaring sound growing louder
- Rolling that gets violent
- A jarring, violent jolt
- Destabilizing shaking
An earthquake is triggered by rock shifting and breaking beneath the Earth’s surface. Some hazards include:
- Bridge and building collapse
- Utilities disruption
- Flash floods
People moving as little as 10 feet can be injured. Deaths and extensive property damage are possible in populated areas. Most injuries and deaths are caused by collapsing buildings and falling objects. Aftershocks can occur during the hours, days, and weeks after the main earthquake. Earthquake damage is often predictable and preventable.
Planning, Preparing, and Practicing
Thorough preparation is the key to surviving an earthquake without injuries or fatalities. People often freeze during an emergency as they try to remember what they’re supposed to do. But if they know what to expect and have practiced the proper responses many times before a catastrophe, they’re much more likely to avoid injury and help others.
What to Do During an Earthquake
During drills, have people practice dropping under a safe place, protecting their faces, and holding on to a table leg. Practice drop, cover, and hold-on at least twice a year. It will become an automatic response the more it’s practiced. Quick responses during earthquakes can prevent injuries.
During earthquakes, remember:
- Go to the safe place and drop, cover, and hold-on.
- Employees should wait in the safe place until the shaking stops.
- Check to see if you are hurt, then check the people around you.
- Watch out for fallen and broken objects.
- Be ready for aftershocks.
- Beware of fires, the most common earthquake-related hazard.
- Use the stairs, not the elevator.
- Employees outside during the quake should stay outside away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines.
Identify specific systems, areas, machines, and equipment that will be especially vulnerable during an earthquake. Research and implement measures to secure these items and minimize damage. Designate “safe places” in each room, a under a table or against an interior wall away from windows and bookcases.
Draft evacuation plans for major areas of the facility. Create a map with the utility switches, escape routes, exits, and rally points clearly marked, as well as secondary routes and exits. Procure the necessary emergency equipment and supplies such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, food and water, and rope ladders.
Designate certain employees who will be responsible for critical tasks during and after an earthquake, such as evacuation, securing materials and equipment, first aid, and notifying first respondents. Gather important information such as emergency phone numbers and addresses, utility company contact info, medical information, vehicle information, and insurance details.
Most important of all: Inform all workers of the plan. Everyone in the workplace should know what to do if an earthquake occurs.
All workers should complete earthquake preparedness training, including drills, evacuation, first aid, fire fighting, and plan review. It’s a good idea to have members of each department involved in drafting emergency plans and preparing the facility. Update plans, maps, and procedures.
Proper training of all employees is crucial for workplace hazards and emergencies such as earthquake. Make sure you’re prepared for everything and enroll in online safety training from 360training.com.