California's Office of Emergency Services recommends to check yourself first for injuries after an earthquake strikes before you attempt to help others. Don't try to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. And remember to drop, cover, and hold in the event of an aftershock.
Here are seven other key things to remember after a quake strikes:
Do Not Use The Phone
Unless there is an immediate, life-threatening emergency, do not use the phone, or electrical switches or appliances. Sparks can ignite gas. Phone lines are also frequently overwhelmed in disaster situations and they should be clear for emergency calls to get through, California's Seismic Safety Commission advises.
Use Battery-Powered Equipment
Listen to a portable, battery-powered radio or television and use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns.
Don't Turn Off Gas at the Meter Unless You Suspect a Leak
Check for a gas leak. If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, or see a broken gas line, evacuate the building, PG&E advises. Find a phone away from the building -- perhaps a neighbor's home -- before calling your utility or 911. If you any one of these conditions is met and the situation is safe, turn off the gas shutoff valve near the gas meter. But DO NOT shut off the gas service shutoff valve near the gas meter if you do not suspect a gas leak. That's because there could be a big delay before the utility turns your gas back on, PG&E says.
Dress for Protection:
Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, sturdy shoes and work gloves can help protect you from getting hurt by broken objects.
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Stay Out of Damaged Buildings
Inspect your home for damage and get everyone out if you determine it isn't safe. Damaged buildings may be destroyed during aftershocks. California's Seismic Safety Commission says to check walls, doors, floors, the ceiling, staircases, and windows to make sure your building is structurally sound. Watch for loose plaster or drywall. Be on the lookout as well for cracks and damage to chimneys and foundations.
Stay Away from Downed or Damaged Power Lines
Never touch wires lying on the ground or hanging from poles. Downed wires could kill you if touched, PG&E warns.
Taking photos of your house and property can help with insurance claims.