How to survive an earthquake?

A boy shows how he survived an earthquake.

In reality, few people know what to do in an earthquake. 

Nevertheless, the spate of disastrous earthquakes in this century has led to increased research about earthquake protection. 

So what can one do before or during an earthquake?

Advance earthquake preparedness


First, sit down with your family and select some potential places of refuge in your neighborhood.

Arrange where to meet in case you are separated, and establish which routes each can take to get there. 

Discuss dangerous places that should be avoided, such as gasoline stands (stations), which could explode. 

Because of the danger of fire, teach your family how to turn off the gas and electricity where they enter your home. 

Make sure everyone knows how to put out fires. If you will need help with old or sick people, arrange this with your neighbors.

Do you live in an earthquake zone? Then it may be practical to secure heavy furniture that is likely to topple over. 

Heavy and dangerous objects, including containers of flammable liquids, should be stored down low or at least at the back of shelves. 

Also, anchor any propane-gas cylinders that may be on hand.

Prepare earthquake kit for an earthquake


Following a disaster, one must often wait two or three days for help.

So it is recommended that families living in earthquake zones always keep on hand a three-day supply of water and food. (Canned or dried food is recommended.) 

If it is necessary for you to evacuate your home, authorities recommend taking along a ‘emergency kit’ consisting of the following:

1. A three-day supply of water.

2. A first-aid kit.

3. A flashlight.

4. A transistor radio, in order to receive accurate information and instructions.

5. Clothing, strong shoes, blankets, underclothing, towel, and tissues.

What to do when an earthquake strikes


Above all, do not panic! The first quake is usually the most severe and seldom lasts more than a minute. If you are able to move around, though, get busy. 

Extinguish all sources of fire. Gas leaking from broken pipes means danger, as do exposed wires and appliances left on. 

Therefore, turn off the gas and electricity at their sources as quickly as you can. Open a door or a large window—which could get jammed shut—so that you will have an escape route. 

Then get under a desk or a table. A desk’s drawers serve as reinforcement. Thus, desks are often able to support several tons of weight without being crushed. 

Wooden desks are usually stronger than metal ones. Dr. Yuji Ishiyama of the Building Research Institute of Japan advice's :

I firmly believe that telling people to take refuge under a desk far surpasses any other advice one could give.”

If no desk is available, crouch or lie by the side of a sofa, bed, or some other strong piece of furniture that will not topple over. Do not crawl under, as the legs can easily snap. 

Try to protect your head. Because of having so many walls in a small area, the bathroom may very well be your safest room.

Buildings react differently to different frequency waves. 

Besides not knowing when an earthquake will hit you, you may not know what kind of building you will be in or which buildings will be most affected. 

This makes it difficult to lay down universal rules for safety.

However, standing in the doorway in countries where door frames and lintels are built strong enough to support the weight of the building above and around may help you to survive. 

Please note that the above instructions will not apply if you are in a house that is very old or not reinforced. 

Experts say that if an earthquake finds you in such a fragile building, it is best to get out immediately!

Put a big cushion or chair over your head for protection from falling tiles, etc., and move out quickly. 

What if a fire breaks out

Obviously, you should deal with it as soon as possible, perhaps calling your neighbors for assistance. 

Remember that however bad the fire, there is usually breathable air just above the floor.

Suppose, though, that a quake finds you in a location other than your home?

Large buildings: 


Do not attempt to rush outside, as elevators and stairs can be death traps during earthquakes.

If you cannot get under a desk, get near pillars or other main supports of the building. 

Stay away from objects that could fall on you, and avoid glass, which might break. 

Oftentimes, the managers of schools, department stores, and theaters have set procedures to follow in case of an emergency. 

So follow instructions and do not act independently.

City streets: 


Get away from telephone poles, hanging signs, and signboards. 

Watch out for falling roof tiles and breaking glass. 

If there are no parks or other open spaces nearby, seek refuge in a well-constructed building.

Underground Railway Passages and Stations: 


These have held up well in quakes in Mexico, Japan, and Greece. The greatest danger is fire. 

People, though, often panic at the thought of being trapped and make a mad dash for the stairs and exits. 

It is best, however, to remain underground until the initial earthquake is over and wait for instructions.

Automobiles: 


Roads must be left open for fire engines, ambulances, and emergency services. 

In some places the roads are narrow, and so it is advisable to pull over to the side of the road, stop, turn on the radio, and wait for instructions.

Beaches: 


Get to high ground as fast as possible. There may be tsunamis, or seismic sea waves, up to a hundred feet [30 m] high and traveling at hundreds of miles per hour! 

Usually, the second and third tsunamis are even stronger than the first.'

Conclusion


Of course, it is hoped that you will never experience an earthquake’s horror. But with adequate preparation, many people have survived major disasters. 

So be prepared! Stay calm and obey warnings and instructions issued by the proper authorities. You will increase your chances of surviving an earthquake!

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