How to Prepare Your Home and Family for Earthquakes

With the recent string of earthquakes in the Philippines, homeowners and families are growing more concerned regarding their preparations for the natural disaster. Here is a quick checklist to follow.

A series of earthquakes and aftershocks struck several areas in the Philippines, raising concerns among people on whether their homes and families are prepared in case an even stronger earthquake hits.

Here is a quick checklist to see whether your home and family are earthquake-proof.

Secure Your Home and Belongings

The first step in preparing your home for earthquakes, especially for those living in areas that are prone to the natural phenomenon, is to secure items that may fall or move.

Examples of such items are drawers and shelves, appliances, and breakable trinkets. Tall and heavy furniture may topple over, and items in the bedroom may hurt people if they fall when the earthquake happens at night.

By securing these items, it makes it easier for people to move around during and after the earthquake, as it eliminates some of the potential debris that may litter the home.

Members of the household should also know how to switch off utilities, such as electricity and water, in the event of an earthquake. If safe to do so, it would be best to turn them off to avoid dangerous after effects.

Request an Inspection from Experts

While a home may look earthquake-proof to the naked eye, experts will better determine the integrity of structures to make sure that they keep standing after the ground shakes.

Things that will raise red flags among experts include houses that are not built by a licensed civil engineer or architect, houses built before 1992 when earthquake-resistant standards were established, and houses that have been previously damaged by earthquakes but were not repaired.

Houses that will require further preparation against earthquakes are those with irregular shapes, expansions not supervised by a licensed civil engineer or architect, walls that are less than 6 inches thick, and steel bars that are not of standard size and spacing. Experts will also have to fix unsupported walls that are more than 3 meters wide, gable walls made of improper materials, foundations not made of reinforced concrete, and those on soft soil conditions.

Prepare Supplies

Once the home is prepared, it is time to focus on the people living within it. Homeowners should prepare disaster kits filled with supplies, and place them in various spots in the house.

The idea of disaster kits is to make sure that the members of the household have access to items that will help in survival. These include food and water for sustenance, a flashlight to keep safe in the dark, a whistle to signal rescuers, clothes to keep dry and warm, a first aid kit to treat minor injuries, important documents for identification, and a mobile phone to call rescuers.

All members of the household show know where these disaster kits are located and should be able to grab them when needed, in case of an earthquake or any other unfortunate disaster.

Formulate a Plan

With the home and supplies secured, members of the household should come up with a plan on what to do when an earthquake hits. Among the topics for discussions include the location where everyone will meet, who will be in charge of getting babies and pets to safety, and how the plan will adjust when not all members of the household are present at the time.

It is easy to forget a plan when panic sets in from an earthquake, so it might be a good idea for the family to run some earthquake drills.

Check for Hazards

The end of the earthquake does not necessarily mean that things are over, as aftershocks may follow. However, once the ground stops shaking it would be best to start checking yourself and other people for injuries. For serious injuries, immediately seek assistance from the authorities.

For people living in coastal areas, the threat of a tsunami is real after an earthquake. Move as far inland to higher ground as quickly as possible, or go to a vertical refuge if the local government has designated one.

If it was not done during the earthquake, carefully inspect utilities and turn them off if they are safe to do so. If there are signs of danger such as sparks, it would be best to leave them alone and move away as far as possible. Also, inspect the home for any cracks and damage, and vacate the premises if there are signs of a potential collapse.

Preparing for Earthquakes

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prepare for an earthquake, due to their unpredictability. It may strike in the most inopportune time, at which point members of the household will need to improvise to keep themselves safe.

Following these general guidelines will help keep the home and its residents safe from earthquakes though, and will be a good start for preparations.

Sources: GMA news, FEMA, Real Living PH

Read our previous journal for more real estate tips and advice.


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