For those of us who live in an earthquake-prone area, knowing what to do once the ground starts moving isn’t optional -- it’s required to stay safe during these scary events. Today, we’re going to simplify things and list out the three main tips to keep in mind the next time a tremblor happens.

Tip #1 - Find Cover And Hold On

There is no piece of earthquake safety advice more crucial than this one. In an earthquake, the majority of injuries and fatalities occur from falling objects. These include things like bookshelves, heavy furniture, pieces of the ceiling, appliances, and light fixtures.

You should have an idea in mind, starting right this second, of the sturdiest piece of furniture in your house or apartment that you can crawl under if an earthquake starts to occur. This should be something like a kitchen table or heavy writing desk that is well-made, bulky, and unlikely to break from objects falling on top of it.

If an earthquake begins to take place, you should immediately seek out this cover, get under it, and hold onto one of the legs while curling into a ball and covering the back of your head and neck with your other hand. The reason for holding on is simple: many people who have not been in a major earthquake before do not realize the severity of the shaking, which can actually slide you out from under your hiding place if you’re not holding on.

Tip #2 - Stay Indoors

Continuing on Tip #1, it’s critical that you stay indoors during an earthquake. In recent years, building code laws in earthquake-prone areas have required both new construction and existing structures to be able to withstand even an incredibly violent earthquake. That means that the odds of your entire home crumbling down on top of you are very, very low. Again: the majority of casualties in earthquakes come from falling objects, not collapsing buildings.

For some people, they think that running outdoors gets them away from all the falling objects in their home. But they’re forgetting things like power lines, trees, and external fixtures on buildings like balconies or air conditioning units that can fall at a moment’s notice. There is no question that it is safer to remain indoors during an earthquake, unless there is imminent danger inside such as a fire.

Tip #3 - Be Prepared

Finally, once you’ve survived the earthquake, you’ll still need to deal with the coming hours, days, and even weeks of societal disruption that can occur. Civic services like fire departments and disaster relief agencies will be stretched extremely thin after a disaster. You should always be prepared to remain self-sufficient for yourself and your family for at least a while in the aftermath of an emergency.

This means having two main things on hand: an emergency survival kit with basic tools you’ll need access to; and a few days’ supply of canned or non-perishable food and bottled water. Remember, after a serious earthquake, the power will be out, appliances will be broken, and restaurants certainly won’t be continuing business as usual. In fact, you might not even be able to get water out of your taps.

Just a bit of forethought and preparation can totally change the level of comfort -- and even survivability -- after a major earthquake.

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