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Earthquake safety tips

SAN DIEGO - In the aftermath of the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that gave the San Diego area a long, hard jostling on Sunday, the city Fire-Rescue Department urged residents today to make sure they are as prepared as possible for an even more severe temblor sometime in the future.

The agency advises residents to ready themselves for serious quakes by taking the following precautions: -- Identify safe spots to ride out temblors at home and work. Examples include underneath sturdy tables or desks, beneath well-supported doorways and inside small rooms or hallways.

-- Establish an out-of-town contact who can coordinate family members' locations and information in case you become separated from loved ones.

-- Make sure everyone in the home knows emergency telephone numbers and addresses.

-- Prepare family disaster-supply kits and keep them in the home and car. The packs should include a flashlight, batteries, a radio, water, a three- day supply of non-perishable food, medicine, a backup set of keys and extra clothing.

-- Take a first-aid class from a local Red Cross chapter, and keep your training current.

-- Eliminate home hazards by bolting bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs; remove any unsecured items, such as mirrors, from over beds; install strong latches on cupboards; and strap the water heater to wall studs.

During an earthquake, people inside buildings should: -- Use the ''drop, cover and hold'' technique -- drop to the ground under a table or desk, cover your head and neck with your arm as protection from flying debris, and hold on to a table or desk leg to keep the furniture from sliding away.

-- Avoid taking cover by windows, near heavy furnishings that can tip over or in doorways with metal frames.

If outdoors when a quake strikes, you should: -- Stay away from buildings, trees, streetlights and power lines.

-- Crouch down and cover your head.

-- If inside a vehicle, park away from the aforementioned objects, avoid bridges and stay inside with your seat belt fastened until the ground stops shaking.

After an earthquake, people in affected areas should: -- Stay indoors until you hear an official announcement that the quake has ended.

-- Check yourself and others for injuries.

-- Check your home for damage and report any problems to the appropriate authorities.

-- Look for and extinguish any small fires and eliminate potential combustion hazards.

-- Turn off the gas if you think it's leaking (and remember that only a professional should turn it back on).

-- If your home seems unsafe, get everyone outside.

-- Monitor news reports for updates.

-- Protect yourself from further danger by putting on long pants, a long- sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves.

-- Use the phone only to report life-threatening emergencies.

-- Expect aftershocks. Each time you feel one, use the drop, cover and hold technique.

Sunday's earthquake, one of the strongest to hit the region in history, struck about 3:40 p.m. and was centered in Baja California, roughly 37 miles south-southeast of Mexicali. It resulted in two deaths, scores of injuries and widespread property damage, including collapsed homes, south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Minor problems around San Diego County included jammed doors, water leaks, cracked walls and broken windows, authorities said. A Julian resident got a lump on the head when the shaking ground knocked an item off a shelf in a store, and a Chula Vista man was hurt when he fell while running out of his home.

Pat Abbott, a professor emeritus of geology at San Diego State University, said locals should expect to feel aftershocks for at least 72 hours after the initial quake.


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