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THE 6.6 QUAKE : On the Rebound: A Guide to Recovery and Resources : Some Common-Sense Ways of Getting Through It All

January 23, 1994

The first few days after a major earthquake can be terrifying. You are fraught with worry for yourself, your children. You worry about the possibility of fire, structural damage. You fear being alone. Here are tips for getting through it.

WARNING SIGNS

* Gas fumes--Shut off main gas valve with a wrench by turning it in either direction until perpendicular to pipe.

* Water leak--Shut off water by turning the first valve after it leaves house.

* Frayed wires, sparks, smell of hot insulation--Shut off electricity; single breakers first, then main breaker.

* Chemical spill--Clean up, isolate area.

* Creaking, severe cracks--Indicates structural damage. Move to a safe area.

FIRE

If the fire department is unavailable, you may need to fight your own fire. (The Los Angeles City Fire Department offers community group training.) Direct the extinguisher at the base of the fire.

Firefighting method depends of type of fire as follows:

* Cloth, paper, rubber, wood--Fire extinguisher with "A" symbol or non-potable water.

* Flammable liquids such as gasoline, kitchen greases, oils, paint--Extinguisher with "B" symbol or baking soda, sand or dirt. No water.

* Electrical equipment such as fuse boxes, wires, appliances, motors--Turn off electrical current. Use "C" symbol extinguisher, water, sand or dirt. If you cannot shut off current, do not use water. (Note: Extinguishers with combined "A," "B" and "C" capabilities are sold.)

HOME SECURITY

Here are some quick fixes that can keep the wolf away, says Los Angeles "Home Doctor" Gary Abrams:

* Broken windows or holes in the roof--Plastic sheeting secured by duct tape will not only help insulate the house, it may dissuade people from entering. Unlike plywood, which has to be cut with power tools, sheeting can be cut with scissors.

* Unhinged doors--Drive three nails into the door jamb at an angle within 1/4-inch of the door surface so they can be removed. Place one nail on top, one in the middle and one on bottom.

* Stuck doors--Keep a crowbar in the bedroom in case the quake jams a door shut.

* Apartments--Residents in second-story units may want to invest in an emergency ladder that hooks over the window sill. Ladders allow tenants to evacuate if apartment doors are jammed.

NO ELECTRICITY

Life without power requires significant adjustments. Here are some ways to get along without our juice:

* Keep ready-to-eat foods on hand.

* Store a manual can opener.

* Store charcoal, propane or camp stove fuel, matches, plastic utensils, paper plates, cups and aluminum foil. Cook outdoors with charcoal grill or camp stove.

* If you depend on electric power for life support or use an electric wheelchair, buy a small emergency generator, extra fuel or batteries.

* Place emergency power failure lights in halls and in bedrooms. These are constantly charging flashlights that operate without electricity for about 4 to 6 hours.

NO WATER

If the water supply is cut off after a quake, the days of long, hot baths will be just a memory--for a while.

* Immediately after a quake, fill the bathtub with water.

* Water heaters can provide 40 to 50 gallons of bathing water.

* You can use pool water for flushing toilets and bathing. (Pool water used for bathing should be filtered and chlorinated, says Jack Petralia, director of environmental protection, Los Angeles County Health Service Department.

* In the short term, ocean bathing is OK, although Petralia warns that ocean salt is hard on the skin.

* The Office of Emergency Services recommends keeping on hand extra soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and moist towelettes.

SANITATION

If sewer lines are damaged and bathrooms are unavailable:

* Empty the toilet bowl of water and line with a heavy plastic bag or use waste paper baskets lined with plastic bags. When bag is full, tie securely and store in tightly covered garbage can away from living and dining areas. Add disinfectant: toilet chemical or chlorine bleach.

* Buy a portable toilet.

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