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    Situational Awareness Training: How To Be More Observant

    By David Simpson

    With information comes misinformation. Prepping has been around for years, but it has grown in popularity recently thanks to television shows and magazine stories. As a result, more people are aware of how to begin preparing for a disaster. Unfortunately, not everything is accurate.

    For example, simply buying gear and wandering into the woods will not make anyone a survivalist, so before you’re forced to make the decision to either stay in place or leave your home following an emergency, you should get to know a few simple facts.

    Learn situational awareness

    From a domestic point of view, if you’re facing disasters that are threatening your family and home, you will eventually have to make the decision to stay or go, and that choice involves quite a few factors requiring “situational awareness.” Situational awareness simply refers to your knowledge of what you have and how well you’re capable of dealing with the problems and threats around you.

    Situational awareness will be easier to understand if you break it down into its three main areas: self-preparedness, surroundings and resources.

    1. Step 1: Self-preparedness

      Being prepared means more than stockpiling gear. It also involves looking at things like your overall health, mobility, skill level, and your capability to physically and mentally cope with the situation at hand. I use the term “self,” but in the case of a family unit, you really have to look at everyone involved as one main entity. Examples of how self-preparedness impacts you are best seen when deciding to leave your home in an emergency. If you bug out, each person must be capable of mobility because your group only moves as quickly as the slowest person. The group also has to be capable of transporting its resources, which can present additional considerations.
      For instance, when transporting by vehicle, you must ask whether yours is capable of transporting the number of people you have, along with the supplies you need to reach minimum safety.
      As any parent who has brought kids on vacation can tell you, the more people and the more stuff to pack, the larger the vehicle and the more time you’ll need before you’re mobile. With the current price of gas being high, it’s common for those in the city to own small, fuel-efficient cars. If you decide to bug out on foot to avoid main roadways and people, be sure each person in your group is capable of carrying enough supplies to help support himself. No nine-year-old child is going to be able to carry his share of clothing and food, and most certainly won’t be able to move quickly while trying.
      So when people start talking about just picking up and fleeing to the wilderness, they must be able to envision a good idea of what it takes.

    2. Step 2: Surroundings

      “Surroundings” does not simply refer to knowing the main routes in and out of your town. It also includes the knowledge of local flood plains and the

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      From Flu Viruses To Bioterrorism Attacks, You Must Be Prepared

      By David Simpson

      Zombies. If you believe pop culture, the next big health crisis facing the united states is a zombie apocalypse. Of course, we’re more susceptible to common threats such as influenza, E. coli, smallpox and malaria carried by those we meet, the water we drink and pesky insects … but taking a few simple steps can help keep you and your family healthy.

      2013 flu epidemic

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this past winter brought about the earliest influenza outbreak the U.S. has faced in nearly a decade. Flu season typically runs from October until March, with the highest number of cases occurring in January or February. At its peak, the CDC reported that 47 states experienced widespread geographic flu activity. In short, it was a national epidemic. There are special groups that are more at risk of suffering the effects of the flu or other communicable diseases.

      CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says this group includes “frail, elderly people who may have had cancer or chemotherapy, or people who may have weakened immune systems or are on medication such as long-term oral steroids that can also weaken the immune system. The irony is that these people are far less likely to get the benefit of vaccines available to combat these diseases, as well.”

      The flu varies wildly from year to year, which is why new vaccines are available each season. But few variations have raised as much concern as the outbreak of H1N1, also known as the swine flu, in April of 2009.

      At the time, the CDC and other global health organizations were preparing and responding to the possible spread of H5N1, the bird flu. But H1N1 proved a more aggressive strain, and within the span of a year, the CDC estimates that between 43 million and 89 million cases of 2009 H1N1 occurred in the U.S. alone.

      H1N1 quickly became a pandemic, meaning that multiple countries were at risk of contracting the disease.The rules of what qualifies as a pandemic are similar to those of an epidemicthe spread of the disease and the number of deaths it causes. The CDC issued travel health warnings to help limit the propagation, encouraging U.S. citizens to delay travel to multiple countries.

