Earth is a fairly active planet. On average, around 50,000 perceptible earthquakes occur every year (those of magnitude 3.0 and higher). That's about 137 every day! About 120 earthquakes per-year are destructive (magnitude 6.0 and higher). That's one every 3 days. They are not very likely to occur in areas that are not considered earthquake risk areas, although Mother Nature is not totally predictable.
Even if you are not in a high earthquake risk area, knowing how to survive an earthquake can always come in handy if ever things change, or you travel to an earthquake risk area for business or vacation.
Earthquake Survival Techniques
If you are Indoors:
- "Drop, cover and hold on, within 3 seconds." - Take cover under a table or similar item if it is close by and hang on to it. This helps protect you from falling objects, but also from flying glass. Experience has shown that you are more likely to be killed or injured from building contents and imploding glass than from structural collapse. To protect yourself from these hazards, you must take protective cover within three seconds during an earthquake.
- If a table or something similar is not close by, drop to the floor against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Avoid windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and cabinets filled with heavy objects, where things can fall on you.
- If you are indoors, stay there! Do not try to run outside.
(This conventional technique of "Drop, cover and hold on" has been challenged by Doug Copp, who worked for the American Rescue Team International. He developed the TRIANGLE OF LIFE theory that claims that tables and other large objects you may use for cover often get crushed, but there is usually a triangular space left next to crushed objects where it is better to be during an earthquake. See http://omega.twoday.net/stories/308957/. But his challenge has been refuted by many people and organizations in the rescue field. See http://www.earthquakesolutions.com/id44.html.)
If you are Outdoors:
- If you are outside-- get into the open, away from buildings, power lines, chimneys, and anything else that might fall on you.
- If you are driving--stop, but carefully. Move your car as far out of traffic as possible. Do not stop on or under a bridge or overpass, or under trees, light posts, power lines, or signs. Stay inside your car until the shaking stops. When you resume driving, watch for breaks in the pavement, fallen rocks, and bumps in the road at bridge approaches.
- If you are in a mountainous area--watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees, and other debris that could be loosened by quakes.
- If you are on the beach, move to higher ground. An earthquake can cause a tsunami.
Things NOT to do during an earthquake:
Once the earthquake shaking stops:
- DO NOT turn on the gas again if you turned it off; let the gas company do it.
- DO NOT use matches, lighters, camp stoves or barbecues, electrical equipment, or appliances UNTIL you are sure there are no gas leaks. They may create a spark that could ignite leaking gas and cause an explosion and fire.
- DO NOT use your telephone, EXCEPT for a medical or fire emergency. You could tie up the lines needed for emergency response. If the phone doesn't work send someone for help.
- DO NOT expect firefighters, police or paramedics to help you. They may not be available.
If you are trapped in debris:
- Check the people around you for injuries; provide first aid. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger.
- Check around you for dangerous conditions such as fires, downed power lines and structure damage.
- If you have fire extinguishers and are trained to use them, put out small fires immediately.
- Turn off the gas only if you smell gas.
- Check your phones to be sure they have not shaken off the hook and are tying up a line.
- Inspect your home for damage.
- Move as little as possible so that you don't kick up dust. Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort.