Southern Maryland isn’t exactly used to dealing with earthquakes. With the 5.8 shaker we just felt, it’s a good idea to check your home for possible damage and to prevent further damage to your home and family. Here’s a quick list of things to check for. In earthquake terms this wasn’t a major catastrophe, and hopefully your damage was as minor as mine.
- Fire. If you have any fire damage, try to put it out, and make sure you call the fire department
- Gas Leaks. Shut off the main gas valve only if you suspect a leak because of broken pipes or the odor or sound of leaking natural gas. Don’t turn it back on yourself – wait for the gas company to check for leaks. The phone book has detailed information on this topic.
- Damaged Electrical Wiring. Shut off power at the main breaker switch if there is any damage to your house wiring. Leave the power off until the damage is repaired.
- Broken Lights and Appliances. Unplug these as they could start fires when electricity is restored.
- Downed Power Lines. If you see downed power lines, consider them energized and stay well away from them. Keep others away from them also. Never touch downed power lines or any objects in contact with them.
- Fallen Items. Beware of items tumbling off shelves when you open the doors of closets and cupboards.
- Spills. Use extreme caution. Clean up any spilled medicines, drugs, or other non-toxic substances. Potentially harmful materials such as bleach, lye, garden chemicals, and gasoline or other petroleum products should be isolated or covered with an absorbent such as dirt or cat litter. When in doubt, leave your home.
- Damaged Masonry. Stay away from chimneys and walls made of brick or block. They may be weakened and could topple during aftershocks. Don’t use a fireplace with a damaged chimney. It could start a fire or let poisonous gases into your home.