Moving Your Family in an Emergency When Your Car Isn’t an Option
You never know what could happen in a serious earthquake. Roads can be damaged so badly that they’re impossible to drive on. Vehicles may be damaged by falling debris. You may need to move your family to safety on foot while also dealing with aftershocks and your car may not be an option.
Preparing for an Evacuation
As part of your earthquake preparedness plan, make sure everyone is ready to do a great deal of walking if necessary. Everyone should have suitable shoes to put on as you evacuate. Tennis shoes are best but anything that’s comfortable for long walks will do. Sandals should be avoided because of broken glass.
Prepare a battery-operated radio to carry with you so you can stay abreast of any important news. Smartphones and other Internet devices may be usable, but they’re not 100% reliable. Radios are guaranteed to work.
Bring along snacks and distractions for the kids. Distractions can include coloring books, favorite games, or toys they like to play with. You’ll need to break up the long walk and give them something to do.
Dangers from Above
Here’s some good news – no matter how hard the aftershocks are, there’s pretty much no chance whatsoever that the earth will open up and swallow you. The real dangers are from overhead. When the ground starts shaking in an aftershock, stop walking and cover your head. Broken glass or debris from above can rain down.
Whenever outside, whether there is shaking or not, watch for anything overhead. Power lines, signs, trees, and debris from buildings can fall. Stay away from vending machines or other large objects that could topple. Even if the ground isn’t shaking right now, a sign or structure can be hanging by a thread, ready to fall.
Stay in open areas as much as possible. Choose a path through a park rather than a street with skyscrapers on both sides.
A few other places to avoid include:
* Coastlines – After a major earthquake, there can be tsunamis, so near the ocean is a bad place to be. Tsunamis can also travel up-river, so stay away from coastal rivers.
* Hillsides – Earthquakes can set off landslides and avalanches, so stay clear of steep hillsides.
* Sinkhole areas – If you live in an area with sinkholes, stay on pavements as much as possible.
* Overpasses and other elevated structures – Don’t walk on any structure that could potentially topple or collapse.
If you choose to seek shelter, pick the structure carefully. Choose something that’s sturdy and has a number of supports. Don’t choose a wide roof that only has supports at either end. This is more likely to collapse.
You should never have any open flames. Gas lines often rupture in earthquakes and the risk of fires and explosions is high. If you see downed power lines, stay clear of them. Stay clear also of any damaged buildings or structures.
Taking Care of Your Family
Stop frequently and take small breaks. It’s better to stop before everyone is tired to take a small breather than to wait until everyone is exhausted already. Use the snacks and distractions you’ve packed for the kids to keep them entertained and occupied.
Stay calm and don’t run. Your kids will be watching you. If you’re afraid, this will heighten their fear. Running will wear you out more quickly and increases your risk of injury. Walk calmly and carefully.
If possible, walk with others. When you’re with other people, you can help each other out. It also helps to simply have others to talk to. Long walks aren’t particularly fun, especially when there are dangers around you, and when you have companions it’s much easier.
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