Earthquake Tips - Before, During and After
Seventy million people in 39 states are at high risk from earthquakes. People in all states, however, are at some risk. Earthquakes can cause buildings to collapse, disrupt utilities and trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, hazardous materials spills, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Since 1840 more than 900 earthquakes have been felt in Oregon.
On March 25, 1993, at 5:34 AM, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake occurred near Scotts Mills, Marion County, Oregon which is approximately 32 miles south of Portland and 21 miles northeast of Salem. Although considered moderate, in both terms of magnitude/intensity and damage, it was Marion County's largest earthquake in recent recorded history and cause $25-30 million in damages. No serious injuries were reported.
Oregon overall does have a history of earthquake activity, primarily in the moderate 5-6 magnitude range. During the last 120 years, Oregon has experienced 15 shocks of 5.0 or higher on the Richter scale which means that Oregon, on average, experiences a "moderate" earthquake ever 8 years. This is considerable activity for a state that has not traditionally been considered to be at risk for earthquakes. Most had little or no effect on Marion County until the Scotts Mills earthquake.
Before an Earthquake
Identify safe spots and danger zones in each room.
Know where and how to shut off all utilities.
Be sure your house is firmly anchored to it’s foundation.
Anchor overhead lighting fixtures.
Store bottles foods, gas, china, and other breakables on low shelves or in cabinets that can fasten shut.
Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
Fasten shelves to walls. Brace high and top-heavy objects.
Repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas and inflexible utility connections.
Securely fasten water heaters and gas appliances.
During an Earthquake
If indoors - take cover under sturdy furniture or against an inside wall, and hold on, “Drop, Cover,
and Hold”. Stay away from the kitchen!
If outdoors - stay there. Move away from buildings, street lights, and utility wires.
In a high rise building- take cover under sturdy furniture away from windows and outside walls.
Stay in the building on the same floor. An evacuation may not be necessary. Wait for instructions from safety personnel. Do not use elevators.
In a vehicle - stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses or utility wires.
After an Earthquake
Check for injuries - yourself and those around you.
Be prepared for aftershocks.
Wear sturdy shoes in areas covered with fallen debris and broken glass.
If the electricity is out, use flashlights or battery powered lanterns.
Check the main control panel.
If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound - open a window and leave the building. Shut off the main gas valve outside.
If water pipes are damaged, shut off the water supply at the main valve.
Check your home for structural damage. Check chimneys for damage.
Clean up spilled medicines, bleached, gasoline, and other flammable liquids.
Visually inspect utility lines and appliances for damage.
Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.
Open cabinets cautiously. Be aware of objects that can fall off shelves.
Use the phone only to report a life threatening emergency.
Listen to news reports for the latest emergency information.
Stay off the streets.
Stay away from damaged areas, unless your assistance has been specifically requested by proper authorities.