      Once the widespread H1N1 activity in the U.S. began to wane, the CDC estimates that between 8,870 to 18,300 people died of the virus. Flu vaccines in the U.S. were quickly developed to combat the spread of the virus.

      Variations of 2009 H1 flu continue to circulate, but Dr. Joe Breese of the CDC indicates that the numbers in the U.S. remain low. “We’re not seeing much of the 2009 H1 virus yet so far this year, though it should be said that Europe and other places in the world are,” he says. “We know that influenza viruses in a given country, in a given city, in a given region will vary from year to year and … Read the rest

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        When Does Hurricane Season Start In Usa ? A Very Not Simple Question

        By David Simpson

        Power. Mother nature style. The kind that can drop a city to its knees. To the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of fatalities. Will the future bring more of these? Scientists aren’t sure, but they certainly anticipate storms that pack a wallop.

        “I look at climate with two aspects: intensity (how hot or cold) and variability, which describes how much the weather varies from one week to the next,” says climatologist Laurence S. Kalkstein, PhD, a professor at the University of Miami and the past president of the International Society of Bio-meteorology. “Variability has increased. Things that are more extreme are happening more frequently, but whether that’s a normal trend or whether it’s going to change is very hard to say. We’ve only been taking records for 120 years, and that’s a very short period. But I think it’s safe to say that strong events, due to that variability increase, have been occurring more frequently.”

        It’s also safe to say, as you’re about to see, that predictions are not easy.

        When is hurricane season?

        Most of us keep our eyes tuned to the weather between June 1 and Nov. 30, because that’s the official period of “hurricane season.” However, if you’re near the water, you should know that hurricanes can actually strike any time; it’s just that those are the dates when the ocean conditions are most ripe for storms.“June 1 is no magic number,” Kalkstein says.

        “Hurricanes don’t pay attention to the dates. The probability for hurricanes increases as water warms and reaches a peak in September or early October at the warmest and air aloft is at its calmest. However, it’s possible that a hurricane can occur other times of year if the conditions are right.”

        Three top killers

        1. Hurricane Katrina 2005

          Katrina, which caused more than $75 billion in damages, was responsible for approximately 1,200 reported deaths, including about 1,000 in Louisiana and 200 in Mississippi. Seven additional deaths occurred in southern Florida. Katrina caused catastrophic damage in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Storm surge along the Mississippi coast caused total destruction of many structures, with the surge damage extending several miles inland. Similar damage occurred in portions of southeastern Louisiana southeast of New Orleans.

        2. Hurricane Hugo 1989

          Hugo was responsible for 21 deaths in the mainland United States, five more in Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands, and 24 more elsewhere in the Caribbean.
          Damage estimates are $7 billion in the mainland United States and $1 billion in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

        3. Hurricane Andrew 1992

          This storm was responsible for 23 deaths in the United States and three more in the Bahamas. The hurricane caused $26.5 billion in damage in the United States. Damage in the Bahamas was estimated at $250 million. — National Weather Service

        The problem of predictions

        If you’ve got your eye on the weather every night during the news, you’re quite familiar with the fact that many … Read the rest

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          How Do Hurricane Work ? A Guide For Riding Out The Storm

          By David Simpson

          Katrina. Fran. Audrey. Andrew. Summer and Autumn are both optimal seasons to travel to the coast for some rest and relaxation.

          But depending on where your plans take you, your trip could be sabotaged by a big threat. In the past, those vacation destroyers have had names like Katrina, Fran, Audrey, and Andrew … hurricanes that devastated cities and uprooted people from their communities.

          Between June 1 and November 30 each year, hurricane safety and survival are the highest priorities for many residents along the East and Gulf Coasts.

          While the forecasted number of storms varies from year to year, one thing remains the same—the science behind hurricanes. Understanding hurricanes and knowing how to prepare when one is forecasted for your area can help you survive the next big storm that has the U.S. in its sights.

          The perfect storm

          Atlantic hurricanes, also referred to as tropical cyclones, most often form off the western coast of Africa, near the equator. It’s there that one of a hurricane’s key ingredients exists in abundance—warm water.

