Earthquake Safety

What to do in case of an earthquake

Ana Paula Chacin

What is an earthquake?

Back to basics! An earthquake is the shaking of the earth, caused by two tectonic plates slipping past each other. This causes vibrations on the surface on earth, and these vibrations can have different magnitudes. Earthquakes happen all day, but only the strong ones can be perceived. Earthquakes are unexpected, so if you live in an area where earthquakes are common, you should always be prepared.

The high-magnitude earthquakes are very dangerous, though. They can be strong enough to take buildings down, cause lots of damage and produce tsunamis if the shaking takes place in water. There are many safety hazards and tips you can take to prevent getting hurt in an earthquake.

Earthquake Safety Procedures

If an earthquake takes place in your area, you must always know what to do in order to stay safe. Here is a series of rules you should follow when an earthquake strikes:

If you are indoors:

1. In your home, look for places that may come in handy in an earthquake. Search for sturdy furniture such as heavy tables or something attached to the floor by a deep pole or structure. Some useful places to look for are spaces under staircases, doorframes and other heavy and well-constructed structures. If an earthquake occurs, you should drop to the ground, over your head and neck with your arms, and roll under the sturdy structure. Hold on tightly to the strong furniture. This process is called "Drop, Cover and Hold on".

2. In an earthquake, always stay away from mirrors, hanging objects, glass, or any materials that can break, fall, ignite or even explode. This will keep you safer, since nothing can harm you.

3. Never use elevators. Elevators might fall or break while you are in the earthquake, and this might be an easy way to get killed. Always use stairs. Stay away from buildings, since the glass can be carried by the wind and get to long distances. This can be a very dangerous material.

4. Secure heavy furniture before an earthquake. If there are cabinets filled with things or shelves with books, try to secure them as much as you can to prevent injuries in case they fall down during the earthquake.

If you are outdoors:

1. If you can, walk away. If the situation is safe and you can find a way to walk away from falling buildings and debris, you should always try. This will keep you in a safer zone and prevent further injuries. Avoid any power lines or other hazardous objects around you.

2. If the earthquake starts and you are driving, pull to the side of the road and check that there are no hazards over your head. If there are, get out of the car immediately and seek shelter in another place as fast as you can. Never stay in a car, since it can be easily destroyed by debris.

3. If you are at the beach, find higher grounds immediately. Earthquakes are most likely to cause tsunamis, and the only way of avoiding them is going to higher grounds. higher grounds can also prevent some objects from falling on you because of the shaking, and rescuers in helicopters/planes can find you easier.

4. Dust clouds can be created when a building or big structure gets destroyed. If there is a big dust cloud heading toward you, look for the nearest wall and get behind it in order to avoid getting sweeped by the dust.

When the shaking stops:

1. Check around you. If you are safe, always try to help people around you who probably got injured. Never move people who are injured severely unless they are in danger. Provide first aid if you need to.

2. Inspect your home for damage. Look for gas leaks, broken glass, broken cables or any dangerous material around. Turn all electronic devices off to avoid fires. If there is a big problem, call 911 or your country's emergency number.

3. If you see fire, put it out. Small fires can often be put out easily. Try to put the fire out before it spreads and causes more severe damage.

4. Try checking the radio station on the nearest device you have. You should always be informed on what is happening, so you should get information sorted out as soon as you are safe in order to see what procedures will be taken and what will happen.

If you are stuck in debris:

1. Don't move. Move as little as possible so you don't get more stuck or more hurt. Don't try to free yourself; wait for help to arrive.

2. Cover your mouth and nose. Use a piece of clothing to cover your nose and mouth. Breathing in dust can affect your lungs and make you cough.

3. Try not to shout. Shouting might make your voice sore and no one might hear you. Use a hard object to bang on a pipe or another strong material for rescuers to hear you and rescue you. If you have a whistle, use it.

Always Know What To Do!

Now You Know!

With these helpful tips, you should now know the basic steps to take when an earthquake takes place. Completing these steps may take practice, so you should take time to try these methods.