Habitot Children's Museum                                                                                                                            July 2016
"Preparing Your Family for an Earthquake"
July 2016 Parenting Topic of the Month
Unlike hurricanes and some other natural hazards, earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. Nevertheless, there are things that you can do to reduce the chances that you or other members of your household will be injured, that your property will be damaged, or that your home life will be unduly disrupted by an earthquake. These things all fit under the term preparedness, because to be effective, they must be done before earthquakes occur.

For families with young children, planning ahead for inevitable earthquakes requires some additional considerations -- arrangements for picking up a child from a preschool or daycare situation, making sure babysitters and nannies are equally well prepared, and that family members have developed plans for ‘who does what’ if you have more than one child.

It is essential for parents and caregivers to have training in first aid and CPR. Take an emergency preparedness class, too!

Readiness at home:

• Hold a family earthquake training/drill. Include grandparents and any care providers who work in your home.

• Show children 3 and older how to find a safe spot in each room -- make a game of it– post-it pads can make it fun.

• The best way to reduce injury and death during earthquakes is to "Drop, Cover, and Hold On." DROP down onto your hands and knees, COVER your head and neck with both arms, clasping your neck with your hands, HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops.

• Instruct everyone not to run outdoors while an earthquake is occurring – falling debris over doorways is one of the prime causes of injury. If you are already outdoors – stay there but move away from light poles and trees.

• Make sure all adults and children know your home’s safety exits and keep these clear.

• Plan an outdoor meeting spot for meeting up after the shaking stops. Plan an out of area phone number to call so that everyone can be accounted for. (Local calls may not work but long distance calls may.)

• All adults and teenagers should know how to turn off electrical, gas and water. Purchase the special tool you need for the water main.

When children are in the care of others:

• Learn the policies of the school or daycare center your children attend; appoint someone to pick them up if you cannot go yourself. Let your child know who that is.

• Discuss actions your childcare provider should take until you can reunite with him/her and your child.

• Establish how and where your family will reunite.

• Make sure your care provider knows how to call your appointed contact outside of the area where everyone can report their location.

Preparing Your Home for an Earthquake:

• Make sure your home or apartment is securely bolted to the foundation and braced for an earthquake. Joist connectors and sheer walls are necessary.

• Strap your water heater to the wall with approved strapping equipment available at hardware stores. Make sure your stove has a flexible gas line.

• Secure cupboard doors, heavy furniture like bookcases, breakable objects, and the television. Be especially mindful of children’s rooms where falling objects can severely injure a child.

• Create a 3-day emergency food/water and supply kit and show everyone in your family where these emergency supplies are stored. Include special items for children – stuffed animals, toys, books, art materials. Get a solar or battery cell phone charger. Store emergency kits in your car and in a safe area inside or outside your home. Use a crush-proof container.

In the Event of an Earthquake:

• Do NOT run outside until shaking stops -- most people are injured by falling debris when exiting buildings.

• Cover yours and your child’s head and neck with your arms and body

• If you can move, go toward an interior wall or corner. If not, drop to the floor and hang on to a table, bed or heavy furniture.

• Once the shaking stops, smell for gas or smoke; listen for running water. Turn off gas and water if instructed to do so or if it seems necessary. Do not turn on light switches or light fireplaces or candles in case of escaping gas. Do not re-enter your home unless authorities deem it safe.

For more information on Earthquake Preparedness, go to:
https://www.fema.gov/earthquake-safety- home

You can also learn more about Emergency Preparedness as well as a dozen other safety topics at Habitot’s 16th annual Early Childhood Safety Campaign, July 15 and 16, 2016. Learn more at: http://habitot.org/museum/events_child_safety.html
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