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After an Earthquake

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Immediately after a minor earthquake (brief rolling motion)

  • Remain calm.
  • Treat any injuries or seek professional medical care. Small wounds should be washed with soap and water and then bandaged to reduce the risk of infection. Replace bandages as needed.
  • Examine your area for damage.
  • Report damage or releases of hazardous materials to a supervisor. Also report damages to the Physical Plant at 540-231-4300 or Facilities Services at 540-231-4300.
  • Evacuations are unlikely but use common sense and evacuate if you feel it is necessary.
  • Await instructions from supervisors or emergency personnel.

Immediately after a major earthquake (violent shaking)

  • Remain calm.
  • Treat any injuries or seek professional medical care. Small wounds should be washed with soap and water and then bandaged to reduce the risk of infection. Replace bandages as needed.
  • Dial 911 to report major injuries to emergency personnel.
  • Assist others as trained.
  • Take emergency supplies and evacuate carefully and calmly.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Be alert for aftershocks.
  • Meet at your designated assembly point, as determined in your department’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP).
  • Do not enter buildings until they are examined and considered safe by emergency personnel. If a structure bears a color-coded sign, do not enter it until you get official information about what the sign means and advice about the safety of entering.
  • Await instructions from supervisors and emergency personnel.

Aftershocks and tsunamis

  • Be aware that earthquakes may continue after the initial tremor. Be alert and expect aftershocks. Each time you feel an aftershock, drop, cover, and hold on. Aftershocks are often less violent than the main earthquake. However, they can be strong enough to damage weakened structures. Though they often occur in the few first hours after the initial earthquake, they can also happen after days, weeks, or even months have passed.
  • If you are in coastal areas, be aware of possible tsunamis. When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of large, dangerous waves could strike your area. Evacuate if time permits. Otherwise shelter-in-place and stay away from the beach.

Stay informed, get assistance, and help others

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information. Use landline and mobile telephones only for emergency calls.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid before trying to assist others.
  • Help dependents, such as children, elderly, and pets. Check on neighbors and others who may require special assistance. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move anyone who is seriously injured unless he/she is in immediate danger of further injury. Call 911 for emergency help.

Returning to normalcy

  • Return to your home or workspace only when public safety officials declare the area or the structure safe. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by emergency personnel.
  • When checking your surroundings for damage, wear protective gear such as long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes or work boots, and thick work gloves to protect against injury. Be cautious and stay away from areas that appear hazardous.
  • Look for damage in and around the building. Evacuate the building if it is unsafe. Extinguish small fires (defined as the size of a waste basket or smaller). Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake. Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage as unnoticed damage could cause a fire.
  • Examine walls, floors, doors, staircases, and windows. Open cabinets cautiously and beware of objects that can fall off shelves. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, or other flammable liquids immediately (use a MSDS to determine proper cleanup). Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals and seek professional help. If you are on the Blacksburg campus, call Environmental Health and Safety at 540- 231-3600.
  • Report any damage or any releases of hazardous materials to supervisors. Also report any damage to the Physical Plant (540-231-4300) or Facilities Services (540-231-4300).