Rules and wisdom for living in earthquake country

With the world shaken by so many earthquakes in the past months, the West Coast has once again focused its eyes on the ground. Geologists and scientists agree that a large earthquake lies in the future. Especially for those of us in the Pacific Northwest. When exactly it will happen, they don’t know—a comforting truth—but we can prepare for when it does.

There are several important steps households can take toward earthquake preparation. Identifying and correcting any potential hazards, such as loose windows, potentially breakable objects, or unsteady furniture, can help eliminate injuries during an earthquake. A disaster plan, complemented by a disaster kit, also aids in earthquake preparation. 

What is perhaps most important to remember is what to do during the earthquake itself. Drop, cover, and hold is the age-old advice learned in primary school, and it turns out to be a sage piece of wisdom. The moment shaking begins, drop to the floor on hands and knees and take cover under any sturdy surface. A desk or a table is ideal. Kneeling against an interior wall will also work, covering neck and head with arms and hands. Whatever the shelter, hold onto it until the shaking ceases. If the table or desk moves with the earthquake, move with it. Once the shaking has ceased, go carefully to a safe area.

Those are the dos, but the earthquake don’ts are just as crucial. One key rule—don’t ever assume they’re over. Aftershocks are common and can be powerful. Don’t kneel next to exterior walls, windows, mirrors, large appliances, hanging objects, or kitchen cabinets. Standing in doorways, despite popular belief, is also not a good idea (they offer no protection from any airborne objects and are difficult to hold on to). Also, do not run outside. Moving while the ground shakes is difficult and could cause more injuries than if one just stayed put.

Earthquakes are scary prospects no matter how well-prepared a household. Something that can give security is a Washington state earthquake policy. We can provide free quotes for earthquake insurance and coverage advice. Send us an e-mail or call directly at 888-433-0031. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

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