Are you prepared for a major earthquake emergency?

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SEATTLE - A series of small tremors now underway in Washington state could increase chances for a larger earthquake - including the much-feared "big one" - and should serve as a timely reminder to be prepared in case it happens, experts say.

Which leads to an obvious question: Are you prepared?

The American Red Cross and other disaster preparedness groups say anyone living in the Pacific Northwest should have an emergency plan so they are ready before, during and after a major quake.

Here are some key elements of an earthquake plan:

BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE

  • Prepare a survival kit with basic supplies, such as bottled water, nonperishable food, flashlight, battery-powered radio, extra batteries, first-aid kit, medications, personal hygiene items, copies of personal documents, pet supplies, matches, duct tape, sleeping bags, a manual can opener, a fire extinguisher, a whistle and other items. See a recommended Red Cross list here >>
  • Create a household or family evacuation plan that includes pets and practice using it. See some tips here >>
  • Create a family emergency communications plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated.
  • Secure items, such as TVs and other objects that hang on walls. Store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves.
  • Download the emergency app for iPhone >> or for Android >>
  • Find an online NOAA radio station in the Apple store >> or Google play >>

DURING AN EARTHQUAKE

  • If you are indoors - drop, cover and hold on. Move as little as possible to avoid injury. Try to protect your head and torso. If you're in bed, stay there. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. If you leave, use stairs and not an elevator. If you smell gas, get out and move as far away as possible.
  • If you are outdoors - find a clear spot, drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops. Try to get as far away from buildings, power lines, trees, and streetlights as possible. If you're in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location away from bridges and overpasses and stop. You can find more tips here >>

AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE

  • If away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so. Get first aid if you are injured. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks and landslides. Check for tsunami warnings if you live on the coast.
  • If you are at home, look for damage and get everyone out if your home is unsafe. Help people who require extra assistance in your family or neighborhood if you are able. Check you home's structure and utilities. Here are some tips on what to look for >>
  • Look for and extinguish small fires, which are the most common hazard after an earthquake.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.
  • Take photos of damage to your home and its contents for insurance purposes.

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You can find more helpful tips for dealing with an earthquake emergency here >> and here >>

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