When an earthquake shakes and rattles your world, there are three parts of your body that are particularly vulnerable: your head, feet, and eyes. When the earth shakes, everything shakes, and that includes shelves, cupboards, appliances, mirrors, office equipment, and anything mounted on a wall. As those things come tumbling down, and shattering, not only are you dealing with the fear factor but also dodging falling objects and trying to get to safety quickly.
An earthquake doesn’t announce itself like a hurricane, so when you begin feeling tremors, you have only seconds to act. To protect your head, along with the rest of your body, dive under the nearest sturdy table or desk. Once the rattling stops, you’re still not safe from falling beams, ceiling tiles, light fixtures, etc. Believe it or not, an inexpensive hard hat, stored in an accessible location, may turn out to be your best friend. You’d be surprised by how many injuries during an earthquake are caused, not by people falling through fissures in the earth (that’s 100% Hollywood!) but by the ordinary injury of being knocked on the head by a lamp or a flying copy of a Tom Clancy book.
Anything breakable is a likely casualty during an earthquake, and as heart-breaking as it might be to discover the shattered remains of your favorite china or Grandma’s collection of porcelain dolls, a more serious casualty could be your feet. Unless you wear shoes 24/7, there’s a good chance you’ll be barefoot. Many earthquake-savvy Californians have learned to always keep a pair of shoes at their bedside, specifically for this reason. If your feet are cut and bleeding, you’ll have a much harder time getting to safety, much less helping other members of your family. Here’s where a pair of Crocs might come in handy. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are great for slipping on, they’re wide enough to allow for thick socks (important if you’re dealing with chilly temperatures), and because of their sizing and design, it takes a while for kids to outgrow them. No, they aren’t Red Wing work boots, but neither are they $200+. If you have panicking children nearby, your first thought will be to get to them, even if it means walking over broken glass, so protect those feet!
So how is protecting your eyes important in an earthquake? Well, I’m not going to suggest having safety goggles handy, but I am highly recommending keeping a pair of eyeglasses or your contact lens case close by, always. I’m particularly sensitive to this because one thing you probably don’t know about me is that my eyes are about as sharp as a naked mole rat’s. One optometrist told me that my vision was in the 20/800 range (compare those numbers to the ideal 20/20). In layman’s terms, that’s blind! If you wear contacts or eyeglasses, even if your vision is better than mine, you absolutely must have your glasses or contacts within arm’s reach, especially at night. When the earth starts shaking and you hear glass breaking (and kids screaming), you can’t afford to be stumbling around, unable to see potential hazards. If you can’t see those hazards, you may be in more danger than you realize. Make it a habit to keep those eyeglasses or your contact case right next to your bedside, and preferably in a drawer where they can’t slide off.
For more information about preparing for an earthquake, check out these links.
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