Earthquakes can be a terrifying experience for anyone who has experienced them, especially children who may not understand what is going on. The following is an explanation of earthquakes and the safety steps that should be taken in the event of this type of natural disaster.
Earthquakes are caused by plates underneath the surface of the earth shifting their position. In certain areas, two of these plates are shifting at the same time, creating friction and leading to an eventual break. An earthquake is the vibration that is felt as a result of this break.
One area in the United States that experiences earthquakes is the San Andreas Fault in California. It runs from Northern California to the Gulf of California and minor movement is detected here thousands of times annually, although many of these are not felt by the residents in the nearby areas. The largest earthquake in United States history occurred in 1906 because of movement at this fault line, affecting San Francisco and killing approximately 3,000 people. This earthquake caused around $400 million in damage.
Since earthquakes happen quite suddenly, you should make sure that your children know what to do in case they are ever caught in one. You can teach them the "drop, cover, and hold on" safety method. If they are inside during an earthquake, they should keep calm and climb under a heavy object such as a desk or table. They should hold onto the object until the shaking has passed. The children should avoid windows and any objects that could fall on them, such as a cabinet or locker. If the children are outdoors, they should move away from street lights and utility poles as well as buildings.
If they are caught in a public place, the children should again climb under something heavy. You should explain to them not to try to exit the building as many people will be attempting to leave at the same time. They should also not enter an elevator during an earthquake or right after, as the aftershocks can cause damage as well.
If you and your family are driving when a tremor strikes, you should try to pull over into an area that does not have wires or poles above your vehicle. Remain calm and wait the tremor out before proceeding on your way. If you are in a mountainous area, you may also need to avoid falling rocks and other debris that has been loosened by the quake.
Immediately after an earthquake, there are aftershocks, as was mentioned earlier. These are minor earthquakes follow a major one in the same general location. Your children should remain undercover until they are sure that the aftershocks are finished as well.
After the earthquake, there are still a variety of safety measures that your children need to be aware of. If they are at home and hear a hissing noise or smell fumes, they should leave the house immediately and call for help. This noise and smell could be a broken gas line that could explode or lead to a serious fire. If they are going outside, they should be sure to wear shoes as there is probably broken glass and other foreign debris lying in the streets.
Earthquakes are one of the most deadly natural occurrences due to the fact that there is almost no advanced warning when they occur. By teaching your children the "drop, cover, and hold on" safety method, they will be able to take care of themselves in case they are caught in an earthquake.