What Do You Do When the Earth Shakes?

In honor of today’s East Coast earthquake, I have decided to post some earthquake safety tips. While I did not feel this earthquake, many of my friends and family members did. Earthquakes can occur at any time (Click here to see the most recent from around the world), and they don’t care if it’s during your vacation. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what to do if one just so happens to disrupt your daily activities.

Since I was not born in an area known for earthquakes, I have to say that I am not well aware of the protocol when the earth does decide to move. However, while spending a night in Bangkok this July, I did happen to read the manual that explained exactly what to do:

Hotel Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport's Earthquake Guide.

But, what if you are not in a hotel? What if you are outside, driving, or just alone in your home or a vacation rental with no staff to guide you along? Then, what?

According to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the following should be done:

If indoors:

– DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

– Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

– Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.

-Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load bearing doorway.

– Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

– Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

– DO NOT use the elevators.


If outdoors:

– Stay there.

– Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.

– Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle:

– Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle.

– Avoid stopping near or under buildings,trees,overpasses, and utility wires.

– Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris:

– Do not light a match.

– Do not move about or kick up dust.

– Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.

– Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use
a whistle if one is available.

– Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to
inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

FEMA information was taken from http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_during.shtm. Here you can find more information about what to do before and after an earthquake occurs.

Earthquakes can be scary, especially if you are away from home and loved ones when it happens, but following protocol can not only save your life, but it can also protect you from injury.

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