Following last week's string of minor earthquakes in Arkansas, a powerful tremor rocked New Zealand on Feb. 22, killing at least 75 people and injuring hundreds more. Prime Minister John Key described it as the "darkest day" in the nation's history.
Scientists are unable to predict where and when an earthquake is going to hit, so it is important to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster. California's Department of Conservation (DOC) recommends that residents stock up on the bare essentials — such as food, water, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a portable radio and flashlights — because electricity, water, gas and telephone may not be in service after an earthquake.
Aside from securing heavy appliances to the ground or to wall studs, homeowners should also place hazardous materials in safe locations. For example, the DOC suggested that small, breakable objects and flammable liquids should be kept on low shelves or in secure cabinets.
Although the indoor procedure during an earthquake is well-known — get under a sturdy table or door frame while avoiding windows and outside walls — some people are apt to panic if they are outdoors and away from their families. However, the DOC advises individuals to get into an open space to avoid buildings, power lines or any other structures that could potentially fall.
If a person is in a car during a tremblor, Weather.com says that the driver should immediately move the vehicle out of traffic and park in an open area away from a bridge or an overpass. The passengers should then remain in the car until the shaking ceases, keeping in mind that aftershocks typically follow the initial earthquake.