          According to Dr. Mark Bourassa, an associate professor of meteorology at Florida State University, the warm water gives off water vapor as it evaporates. This warm air rises, where it encounters cooler air that causes it to condense, forming clouds and rain.

          This process makes way for more warm moist air to enter the developing system while also producing a great deal of energy and heat.

          A hurricane is stacked vertically, like a pipe, and the system requires strong surface winds to feed surrounding air into that pipe and provide a continual source of tropical air. “One of the key factors in hurricane development is the wind pattern,” explains Bourassa. “In order for a system to transition from a thunderstorm to a hurricane, the winds closer to the ocean’s surface must be stronger than those that are aloft or higher in the atmosphere.

          This enables the system to continue to pull in more warm, moist air to feed itself and being the telltale cyclone pattern.” When the warm air and energy meet up with ideal wind conditions, a tropical system develops.

          As the system grows and becomes more organized, what began as a thunderstorm moves through three stages as it strengthens—tropical depression (winds of 38 mph or less), tropical storm (winds between 39-73 mph) and then hurricane (wind speeds greater than 74 mph). “Once a storm reaches hurricane status, it often has three characteristics—wind speed of at least 74 mph, a defined eye and eye wall and low barometric pressure,” Bourassa says. Storm sizes can vary greatly, he says. “We’ve had small storms like Wilma (2005) and larger systems like Isaac (2012),” he notes.

          But take away any of the components of a system, and it dissipates. Passing over land, cold water or encountering dry air all significantly reduce the energy a tropical cyclone is able to generate.

          The dangers of hurricane

          Each storm carries with it unique dangers, ranging from wind to … Read the rest

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            Safest Place To Be And What To Do In An Earthquake

            By David Simpson

            Back in the 1970s, the mantra was “duck and cover.” She knew that when the ground started to shake, she should steer clear of glass and tall furniture, find a sturdy table for cover and hold on until the shaking stopped. At 5:04 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989, all that practice was put to good use.

            That’s when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rocked the San Francisco Bay Area. The Loma Prieta quake killed 63 people, injured 3,757 and left thousands of people homeless. James, who worked in an office building at the time, dove under her desk when the ground started to shake violently. All around her, cubicle walls toppled, papers and office supplies flew, and fluorescent lights and ceiling tiles crashed down.

            Because she knew what to do, she avoided injury. “I didn’t have to think twice about what to do,” she recalls. “My desk was in the middle of the room, and so the safest place was underneath it. I held on while the ground shook and, once it stopped, I carefully climbed my way out and calmly hurried out of the building.

            Thank goodness nobody in our office was hurt.” Do you know what to do during an earthquake? Here, we’ve outlined three scenarios at home, in a high-rise building and outside and described what to do to keep yourself and your family safe.

            How to survive an earthquake at home

            When you’re at home and feel an earthquake, drop to the ground and take cover under a desk or sturdy table. Hold on tight to the table until the shaking stops and if it moves, move with it. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the room.

            Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway. If you’re in bed, stay put. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall, or your bed is near a window that could shatter. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.earthquake-safety-tips-1
            If you’re in the kitchen, move away from the refrigerator and stove, as they could move and shift with the shaking ground. Stay away from overhead cupboards, which could easily open and lose their contents if they’re not latched shut.

            No matter where you are in the house, stay away from windows, bookcases, file cabinets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants and other heavy objects that could fall. Watch out for falling plaster, bricks and ceiling tiles. Stay inside and under cover until the earthquake is over.

            Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave. Remember that aftershocks may occur and some of them can be just as jolting as the initial … Read the rest

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              What To Do During And How To Stay Safe A Tsunami

              By David Simpson

              Utter devastation. None of us can erase the images we saw on television caused by the 2004 indian ocean tsunami. But as we watched from afar, most Americans were secure in the belief that they are immune to the risks of tsunamis. Unfortunately, however, that is foolish thinking. The reality is that tsunamis are projected to hit the U.S. at some point, and the time to prepare is now. Get the facts about these deadly “waves.”

