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What to do after a tremor if ... You are at home

Published:Thursday | January 22, 2015 | 1:00 AM

You are at home

Put on heavy-soled shoes: If you are barefooted, put on shoes before you walk anywhere after an earthquake.

Check for injuries: Check yourself and other family members for injuries and seek medical attention for serious conditions.

Do not use the telephones unless there is a serious injury: Rescue workers will need all available lines. If the receiver is off the hook, replace it. Do not jiggle the hook if you do not get a dial tone as this could further jam the wires.

Check for fires: If possible one person or group should check for injuries while another immediately checks for fires. Do not light matches or candles as naked flames can ignite leaking gas and spilled flammable products. If you smell gas or have reason to suspect that lines might be broken, immediately disconnect the cylinder.

Check stairs before using them: Stairs may have

weakened after an earthquake; when evacuating, check these carefully before placing your full weight on them.

Check the building: Carefully inspect the interior and exterior of the building. Look for cracks in the walls, shifted posts or pillars, and cracks in porches and sidewalks. If you see anything other than minor cracks, evacuate the building immediately and do not re-enter the building until a professional has checked it for safety.

Assist your neighbours: Once your home is secure, check with your neighbours to see if they need assistance.

Listen to the radio: Listen to your radio for evacuation orders and other information.

You are away from home

Stay where you are: If you are in your car, at a movie or store, or some place where you do not feel safe, you will probably try to go home. Stay where you are for a while and wait for aftershocks and information on the radio. Remember that aftershocks, particularly those following a big earthquake, can cause a lot of damage. Overpasses, bridges and some buildings might survive the main shock, but fall during an aftershock.

Do not drive unless: You are away from tall buildings and bridges, and then your driving should only be to safety or to render assistance. The roads should be kept open for emergency vehicles. When you arrive home, do not rush in. Look at the building from a distance for damage; if it looks okay make a closer inspection. If it still looks undamaged, open the door and smell for gas. If you don't smell gas, enter and check for other fire hazards.

You are in the dark

Recall your location: If you find yourself alone in the dark after an earthquake, take a few minutes to recall the location of exits and the layout of the building.

Plan your escape route: Plan your escape route and then move slowly, using your hands to guide you. If you heard the sound of breaking glass during the earthquake, wrap your hands in a jacket or other material to protect them. Carefully exit the building, take cover if there are any aftershocks and be alert for the smell of leaking gas.