There are no rules which can eliminate all earthquake
danger. However, damage and injury can be greatly reduced by following
common sense. The following excerpt is from a U.S. Geological Survey
publication, which can help direct your students on what to do after an
- Check for injuries to your family, to those around
you, and others in your neighborhood. Do not attempt to move seriously
injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
- Check for fires or fire hazards.
- Wear shoes in all areas near debris or broken
- Check utility lines and appliances for damage. If
gas leaks exist, shut off the main gas valve. Shut off electrical power
if there is damage to your house wiring. Report damage to the
appropriate utility companies and follow their instructions. Do not use
matches, lighters, or open-flame appliances until you are sure that
there are no gas leaks. Do not operate electrical switches or appliances
if gas leaks are suspected.
- Avoid downed power lines or objects touched by the
- Immediately clean up spilled medicines, drugs, and
other potentially harmful materials.
- Obtain emergency water from water heaters, toilets
tanks, melted ice cubes, and canned vegetables if the water is off.
- Check to see that sewage lines are intact before
permitting continued flushing of toilets.
- Do not eat or drink anything from open containers
near shattered glass. Liquids may be strained through a clean
handkerchief or cloth if danger of glass contamination exists.
- Check you freezer and plan meals to use foods which
will spoil quickly if the power is shut off.
- Use outdoor charcoal broilers for emergency use.
- Do not use your telephone except for genuine
emergency calls. Turn on your radio for damage reports and information.
- Check your chimney over its entire length for
cracks and damage, particularly in the attic and at the roof line.
Unnoticed damage can lead to a fire. The initial check should be made
from a distance. Approach chimneys with caution.
- Check closets and storage shelf areas. Open closet
and cupboard doors carefully and watch for objects falling from shelves.
- Do not spread rumors. They often do great harm
- Do not go sightseeing, particularly in beach and
waterfront areas, where seismic sea waves may strike. Keep the streets
clear for passage of emergency vehicles.
- Be prepared for additional earthquake shocks called
"aftershocks." Although most of these are smaller than the
main shock, some many be large enough to cause additional damage.
- Respond to requests for help from police, fire
fighters, civil defense, and relief organizations, but do not go into
damaged areas unless your help has been requested. Cooperate fully with
public safety officials. In some areas, you may be arrested for getting
in the way of disaster operations.
- Read the list of post earthquake actions to the
- Have the students write an essay, as a homework
assignment, on what they would do at home after a big earthquake. You
might want to give them the lead sentence, "It was a hot,
blistering day when the big earthquake occurred. I was home..."
- Have the students read their essays. Have them
discuss whether good procedures were followed. Do not just give the students
your evaluation, but have other students analyze the logic. This helps
to reinforce the logic of responding to a disaster.
- Please remember that the answers may vary for
different situations. Students should be taught to THINK about the
hazards and react accordingly...not to just "duck" and