              The cause of tsunami

              Translated from Japanese, tsunami actually means “harbor wave.” The term originates from Japanese fishermen who would travel back to shore from days at sea, only to find devastation caused by these massive ocean surges, which are usually not visible from the ocean. They have often been misnamed “tidal waves” because of the way they mimic a massive tide coming in and out  violently. In actuality, however, they are not affected by tidal changes, but rather are a product of submarine or underwater seismic activities commencing from ocean-floor earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides.
              According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) a federal agency that monitors the oceans, atmosphere, weather and climate changes subduction earthquakes are the most common causes of tsunamis and occur when tectonic plates collide. That force pushes the ocean to move, forming these enormous, powerful waves. The last two massive tsunamis, the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster and the 2011 Japanese tragedy, were both generated by these types of earthquakes. The fault lines and movement of tectonic plates under the Pacific and Indian Oceans are among the most active in the world, and because of this, we often hear the term “ring of fire” to describe all the seismic commotion.

              How much time do you have before a tsunami ?

              Following an earthquake, the timeline varies on how soon a tsunami will hit, mostly depending on how far into the ocean the event that caused it was. But no matter what, you won’t have long to prepare. The NOAA simulations show that when a 9.0 earthquake hit the United States coast in 1900, the initial tsunami wave followed just 20 to 30 minutes later, with waves as high as 30 feet.

              A tsunami is due: effects of tsunami

              As a society, we often underestimate the power of water and are generally shocked by the damage it causes. Dr. Dan Cox, Professor of Ocean and Coastal Engineering at Oregon State University and a scientist for the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, suggests that a tsunami hitting the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which runs from Vancouver, Canada to Northern California, could wreak havoc on the Pacific Northwest. In fact, previous tsunamis have already hit this area, and the next one can’t be far behind.

              “The research done by Brian Atwater about the 1700s Cascadia earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific Northwest shows us that this could happen again and that the cycle, which comes every 300 to 500 years, is fast approaching,” … Read the rest

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                Survival in the Wake of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake: A Day-by-Day Account

                By David Simpson

                Thank goodness for slow traffic in port au prince.
                Following my training class, I was on my way back to the Hotel Montana with my driver, Fanel Antoine. Because I had stayed at the bank a little later than usual, he was trying to deliver me as fast as he could, but to no avail. A large truck in front of us was lumbering up the steep, winding hill to the hotel, blocking our way. We were finally seconds away from the hotel when our whole world started to shake. The car rocked back and forth. A tall retaining wall crumbled right before our eyes, onto the truck ahead.

                The hillside and the roadway collapsed behind us, but the car was untouched. The violent shaking lasted about 30 seconds. Having experienced a couple of earthquakes, I knew pretty much right away that we needed to get out of the car, into the open and certainly away from what remained of the retaining wall. The road was blocked in both directions, so Fanel and I decided to walk the last 200 yards to the hotel. Fanel didn’t speak English and I don’t speak French, but we managed to communicate with expressions and a few common words.

                The Hotel Montana was touted as a four-star hotel near Petionville, a Port au Prince suburb. It was the premier place to stay and be seen in Haiti, a secure and stable refuge from the reality of the rest of the city. But when we got to the hotel site, it was no longer standing. All six stories had collapsed on top of one another like a stack of pancakes. Nearly 300 people died in the hotel’s rubble. If Fanel had gotten me to the hotel two minutes earlier, I would have been crushed under tons of concrete along with everyone else who was in the building. The survivors were shouting, crying and screaming, and the scene was chaos.

                I tried to call my wife, but the cell service went down almost immediately and stayed offline for days. I recognized a bartender and a couple of waiters that I had befriended. They were a little bloodied, but said they were okay. The shopping area, restaurant, bar and parking garage had all collapsed. I heard shouts from under the debris in the parking garage and the hotel, but there was no way to get to the people underneath. It was the most horrible, helpless feeling I had ever experienced

                • TUESDAY JAN. 12, 5:30 P.M.

