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Earthquakes are part of reality and in some areas can occur often. Most earthquakes are not serious and only produce minor shaking, but when a serious earthquake occurs, you need to be prepared. The destruction and damage left behind will interfere with your normal actives. Phone service, electricity, gas and water services may all be disabled. Since earthquakes cannot be prevented, being prepared is your best defense.

There are several steps that can help during an emergency situation. A serious earthquake is a definite emergency.

- Know how to turn off the gas, water and electricity to your home.

- Create your own emergency kit. It can be tailored to fit your needs, but there are some basics that should not be forgotten.
-- A flashlight, batteries, candles, matches, battery powered radio, first aid kit, bottled water, canned food, blankets, any necessary tools. Keep the kit in an accessible location.

It is important that your family knows what to do should an earthquake occur. Discuss a plan with your family and practice the drill. Go over which locations are considered safe and which are not. You should also discuss what to if someone is outside during an earthquake.

Indoors- Safe areas are where items are least likely to fall and break. Doorways, under furniture and the corners of rooms are the safest. Stay clear of windows and items that can fall.

Outdoors- Open areas are the safest locations outdoors. Power lines, trees, and buildings are all potential hazards. Stay as far away from them as possible.

Driving- In the event that you are driving while an earthquake occurs, pull over and avoid bridges or overpasses. Stay in the vehicle until the earthquake stops.

After an earthquake check that everyone is safe. Knowing CPR and basic first aid techniques can be lifesavers if someone is injured.

Check the safety of the gas, water and electrical supplies. If possible, also check the local news for updates, cautions and advisories.

Be sure to inspect that the structure of your home is safe and that the earthquake did not damage its foundation. Do not be surprised if aftershocks from the quake occur. Try to remain calm and keep everything under control.