I kicked at the dog. She was shaking the bed with her scratching and waking me up. I kicked, but I couldn’t find her. Then, I remembered that I was far from New Jersey and thus far from my dog.

Very far, like Tel Aviv far. I sat up to see that it wasn’t just the bed shaking, but the entire room. My first earthquake!

Cool, until I learned that Israel lies on several fault lines and has had several major earthquakes in the past, most recently on July 11, 1927, when 300 -500 people were killed in Jerusalem and Jericho.

Another quake measuring seven on the Richter scale and with an epicentre in the Hula Valley, devastated the town of Safed and killed some 4,000 people in 1837… Not so cool. It seems we are due for another big one.

Experts say its not a matter of if, but when and with four minor tremors in the past few days, it’s time to get ready.

Home Front Command has an entire page dedicated to being prepared and its worth reading. Some highlights are:

Building collapse is the main cause of injury in an earthquake. Buildings constructed after 1980 are built in conformance with the Standard for Resistance to Earthquakes and should be able to withstand an earth tremor.

People are often hurt by the collapsing of heavy shelves and objects, slivers of broken glass, fire and leaking gas. To avoid these types of injuries, you should:

  • move pictures or shelves hanging above beds
  • ensure that anything attached to the walls or ceilings  are properly fastened.
  •  make sure hot water heaters, solar heaters, propane gas tanks, air conditioners and compressors are well secured.
  •  store inflammable and poisonous substances in a locked room, far from any source of heat.
  • keep heavy objects low down.

Practice! Choose  a secure place at home and at work and make sure everyone knows to go there in case of an earthquake. Best options are a Mamad, a stairwell (in a multi-story building), an open outside area if it’s a one-family home or ground floor apartment. Practice getting there in case of an event. Think Katyushas but from underground.

  • Keep flashlights with good batteries where people can access them easily.
  • Show all family members where the main electrical switches and gas and water supplies are and how to open and close them.
  • Prepare emergency equipment and supplies in an accessible and safe place, like the mamad. The equipment should include water, at least 4 liters per person, and canned food. (Don’t forget the can opener!!) First aid kit, more flashlights, battery operated radio, medications, spare eyeglasses, baby equipment, wipes, garbage bags.  I will add here entertainment for the kids and if you’re like me- chocolate.

That’s what you need to do BEFORE an event. But what if you feel the floor shaking, pictures rattling, and see those light bulbs swaying? First, seriously, do not panic. People get hurt when they panic.

If you are inside go quickly to a safe place –

1. Open space – If you can get out of the building within seconds, get out and go to an open area (especially if you are in a one-family home or ground floor apartment).

2. If you can’t get out of the building quickly – go to the Mamad and leave the door open.

3. If you can’t get out of the building quickly and there is no secure space – go to the stairwell.

4. Only if you can do none of these things – take shelter under a piece of heavy furniture or sit on the floor next to an interior wall.

If you are outside stay in an open area and stay away from buildings, bridges and electric poles.

If you are at the beach leave the area immediately for fear of a tsunami. Get at least a kilometer away from the shore.

When its over:

• Do not use a gas flame or electricity of any kind (including cell phones) for fear of explosion due to leaking gas.

• Leave the building and remain in an open area, far from the building.

• Before leaving the building, disconnect the apartment’s cooking gas supply line and main electric breaker (switch). It is also advisable to disconnect the cooking gas supply line and main electric breaker of the entire building. Don’t use an elevator!!

• Listen to the radio (car, battery operated) for information and instructions.

Lo Aleinu

• If people are trapped under the rubble use household tools, with proper judgment, to lift heavy objects, such as a car jack or an iron rod.

  • Emergency Numbers: Police 100 – Ambulance 101 – Fire Dept 102 – Electic Company 103 – Home Front Command 104

• If you are trapped under the rubble, try to free yourself. Use an item of clothing to cover your nose and mouth to prevent breathing in dust, and avoid exhausting yourself by shouting. Bang on a pipe or walls to help the search and rescue people find you. Do not light a flame!

Aftershocks

Be prepared for aftershocks – these shocks occur minutes, days or months after an earthquake and can collapse buildings that have been weakened by the initial earthquake.

For more info check out Home Front Command.

It’s a bit scary to read this stuff, but its very stupid not to.