In case of a strong earthquake in the Western United States, the Consulate General of Belgium in Los Angeles offers assistance to Belgian citizens. In order to facilitate the flow of information and possible assistance, it is advisable, in case of a strong earthquake, to contact the Consulate General of Belgium in Los Angeles to inform us whether or not you and your family members are hurt:
In any case, call a family member or a close friend in Belgium and inform them briefly about your status.
Check the travel advice on the website of the Belgian Foreign Affairs (click here) for latest information (in Dutch or in French).
The west coast of the United States is situated on the San Andreas fault-line and has suffered various strong earthquakes in the past. The American authorities point to the high risk of a strong earthquake in the Western United States in the coming 30 years. Even though an earthquake is to a high degree unpredictable, the American authorities point to the importance of good preparation and prevention, by studying the seven steps described below.
3.Prepare disaster supplies kits for your home, car and work
Include at least the following items:
§Medications and important medical information.
§First aid kit and handbook.
§Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses.
§Bottled water and snacks.
§Whistle (to alert rescuers to your location).
§List of emergency out-of-)area contact phone numbers.
§Working flashlight with extra batteries and light bulbs.
§Personal hygiene supplies.
§Copies of personal identification documents.
§In addition to your personal disaster supplies kits, store a household disaster supplies kit to last at least 3 days and ideally for 2 weeks (supply of water, food, radio, protective goggles, work gloves, road maps, matches, etc.).
6.After the earthquake, check for injuries and damage
Check for injuries:
§If a person is bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound and elevate the injured part. Use clean gauze or cloth, if available.
§If a person is not breathing, administer rescue breathing.
§If a person has no pulse, begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
§Carefully check children or others needing special assistance.
§Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
§Get medical help for serious injuries.
§If you are trapped by falling items or a collapse, protect your mouth, nose, and eyes from dust. Signal for help with your emergency whistle, a cell phone, or knock loudly on solid pieces of building, three times every few minutes. Once you are safe, put on protective clothing, help others and check for damage.
Check for damage:
§If possible, put out small fires immediately.
§Shut off the main gas valve only if you suspect a leak. Wait for the gas company to turn it back on.
§Shut off power at the main breaker switch if there is any damage to your house wiring. Unplug broken lights and appliances as they could start fires when electricity is restored.
§Spills of potentially harmful materials such as bleach, chemicals and gasoline should be covered with dirt or cat litter.
§Stay away from chimneys and walls made of brick or block. Don’t use a fireplace with a damaged chimney.
§Stay away from downed power lines or any objects in contact with them.
7.When safe, continue to follow your disaster preparedness plan
The first days after the earthquake…
§Until you are sure there are no gas leaks, don’t use open flames ore operate any electrical or mechanical device that can create a spark. Never use camp stoves, gas lanterns or heaters, gas or charcoal grills, or gas generators indoors as they can release deadly carbon monoxide or be a fire hazard in aftershocks.
§Turn on your portable or car radio for information and safety
§Call advisories.your out-of-area contact, tell them your status, then stay off the phone so the phone lines are available for life-saving communications.
§Check on the condition of your neighbors.
§If power if off, plan meals to use refrigerated and frozen foods first.
§If your water is off or unsafe, you can drink from water heaters, melted ice cubes, or canned vegetables.
§Report damage to your local building department and to the local emergency services.
As shelters may be overcrowded and initially lack basic services, do not leave home just because utilities are out of service or your home and its contents have suffered moderate damage. If you do evacuate, tell a neighbor and your out-of-area contact where you are going. Take your personal disaster supplies kit and other essential items.
Useful information links to prepare for an earthquake: