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Consulate of Belgium in Los Angeles 
Consulate General of Belgium in Los Angeles
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    What to Do in Case of a Strong Earthquake



    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:


    Consulate General of Belgium in Los Angeles

    6100 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1200

    Los Angeles, CA 90048

    Tel: + 1 (323) 857-1244

    Fax: + 1 (323) 936-2564


    In case the Consulate cannot be reached for some reason, please contact the Embassy of Belgium in Washington DC.


    Embassy of Belgium in Washington DC
    3330 Garfield Street NW
    Washington, DC 20008

    Tel : + 1 (202) 333-6900

    Fax : + 1 (202) 338-4960


    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.


    In case of an earthquake it is recommended to act as following: Be aware of the possibility of aftershocks which may cause additional damage. Pay attention to preventive security. Consult: and



    The seven steps to earthquake safety, as described by the American authorities





    1.                  Identify possible hazards in your home and begin to fix them


    §         Secure anything heavy enough to hurt you if it falls on you, or fragile or expensive enough to be a significant loss if it falls.

    §         Secure cabinet doors in the kitchen.

    §         Secure TVs, stereos, computers etc. with nylon straps and buckles for easy removal and relocation. Secure smaller items with earthquake putty.

    §         Mirrors, framed objects etc. should be hung from closed hooks.

    §         Secure the tops of all top-heavy furniture to a wall.

    §         Secure water heaters according to earthquake standards.

    §         Move flammable or hazardous materials to lower shelves or the floor in the garage or utility room.


    Consult for additional information.


    2.                  Create a disaster-preparedness plan


    §         Practice “drop, cover, and hold on”.

    §         Keep shoes and a working flashlight next to each bed.

    §         Take a Red Cross first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training course.

    §         Make sure you know how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity to your home.

    §         Get a fire extinguisher for your home, and learn how to use it properly.

    §         Select a safe place outside of your home to meet your family or housemates after the shaking stops.

    §         Designate an out-of-area contact person who can be called by everyone in the household to relay information (the Consulate can take on this role).

    §         Keep copies of essential documents in a secure, waterproof container, and keep with your disaster supplies kits

    §         Determine where you might live if your home cannot be occupied after an earthquake.


    Consult for additional information


    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).

    §         Emergency cash.

    §         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.).


    Consult: for additional information.


    4.                  Identify your building’s potential weaknesses and begin to fix them


    §         Bolts in the mudsills of the foundation should be no more than 1.8 meters (6 feet) apart in a single story and 1.2 meters (4 feet) apart in a multistory building.

    §         Homes with a crawl space should have panels of plywood connecting the studs of the short “cripple” walls.

    §         Larger openings in the lower floor, such as garage doors, should be adequately braced.

    §         All masonry and chimneys should be reinforced.

    §         Consult a professional contractor for the above works.

    §         As a renter, ask your landlord what retrofitting has been done on the building, whether the water heaters have been strapped to the wall studs, and whether you can secure furniture to the walls.


    Consult for additional information.



    During and after the earthquake


    5.                  Protect yourself during earthquake shaking – drop, cover, and hold on


    §         If you are indoors, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly.

    §         If you are not near a desk or table, drop to the floor against the interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms.

    §         If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.

    §         Avoid exterior walls and do not go outside.

    §         If you are outdoors, move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards.

    §         If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake.


    Consult for additional information.


    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.


    Consult for additional information.


    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.

    §         Consult


    If you cannot stay in your home…


    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:


    Federal Emergency Management Agency:

    The Governor’ of California’s Office of Emergency Services:

    American Red Cross – Greater Los Angeles:

    American Red Cross – Bay Area Chapter:


    L.A. County Office of Emergency Management:

    L.A. County Disaster Communications Service:

    County of Los Angeles Fire Department:

    San Francisco Department of Emergency Management:


    Washington State Military Department Emergency management Division

    Seattle – King County Office of Emergency Management

    Seattle City Office of Emergency Management


    Colorado State Division of Emergency Management

    Denver (City/County) Office of Emergency Management


    Oregon Emergency Management

    City of Portland Office of Emergency Management

    Portland - Multnomah County Emergency Management



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