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THE SAFETY ZONE | TODAY'S TIP

Safe Driving When an Earthquake Hits Requires Knowing Hazards, Responses

October 23, 2000

How should you respond if an earthquake occurs while driving? Southern Californians make 63 million vehicle trips daily. Given the amount of time spent traveling, motorists should be prepared for major emergencies, officials said.

The Automobile Club of Southern California offers these suggestions to better prepare you for driving during an earthquake.

Experiencing an earthquake while in a moving vehicle has been compared to driving on four flat tires.

If an earthquake occurs while you are driving:

* Gradually decrease speed;

* Pull to the side of the road when safe to do so;

* Do not stop on or under overpasses or bridges;

* Do not resume driving until it's safe to do so;

* Avoid parking near trees, downed power lines and buildings;

* Stop the car and keep your seat belt fastened;

* Remain in your car until the shaking stops;

* Keep in mind that aftershocks follow the initial earthquake;

* Turn on your car radio and listen for advisories (most radio stations are prepared to broadcast emergency information);

* If driving on the freeway, and if it's safe to do so, exit at the first opportunity;

* Cooperate with public safety officers because they are trying to ensure your safety and that of others.

Be Prepared

Be prepared by stocking the following items in your vehicle:

* Fully equipped first aid kit;

* First aid manual (comprehensive);

* Bottled water;

* Nonperishable foods;

* Blanket or sleeping bag;

* Flashlight with extra batteries and bulb;

* Fire extinguisher (CO2);

* Pocket radio with extra batteries;

* Tissues and pre-moistened towels;

* Tools (screwdriver, pliers, wire, pocket knife, can opener and duct tape);

* Extra clothes and sturdy shoes;

* Short rubber hose for siphoning;

* Sealable plastic bags;

* Local maps;

* Matches;

* Toiletries;

* Gloves;

* Motorists should keep their vehicle's gas tank at least half full at all times, and should not carry spare gas in the trunk.

Source: Auto Club of Southern California

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