If you live on the East Coast this week, then you’ve become acquainted firsthand with Mother Nature’s bad side. With an earthquake on Tuesday and a hurricane threatening East Coast states in recent days, millions of Americans are taking a closer look at their emergency plans and wondering what they need to do. Here’s a quick rundown.
First off: Hurricane Irene. The National Weather Service issued hurricane warnings and watches yesterday for East Coast states stretching from North Carolina to New Jersey. Some areas have started to evacuate.
If you are threatened by a hurricane:
• Evacuate. Don’t put your life or your family in danger. Fill your car with gas at the first report of a possible storm or hurricane. Look up evacuation routes and shelter locations beforehand and be ready to go.
• If you don’t already, have an emergency supply kit ready with flashlights, medications, batteries, a radio, hand sanitizer, toiletries, cell phone charger, among other needs. (PDF)
• Don’t forget food and supplies for your pets. (PDF)
• If you have time, cover your home’s windows and doors with boards or heavy tape.
• Reach out to elderly neighbors to see if they are okay and have a way to evacuate.
• Watch out for flooding. Bring a map in case you have to take an alternate evacuation route.
While the attention now is on Hurricane Irene, earthquakes were the topic of conversation earlier this week, following the 5.8-magnitude earthquake in Virginia on Aug. 23. But it’s not just the East Coast that’s been rumbling. California, Colorado and Peru have had their share of earthquakes as well this week.
For those of you who aren’t used to all this ground shaking, here are a few quick tips:
• If you are near windows, glass or anything that might fall, move away when the shaking starts. If you are in bed when an earthquake occurs, stay there. If you are outside, move away from buildings and streetlights.
• That old advice to take shelter in a doorway is out of date. Emergency officials now advise that you should “duck, cover and hold” during an earthquake. Find something sturdy to hide under, crawl underneath and stay put until the earthquake is over.
• After an earthquake, check for gas leaks and shut off the main valve if you find one.
• Be ready for aftershocks, which often occur in the days after a quake.
For more information, download one of these preparedness fact sheets from APHA’s Get Ready campaign. And remember, you don’t have to wait for an emergency to get ready.
• Hurricanes: English PDF Spanish PDF
• Earthquakes: English PDF Spanish PDF
• Power outages: English PDF Spanish PDF
• Food and water safety during a disaster: English PDF Spanish PDF