When the shaking starts, AVOID the temptation to try run to your children (or to have your children run to you) because you won’t be able to stay on your feet and you are very likely to be injured if you try to run or remain standing in a major quake. Instead, teach your children to:
1) Remain in bed and get into the fetal position with their covers over their body
2) Hold their pillow tightly over their head and neck with one hand/arm
3) Hang on to the side of the mattress with their other hand and remain in that position until the shaking stops.
When the shaking stops, have them carefully roll back the covers to keep any broken glass or debris away from their body. Have them practice reaching under their bed to retrieve their shoes – without getting out of bed. If they can’t see their shoes have them light the light stick. While still in bed, they should shake out their shoes like they would shake out sand at the beach, before putting them on, in case glass or debris fell into them. If there is a lot of airborne dust and debris tell them that they should put on the dust mask from their mini disaster kit. If not seriously hurt and it is safe to do so, tell them to evacuate to your family reunification spot outside your home (with their mini disaster kit in hand, and the light stick lighting the way, if needed).
Assemble several mini-disaster preparedness kits for yourself and your family. To make a kit, you’ll need a quart-sized zip-close bag plastic bag, a light stick, a whistle, a space blanket, and a dust mask.
If you are in the dark when the shaking stops, you can use the light stick to locate your shoes under your bed and/or to light the way as you evacuate. UNLIKE A FLASHLIGHT OR CELL PHONE, A LIGHT STICK WON’T EMIT A SPARK THAT CAN IGNITE LEAKING GAS. Set a reminder in your cell phone so that every Halloween your children can practice opening, lighting, and using a light stick to evacuate your home in the dark as practice for what they may need to do after a quake. They can use the lighted stick for safety while Trick-or-Treating and it will remind you to replace the light stick(s) in your disaster kits.
Teach your children that if they are trapped in bed or their bedroom, they should use the space blanket from their mini disaster kit to protect themselves from sun, wind, rain, or cold and they should drink the bottled water whenever they are thirsty.
The dust mask in your kit should be worn to protect your nose and mouth from inhaling debris that could fall on you during the course of a rescue. (It can also be given to rescuers to protect them from inhaling debris.)
If they are trapped after an earthquake, let your children know that they should periodically blow the whistle in their kit three times (for “I need help!”), especially when they hear potential rescuers nearby.
Information courtesy of Irene D. Long.
Irene Long is a high-tech executive and management consultant with more than two decades experience delivering client-need-focused products, services, and advice to leading retail executives, systems developers, and financial institutions.