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5 steps to prepare for an earthquake

Maggie Mooney, author of Are You Ready? provides us with five practical and helpful steps to prepare for an earthquake. 1.

Maggie Mooney, author of Are You Ready? provides us with five practical and helpful steps to prepare for an earthquake.

1. Develop an emergency communications plan Decide where you and your family will meet in case of an emergency, especially if family members are travelling from different locations. Plan how you will communicate with each other after an earthquake. Remember that text messages can often be received even when phone lines are jammed, but that power lines are often destroyed during earthquakes. Create a laminated emergency contact card with all these details for each family member.

2. Always be aware of your surroundings

An earthquake can happen at any time. In the event of a disaster, you will have a better chance of avoiding injury if you are fully aware of the surrounding area. When travelling or in an unfamiliar place, scan buildings for exits, review maps, and look for emergency exits. Think of where you would seek shelter if the ground started to shake.

3. Create emergency kits for your home, car and workplace

Each kit should include: personal identification, cash, water, food, a first aid kit, toiletries, a flashlight and a radio with extra batteries. For your home kit, make sure you include canned food and water to last for 72 hours per person, a tent or tarp, a small stove, sleeping bags and tools, including a wrench for turning off gas and water. Supplies such as toilet paper, garbage bags, duct tape and bleach are also useful.

4. Secure your belongings

Walk through each room of your home and take note of any of the following hazards: heavy or fragile objects on high shelves; wall-mounted pictures, TV sets or mirrors; hanging lights or other heavy objects; unsecured appliances or furniture; bookshelves and open shelving units.

Once you have identified hazards, eliminate them. Move dangerous items from high shelves, secure pictures and furniture to walls so they do not 'jump' during movements, and fasten anything that could roll.

5. Rehearse

After following the above steps, ensure you rehearse your action plan with the family.

Practice your planned behavior during an earthquake: finding a safe place, dropping, covering up, and holding on. Change food and water in your emergency kits once every six months. If you move, or your family situation changes, update the plan.

- Maggie Mooney's Are You Ready? (How to Prepare for an Earthquake), published by Greystone Books, 144 pages.