Planning & Mitigation

Surviving a Quake

Nothing beats alertness. Here are a few do’s and don’ts which will maximise your chances of survival. You can begin by finding out all you can about the earthquake risk in your area. Back that up by contacting the state geological survey offices, or other local disaster management offices. Be a leader in mapping the safest route in your locality, to the nearest evacuation point.

Once your knowledge base is clear, let us find out what provisions can be taken at home.

  • Pick ‘safe places’ in each room of your home. A safe place could be under a sturdy table or desk or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that may fall.

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  • Look for the shortest distance to safety. Statistics on injury show that persons moving more than 10 feet during an earthquake are most likely to sustain injuries.

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  • To prevent injury, drop, cover, and hold on to whatever safe place you find. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. When an earthquake or other disaster occurs, hesitation can take your life. Respond quickly and automatically, it may help protect you from injury.
  • Do not dismiss earthquakes as a part of destiny. Discuss earthquakes with your family. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing earth-quakes ahead of time helps reduce fear and anxiety and helps everyone to respond correctly.

What is an Interior Wall?
This is the wall within the house which has no connection with the outer wall. Also find safe corners where interior walls with no doors or windows meet!

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However if you are away from home, in your workplace or in school/ college, What should be your precautionary measures?
Small children often find it difficult to understand such phenomenon. A drill, framed as a game may ensure their safety.

  • If you’re indoors during an earthquakes the drill remains the same, drop, cover, and hold on. Get under desk table or bench. Hold on to one of the table’s legs and cover your eyes.
  • If there’s no table or desk nearby, sit down against an interior wall. Stay away from things that can fall on you.
  • If you have too many buildings around, do not try to run out! It is dangerous, as bricks, roofing, and other materials may fall from the buildings following an earthquake. Open spaces or grounds, however, are relatively safe. But then again, stay clear of trees, streetlights and power cables. These may also fall, causing damage or injury. Under all circumstances, stay away from windows, as they can shatter or break with such a force that it can injure you several feet away.

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  • If you are in a coastal area, move to higher ground. Tsunamis are often created by earthquakes. If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert, as rocks and other debris loosened by the earthquake may fall, Landslides commonly happen after earthquakes.

Prevention at Home
It doesn’t hurt anyone to be a bit organized. Perhaps the tips below would sound fatalistic, but adapt a few to reduce the risk factor.

  • Brace or anchor high or top-heavy objects. During an earthquake, these items can fall over, causing serious injuries.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. The contents of cabinets can shift during the shaking of an earthquake. Latches will prevent cabinets from flying open and contents from falling out. In fact store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, flammable products and other chemical products in confined locations. This way these products will not create hazardous circumstances at the time of an earthquake.
  • If you live or work in a high rise building, ‘consider having it evaluated by a professional structural design engineer. Ask for strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, lintels, front and back decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, and garage doors. A professional can give you advice on how to reduce structural damage. Smaller homes may also be evaluated although the risk factor is lower here.

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Travelling During an Earthquake?
If you are travelling in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there until the shaking stops. Trees, power lines, poles, street signs, and other overhead items may fall during earthquakes. Stopping will help reduce your risk, and a hard-topped vehicle will protect you from flying or falling objects. Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution. Avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the quake.

Quake Check
In the event you have experienced an earthquake of a forceful magnitude, here is a list of to do’s that you can follow.
Check yourself for injuries. Often people tend to help others without checking their own injuries. You will be in a better shape to take care of others if you are not injured or if you have received first aid for your injuries.
Protect yourself from further injury by puffing on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and gloves. This will protect you from further injury by broken objects.
Help neighbours who might require assistance. Elderly people and people with disabilities may require additional care.

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Check House
Look for and extinguish small fires to minimize fire hazards. Putting out small fires quickly, using available resources as this will prevent them from spreading.
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. This will help you avert the hazard of a chemical emergency.

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Open closet and cabinet doors cautiously. Contents may have shifted during the earthquake and may fall causing further damage or injury. Inspect your home for damage.

Get everyone out if your home is unsafe. Aftershocks following earthquakes can cause further damage to unstable buildings. If your home has experienced damage, get out before aftershocks occur.

Stay out of damaged buildings. If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe. Damaged buildings may be destroyed by aftershocks following the main quake.

Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights to inspect your home. Kerosene lanterns, torches, candles and matches may tip. Examine walls, floor, doors, staircases and windows to make sure that the building is not in the danger of collapsing.

Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell wires burning, turn off the electricity at the main fuse of the circuit box and call an electrician for a check.

Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber.

Watch for loose plaster, dry wall and ceilings that could fall.

Leave a damaged building through the staircase, rather than the elevator, as an elevator can be prone to fire.
Above all crouch and cover your head

Check outside
Listen to a portable, battery-operated radio (or television) for an update on emergency information and instructions. If the electricity is out, this may be your main source of information. Local radio and local officials provide the most appropriate advice for your particular situation.

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Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines, and stay out of damaged areas. Hazards caused by earthquakes are often difficult to see, and you could be easily injured.

Use the telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies. Telephone lines are frequently overwhelmed by disaster situations. They need to be clear for emergency calls to get through.

Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard. The behaviour of pets may change dramatically after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive.

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