Be prepared for the next quake!

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck near Westwood early this morning, shaking up the southland. The quake started at 6:25 a.m. and an aftershock hit about an hour later. Although the earthquake was not disastrous, it is important to be prepared for when a disaster does strike.

Here are a few steps from to make sure you remain safe:

  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items in closed cabinets with latches.
  • Fasten heavy items securely to walls and away from beds.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
  • Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
  • Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.
  • It is also important to talk about disasters with your family. Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones. Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there in case an evacuation is needed. Plan what you would pack and practice evacuating once a year. Lastly, make sure you include pets and important documents in your evacuation plan.