What to do during an earthquake

OKLAHOMA CITY - What is that?

That was the wide-eyed look my girlfriend and I gave each other Saturday night when the 5.6 quake struck just before 11 Saturday night in Lincoln County.

We were in an Oklahoma City hotel with our four kids combined for my son's soccer tournament this weekend.

As the rumbling continued, we quickly realized what was happening. We both jumped to our feet and raced into the other part of the suite where the kids were sleeping.

Four sets of eyes stared back at us - it woke them up. They were okay, but a little on edge as none had ever experienced that kind of shaking. Though my 6-year-old son would later tell me he thought it was "kinda cool."

After we got the kids secure, I started thinking about what you're supposed to do during an earthquake.

We're not versed on earthquakes in Oklahoma. Tornadoes? Sure, almost every Okie knows what to do when a twister is coming his way. But quakes? It's a mystery to many of us.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, here is what you should do inside and outside when a tremblor strikes:

Indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn't a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection..
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

Outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

For more tips on earthquakes such as being prepared or what to do after one strikes go to www.ready.gov/earthquakes .

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