Although earthquakes happen in some areas more frequently, it can happen in all parts of the world. In order to diminish the destructive effects of the earthquake, we should always be prepared before it happens. Followings are some simple methods which can reduce the damage of earthquake:
• Big and heavy objects that can fall with earthquake shakes should be fixed into the wall
• When you want to put objects on the shelves, make sure that heavy objects are in the lower parts
• If you have items such as big mirrors and watches, hang them away from the place you are sleeping or sitting usually.
In modern buildings, most injuries in an earthquake result from falling or flying objects or people trying to move, rather than collapsing buildings. So, do not leave the building until the shaking is over.
During an earthquake, stay away from the windows, glass, exterior walls, fireplaces, unstable objects, shelves, cabinets, and anything that could fall. Then take shelter under an object using drop, cover and hold on technique.
Drop, cover and hold on, can save your life during the earthquake
When you feel the first shaking of an earthquake, you should immediately find a sturdy object, such as a strong wooden table to take shelter underneath. Cover your head with one hand and with your other hand hold the table’s leg. If the table moves, you should also move with it.
When you want to find a suitable piece of furniture try to use the nearest one and never go to another room and especially another floor to find a better one.
If you cannot find suitable shelter, sit in the squat position in the corner of the room near the interior walls of the building and protect your head and neck with your hands and arms.
If you are in bed when an earthquake hits
Suppose that you are resting on the bed when the earthquake strikes. It is recommended that in this condition, you do not leave the bed and use your pillow and your arms to protect your head and neck. However, if your bed is near a heavy object that might fall, you should leave the bed and take shelter under a sturdy object. Keep in mind that most injuries occur when you are moving. So, avoid unnecessary movements and seek shelter under the nearest piece of furniture.
In contrast to traditional training guidelines which suggest that standing in the doorway can save your life during an earthquake, research has proven that in a new building this is not true. The reason is that compared with old buildings, in modern houses, the doorway is not stronger than other parts. Also as mentioned before, the main threats in new buildings are falling and flying objects and doorways cannot protect you against them. On the other hand, it is likely that you fall, when a strong shake start. Though, if you are inside an old house, and you have no other option, the doorway might be able to save you.
Elevators like stairs are one of the most dangerous places during the earthquake. So, you should never use an elevator during or after the earthquake. If you are inside the elevator when shaking begin, you should push all the buttons and get out on the first floor it stops.
Should you evacuate the house when the shaking begins?
The only condition that you should not stay indoors is when you are in a non-engineered building with a heavy ceiling. For example, if you are inside an old brick building that will be destroyed completely by an earthquake, you should leave the house as soon as possible.
Triangle of life as a mythical earthquake survival technique
In recent years, we are hearing a lot about the triangle of life and how it can save lives during an earthquake, although its effectiveness has been questioned. Triangle of life theory is based on the idea that buildings collapse during the earthquake and crush the furniture leaving an empty space near them. According to this assumption, some people believe that we should seek shelter next to the furniture, not under objects.
Why triangle of life, cannot protect you during an earthquake?
Opponents of this theory raise some objections that undermine the credibility of this theory:
• Triangle of life theory offers that you should not take shelter under the furniture because it will crash when the ceiling falls on it. This is not true because most modern buildings are resistant to earthquake. Although an earthquake might damage the building, total collapse is highly unlikely.
• As we mentioned before, nowadays most earthquake damages caused by falling or flying object. Seeking shelter under objects will protect you against such damages while hiding near the objects, as suggested by the triangle of life theory, will not provide any protection.
• There are lots of photos which show the triangle of life after the earthquake. Though after the earthquake, we might be able to find such empty spaces near the objects, it is really hard to predict the place of such a triangle in advance. In fact, because objects move during the shaking, the location of the triangle of life also moves.
To sum up, you should use drop, cover and hold on technique to protect yourself during an earthquake. However, if you cannot get under sturdy furniture and if you can’t leave the building that may collapse, the triangle of life may be used as the last resort. In this case, sit near an object that does not fall on you and cover your head with your hands and arms.
How to stay safe if you are inside a car during an earthquake?
Suppose that you are driving when the earthquake strikes. In this case, you should carefully reduce your speed and stop the car in a safe location and remain inside the car until the end of the earthquake. Places near tall trees, utility poles, high-rise apartments, bridges, and ramps are not safe and you should avoid them during the earthquake.
Triangle of life theory, recommends that during the earthquake, you should exit the car and lie down on the ground near the car, with the hope that it will provide the empty space for you if something falls on the car. Though, this recommendation is not logical because it is possible that car moves during the earthquake and hit you. In addition, you might be seriously damaged if other drivers cannot see you, while you are lying down on the ground.
What should we do after an earthquake?
After the shaking stops, leave the building calmly. Do not rush for doors, especially in crowded public places as it can lead to severe damage. In addition, you should not evacuate the building at the same time with other people because it exerts lots of force on the damaged part of the building, which might lead to collapse. Walk slowly to avoid falling, if aftershocks happen.
Because the floor is probably full of pieces of broken glass, you should wear shoes or wrap several layers of folded paper around your feet. For evacuation, never use the elevator, but use stairs instead.
After leaving the house, turn off gas and electricity at the meters. Before shutting off the main water supply, make sure there are no fires in the building. Then gather in a place away from buildings, trees, power lines, and power poles, gas pipes, wells, and narrow streets. When you are outside of the building, it is recommended to sit in the squat position with your hands on the floor, to prevent falls during aftershocks.
How to help earthquake victims?
After the earthquake, ask everyone to be quiet and listen carefully to the sounds of possible survivors. If you hear sounds of survivors underneath the rubble, mark the location for further investigation by rescuers. Except in case of emergency, you should not walk on wreckage because debris might fall on any survivors under the rubble.
Earthquake survivors are at high risk of spinal cord injury. Therefore, the rescue process should be done by skilled professionals. If you are in a place that you are sure it will take too long for help to arrive and you want to pull out the victims, make sure during the rescue process head, neck, and the rest of the spine remain in a straight line axis.
Do not return home immediately after the earthquake
Do not hurry to return home because earthquakes are often followed by aftershocks that can lead to the destruction of the damaged buildings. If possible, stay one night in a tent in an open and safe space.
When it is safe to enter the building, bring flashlights and never use matches or any electrical instrument because if there is a gas leak, it could cause an explosion.
What to do if you are trapped after the earthquake?
If you are trapped under the debris after an earthquake, stay calm and wait for help. Staying calm, without any movement helps to get the most out of the remaining oxygen. Do not hurry, and do not worry to get out. A human can survive for a week without water and three weeks without food.
So, keep your calm, listen carefully to the sounds around you, and wait for rescuers. When rescuers arrive, signal your presence by tapping on a pipe or wall. Only as a last resort try shouting and to prevent dust inhalation, cover your mouth and nose with a cloth.
Prevent your car from being stolen after an earthquake
Car theft is a common peril after the earthquake. To prevent this, remove an important part that is essential for the performance of the car. It is recommended to remove spark plug wires or tires from the car.