Experiencing an Earthquake in Your Car

earthquake road damage

Most Californian’s know about earthquakes and the importance of earthquake preparedness. Earthquakes have the potential of being dangerous. They are also classified as natural disasters. Being from the Bay Area, I remember the Loma Prieta Earthquake back in 1989. My mom, sister, and I were in the car on the freeway on our way home from work and school. Working for a personal injury attorney, I know that we are long overdue for another earthquake here in Southern California. So I put together a few tips on what to do if there is an earthquake while you are in the car. If you are suffering from injuries due to an accident, please contact an accident attorney in our office. Consultations are free!

Accident Attorney | Handling an Earthquake on the Road

One of the first things to do, if possible, is to try to pull over and park in a safe location. Being able to react to the earthquake as it happens and being prepared will give you a better chance of getting out safely.

Pull Over to the Side

If you are driving when the earthquake begins, do your best to pull over to the shoulder; if at all possible. Only do this if you can do so in a safe manner. You don’t want to be hit by or hit other motorists who are on the road. Make sure to signal and if it is necessary, turn your hazard lights on. Overpasses can be tricky, however if you are on an overpass, wait until you are on solid ground before you come to a complete stop. I know that can be difficult, especially if you are stuck in traffic, because sometimes we find ourselves at a stand still on overpasses.

  • When looking for a safe place to pull over, look for a place where things are not likely to fall on your car.
  • If you are in the middle of a city, however, there may not be many options, unfortunately. Do the best you can.
    • If this is the case, we suggest parking your car in a place where you feel safe and comfortable.
  • Stay away from expansion joints on an elevated highway. Try not to stop near or on top of the expansion joints. This is important because the concrete slabs that the joints hold up can collapse during an earthquake.

Turn Off the Engine

After you safely pull over to the side, turn off your car engine immediately. a serious earthquake has the potential to damage your car or rupture your gas tank. Which will create a situation where your car may catch fire or explode.

Once your engine is off, pull your emergency brake. I always do this when I park my car no matter what. However, in this situation, your emergency brake will keep you from rolling backwards or forwards if the ground is not level under your car. This is helpful if you are on a bridge or elevated road where your car can potentially roll off of.

Waiting For the Earthquake to End

Once the worst part of the earthquake is over, turn on the radio or your cell phone and search for a news station. Most stations will have emergency broadcastings when a big earthquake hits. They will likely broadcast information about the size of the quake, evacuation routes, rescue efforts, and any instructions for people who are seriously injured or trapped.

  • Once the worst is over, stay in your car and assess the situation. You may be tempted to jump out of the car right after the quake is over, unless it is a real emergency, stay in your car and make sure you take a moment to look around.
  • If the earthquake was minor, and it is safe for you and others on the road, be careful when driving on your way.
  • Also make sure you are paying attention to the following:
    • Powerlines near you and along the road that may have been downed;
    • The condition of the road around you;
    • If people are getting out of their cars;
    • Pay attention to whether or not you smell gasoline or any other natural gas;
    • Look to see if your car is damaged or not.
  • If you need help, whether you are injured, trapped, etc., alert others on the road right away. You can do this by waving people down, shouting, etc. However, if you are unable to do so, hopefully the cell phone towers have not gone down, so you can call 9-1-1 for emergency medical services.
  • If you smell gasoline, whether you think it is coming from your car or not, get out of your car immediately and get yourself to safety. This is important because the car could potentially catch fire or explode if there is a leak.

Personal Injury Attorney | How to Create an Earthquake Kit

Having an earthquake survival kit on hand, not only in your car, but in your home, will help you tremendously. Even if there are rare occasions when you need to use it, having one on hand to give you peace of mind.

  • Find a container that will fit in the trunk of your car. It doesn’t have to be huge. One article suggested that you store your car tool kit and your earthquake kit in the same storage box; something that is perhaps like a traditional tool box.
    • It should be big and sturdy enough to hold everything you need.
    • Depending on the size of the kit, you may need to store your water outside of the kit.
  • You always want to have enough water stored. This is actually the most important part of your survival kit. for instance, if you find yourself trapped in your car for hours on end before rescue workers can help, you will need water to stay hydrated. Pack as much as you possibly can.
    • You will, however, want to avoid storing water in your trunk. This is because you may not be able to readily access it when you need to.
  • Include as much high-calorie, nonperishable foods in your kit as possible. Even if you are worried about space, foods takes up very little room but has a lot of calories. They can help you if you find yourself stranded for an extended period of time.
    • We suggest high calorie energy bars. However, you want to make sure that if they are in your trunk, they won’t melt.
  • If you find yourself stranded in your car, your phone won’t work, etc., having some sort of noise maker will help alert rescue workers that you are in need of attention. Foghorns are an essential to any earthquake kit.
  • Keep a flashlight with the appropriate batteries will help if you are stranded in the dark or trapped.

Suffering from Injuries? Contact Us Today!

If you are suffering form injuries due to an accident, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your case. Consultations with an accident attorney at Silverthorne Attorneys are free!