At Rescu, we want to prepare you for any emergency that may come your way, whether it be a fall, fire, or natural disaster. And since February is Earthquake Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to brush up on your earthquake safety knowledge.
Earthquakes are unexpected, violent, and potentially very dangerous. If you live with an elderly loved one or they live by themselves, it’s crucial to have a plan.
Here are some helpful earthquake safety tips for seniors to protect your loved one and their home in the event of an earthquake.
How to Prepare for an Earthquake
Earthquakes happen when you least expect them to, so the best way to handle them is with good preparation. In honor of Earthquake Awareness Month, we put together this list of pre-earthquake tips to help you and your loved one prepare:
- Clear pathways – If your senior has to take cover under a table or desk at a moment’s notice, clutter can block their path and prevent them from getting to safety. Make sure to keep all pathways and safe areas as clear as possible.
- Secure big, heavy objects – If they have a heavy table or piece of furniture that could fall during an earthquake, secure them to the floor or walls to avoid unnecessary danger. These items could be heavy bookcases, shelves, hanging mirrors, the refrigerator, etc. Also, place heavier objects on the bottom shelves if possible.
- Set up and earthquake safety kit – Put together essential items your loved one might need if their power goes out for an extended period of time. Designate an easily accessible spot for your safety kit and make sure they know exactly where it is. You can include enough food and water for a few days, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, batteries, a cloth or mask to protect their airways from dust and debris, any necessary medications, first aid supplies, money and credit or debit cards, and an emergency whistle.
- Always keep the gas tank half full – In case they need to evacuate after the earthquake, make sure your loved one keeps their car’s gas tank at least half full at all times.
- Keep canes, walkers, and other aids close by at all times – If your senior needs to get to safety, there may only be seconds to react. Having their walking aid close by at all times will give them the best chance at protecting themselves during an earthquake.
- Consider buying an earthquake alarm – Earthquake alarms detect seismic activity and warn residents with a loud noise when they sense an earthquake coming. These alarms are a useful tool that can save your loved one precious seconds before the shaking starts.
- Set up emergency lights around the house – You can purchase special emergency lights that plug into the wall and automatically turn on when the power goes out. Earthquakes frequently cause power loss, and having these lights set up in every room can make getting around much easier and safe for your loved one.
- Make a plan – Walk through you or your loved one’s home and designate safety areas in each room, like underneath a sturdy table or desk. If there isn’t anything to take cover under, look for places out of reach of falling items and broken glass. Make sure your loved one knows how to shut off the gas or utilities if they notice any damage after an earthquake. If you live with your senior, decide on a safe meeting place to find each other once the shaking stops. If they live alone, make it standard procedure to have you and one other person get in touch with them after an earthquake to check in and ensure their safety. Go over your emergency action plan a few times a year to make sure everyone knows what to do if the worst should happen.
- Download the Rescu app – Having a mobile alert system like the Rescu app will allow your loved one to get help fast if a fire breaks out or they sustain any injuries during an earthquake. Just two taps on their mobile device instantly connects them with whatever emergency services they need.
A clear plan of action and emergency preparedness can make all the difference in preventing accidents from happening during an earthquake.
What to Do During an Earthquake
Now that you and your loved one know how to prepare, it’s time to put your plan into action. Public safety officials encourage people to use the Drop, Cover, and Hold method to protect themselves during an earthquake:
- Drop – Drop to the ground as soon as possible to avoid falls. Depending on the severity of the earthquake, there may only be a few seconds before your loved one loses balance and falls over.
- Cover – Take cover under something sturdy like a table or desk. If there’s nothing to get under, your loved one should crouch down and shield their head with their arms. If they’re in bed, they can turn face down and protect their head with a pillow. This part of the process is why it’s important to go through each room in the house and identify safe areas to use for cover.
- Hold – Trying to move or make it outside could result in a bad fall or worse. Wherever your loved one hunkers down, it’s critical that they stay there until the quake stops.
Staying Safe After an Earthquake
Once the shaking stops, it’s important to keep in mind that aftershocks may occur. Your loved one should be ready to use the Drop, Cover, and Hold method again for any subsequent quakes.
The first thing they should do after an earthquake is check to see if they’re okay. Once they’ve ensured their safety, they can check in with you and the rest of the family.
If the power went out, they can access their safety kit for their flashlight, radio, and use their cell phone to let everyone know of their situation.
It’s also crucial to check for any damage to the gas lines or utilities. If they notice something wrong, they can switch the power off themselves. Or, if they’re unable to, you or a family member can do it for them once it’s safe to travel again.
If falling debris or shifting furniture trapped them in place, or if they were injured during the earthquake, they can notify a family member by phone or send for help immediately with the Rescu app.
Stay Prepared for Earthquake Awareness Month With Rescu
After an earthquake, dust and debris can fill the air, making it difficult to breathe. If you or a loved one become trapped, talking to 911 dispatchers can cause you to inhale harmful particles and make a bad situation worse.
With Rescu, getting help after an earthquake requires no talking at all, just two simple taps on any smartphone. And you can add yourself as an emergency contact, so if your loved one sends an alert through the app, you’ll be notified automatically.
Take time this Earthquake Awareness Month to go over your emergency strategy with your loved one, or put one together if you haven’t yet. Set up those security lights, build those safety kits, and download the Rescu app to create a strong, well-rounded action plan. Click here to learn more about the fastest way to get help in an emergency.