                  Fanel insisted that our only alternative was to walk the six, hilly miles back to the bank in downtown Port au Prince. By that point it was getting dark. This was not a strategy I would have considered even 45 minutes earlier. The pathways of Port au Prince could be mean streets, especially at night, and I was a pretty conspicuous target in a Haitian crowd. Taking stock, I had with me my messenger bag with my passport, laptop, cell phone,

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                  How to Survive a Nuclear Meltdown or Nuclear Power Plant Emergency

                  By David Simpson

                  In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant leak in japan, Americans began to analyze just how many fault lines lay in the shadow of nuclear power plants.

                  In fact, Congressional Energy Committee members Edward Markey (D-MA) and Lois Capps (D-CA) wrote to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March 2011 to stress that several nuclear reactors in the United States located in seismically active areas “are not designed with sufficient levels of resiliency against the sort of earthquakes scientists predict they could experience.” The Congress members identified eight nuclear reactors on the seismically active West Coast, and 27 more reactors near the New Madrid fault line in the Midwest.

                  Thirty-one more reactors in the United States are of the same design as the Fukushima plant, 12 of which “are located in seismically active zones,” the Congressional letter added. No matter where you are, you could be at risk of a nuclear leak if an earthquake ever strikes. Following is the information you need to stay safe.

                  1. Fight or flight?

                    If word comes to you that a nuclear leak has occurred, you’ll have to make a split-second decision about whether it’s safer for you to settle into a secure place or to leave the area, says Shane Connor of Ki4U, Inc., a nuclear preparedness advice organization. “You never want to be caught outside, stuck in a car if fallout has begun or could arrive before you leave the area altogether and get to a safer place,”
                    Connor advises. “You never want to risk being exposed outside at all, even just for a couple minutes once fallout has begun or during those first couple days of the highest lethal intensity.” If you are unsure of whether you can safely flee, you are better off staying put,
                    Connor advises. “If you are not highly confident of where the fallout is coming from, where the wind is going to be blowing it, how soon it will arrive, and that you can evacuate and be long gone before it even ever does arrive, then you need to forget about evacuating and quickly hunker down, best as you can, right where you are,” he says.

                  2. Create your shelter

                    If you decide to stay home and wait out the nuclear exposure, don’t fear the worst you won’t be in your makeshift shelter forever. “That’s a big part of the ‘good news,’ with a nuclear bomb explosion, as radioactive fallout loses its lethal intensity very quickly,” Connor says.
                    The intensity is 90 percent gone in seven hours, and 99 percent gone in 48 hours, he adds. However, with a nuclear power plant meltdown, it could be spewing forth radioactive fallout for days and weeks, or more.
                    In that case, eventual evacuation, when safer to quickly do so later, may be your only option. “Even a cramped and uncomfortable, last-minute, thrown-together, expedient shelter would be bearable for getting through those first couple days of the worst of it,” Connor

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                    Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

                    By David Simpson

                    Magnitude 9.0 earthquake. More than 22,000 dead. Damage price tag of $235 billion.

                    The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake (also referred to as the Great East Japanese Earthquake) that occurred on March 11, 2011 and the tsunami that followed devastated much of Japan, and it was the most expensive natural disaster in history.

                    Out of the tremendous devastation that followed, however, many important lessons were learned. We’ve highlighted some of the most important ones here so you can be armed with knowledge that will help you survive if a quake hits your region.

                    1. Early warning system

                      Japan has arguably the world’s most advanced early warning system in the world for earthquakes and tsunamis. As soon as the first waves of the Japanese earthquake occurred and its strength was understood, tens of millions of Japanese residents received an alert via text message, e-mail or on television, to name just a few of the ways it was delivered.

                      While the alert’s impact ranged greatly depending on how far victims were from the epicenter of the earthquake, even just a few seconds was enough time for many drivers to get off of bridges, for students to huddle under their desks and for all trains to automatically stop running.
                      Early warning signals save lives. As more technology users around the world subscribe to such systems or have them publicly available during the next massive quake, fewer lives will be lost.

