I live in New York. Maybe we have earthquakes, but I have never been woken up by one. However, I am presently in Oklahoma visiting family and as of less than an hour ago I now know what it feels like and sounds like to be awoken by an earthquake. The one that rocked me awake this morning was something like a 4.4 and centered a few miles north of me. My first thought isn’t appropriate to write here, but my second thought was “What do I do?”
I am travelling without my spouse and kids so I am ostensibly responsible only for me, but I don’t really know what to do. I mean, I remember from the movie “Knocked Up” that you are supposed to go outside, but it is 26 Fahrenheit and I am not dressed to be running around outside. Plus it turns out that you aren’t supposed to go outside anyway – thanks, stoner Seth Rogan.
If I did have my spouse and kids with me though it seems like I should probably know what to do to protect them – after all, I do kill the vermin at home, and I do check out the closet monsters and some of the things that go bump in the night. After a bit of research (because I am not going back to sleep until my flight leaves in a few hours), here is what I discovered thanks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
If you are inside, stay inside. DO NOT run outside or to other rooms during shaking.
In most situations, you will reduce your chance of injury from falling objects and even building collapse if you immediately:
- DROP down onto your hands and knees before the earthquake knocks you down. This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.
- COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under the shelter of a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall or next to low-lying furniture that won’t fall on you, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
- HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.
DO NOT stand in a doorway. You are safer under a table. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. The doorway does not protect you from the most likely source of injury−falling or flying objects. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by falling or flying objects (e.g., TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases), or by being knocked to the ground.
You can take other actions, even while an earthquake is happening, that will reduce your chances of being hurt.
- If possible within the few seconds before shaking intensifies, quickly move away from glass and hanging objects, and bookcases, china cabinets, or other large furniture that could fall. Watch for falling objects, such as bricks from fireplaces and chimneys, light fixtures, wall hangings, high shelves, and cabinets with doors that could swing open.
- If available nearby, grab something to shield your head and face from falling debris and broken glass.
- If you are in the kitchen, quickly turn off the stove and take cover at the first sign of shaking.
- If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.
So, theoretically you are now ready to handle this situation should you find yourself in Oklahoma or some other place where the ground has no sense. At the very least you can protect the family and not scream like a small child when your kids look to you for confident leadership – nobody wants to hear how they failed their kids and spouse in the face of an emergency.
How did you ring in the new year? Do you have any earthquake stories? It was louder than I imagined it would be – a bang and rumble would be my description, but I was trying to wake up, so maybe I am wrong?