                    2. Earthquakes not just a pacific problem

                      While California and Japan often get much of the press related to earthquakes and tsunamis, earthquakes have struck the rest of the United States numerous times since the country’s founding—and could again at any time. Damaging earthquakes have occurred in areas east of the Mississippi River in areas as diverse as Washington, D.C.,Tampa, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn.
                      Perhaps most frightening thing about these EastCoast quakes is the deadliest of them—the 1886 Charleston Earthquake—occurred where no tremor had ever been felt before and claimed close to 100 lives.

                    Nuclear strength

                    The Fukushima nuclear disaster was a devastating reminder about the power of earthquakes—as well as the damage that a nuclear meltdown can cause in just a matter of minutes. In response to the tragedy, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) created a list of recommendations for securing our nuclear facilities using a three-tiered, prioritized schedule. Some of the agency’s recommendations were as follows:

                    TIER 1 To be started immediately:

                    • Seismic and flood hazard reevaluations
                    • Station blackout regulatory actions
                    • Spent fuel pool instrumentation
                    • Stronger emergency operating procedures and severe accident management guidelines

                    TIER 2 To be initiated when further information is available:

                    • Spent fuel pool makeup capability
                    • Emergency preparedness regulatory actions
                    • Reevaluation of other external hazards (tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, etc.)

                    TIER 3 To be addressed after tiers 1 and 2 are completed:

                    • Ten-year confirmation of seismic and flooding hazards
                    • Potential enhancements to the capability to prevent or mitigate seismically-induced fires and floods
                    • Emergency response data system capability
                    • Emergency preparedness topics for decision-making, radiation monitoring and public education
                    • Pre-staging of
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                      What To Do After An Earthquake Hits

                      By David Simpson

                      They arrive without warning, and they can turn your life upside down. They are earthquakes.
                      Not only should you have a plan before they strike, but it’s imperative to have a plan for afterward, too, especially because you may find yourself stunned and wondering what just happened.

                      But you can’t wait long after the ground stops shaking. “Rules are deadly,” says Patrick Corcoran, Coastal Hazards Outreach Specialist and professor at Oregon State University. “Look around with a prepared eye, but you must realize that to be able to execute a plan, you must anticipate the unpredictable.” If you live in earthquake country, you should always be acutely aware of your surroundings, Corcoran advises. “The chances of being at your home, with your prepared survival kit, and against an interior wall are small,” he says. “All plans go out the window at this point.”

                      Which is why it’s critical to have the plan in place. “Think of escaping an earthquake or tsunami in terms of music,” Corcoran says. “Classical music traditions plan linearly and follow defined paths, while jazz music uses a handful of principles based on what is in front of you. Use what you have in front of you to survive.”

                      after-earthquake-infographic

                      1. “Gotcha” hazards to avoid

                        While most of us envision a post-earthquake environment to consist of dangers such as falling rubble and chasms in the highways, the more realistic dangers are things you may not have even considered.
                        Knowing what the most dangerous hazards are following a quake will potentially save your life. “It wasn’t the earthquake that killed people in San Francisco during the 1906 disaster,” Corcoran says. “The fires are what killed the majority of people because the water mains broke, and the fires couldn’t be put out.” Indeed, fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake, FEMA indicates on its Web site.
                        The agency recommends keeping a fire extinguisher in your home, particularly if you live in a quake zone. In addition to fires, you should watch out for the other “gotcha hazards” that pop up after an earthquake, which are usually more deadly than the actual quake.
                        If you are inside during the quake, your first order of business should be to protect your head from falling objects. Look around you for loose materials and try to move outside to a natural area free from debris or dangers. Help those who are injured or trapped and get them to safety.
                        In addition, you should ensure that nothing toxic spilled inside of your home during the quake. Clean up any bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids right away. But if you smell natural gas or other strong chemical fumes, leave immediately, FEMA advises. Don’t ever assume something is stable if it doesn’t look damaged.
                        Once outside, you are not necessarily safe from harm. “Downed power lines and gas leaks are real killers after the tremors stop,” says Corcoran, “and landslides are particularly bad if you

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