Earthquake Survival Guide



Technically speaking earthquakes are the vibrations which are caused when underground rocks break under stress. Earthquakes are very dangerous natural disasters as they cannot be predicted with accuracy and can initiate other hazards like floods, landslides, fires, avalanches or tsunami waves.

Earthquakes are not long lasting disasters and are usually over in a matter of seconds but can wreak havoc. Since they are unpredictable it is very important for a person to know what to do instinctively. The key to being safe during an earthquake is education and a few precautionary measures.

The science of earthquakes: A detailed article by the US geology survey on what earthquakes really are.
What is an earthquake?: An article by Geoscience Australia discussing earthquakes.
Facts about earthquakes: A detailed fact sheet on earthquakes.
All about earthquakes: A detailed section on the NASA website on earthquakes.
Largest earthquakes of the 20th Century: A list of the largest earthquakes in the world since 1900.
Earthquake list: A Wikipedia list of all earthquakes.

The following is a list of certain important guidelines that could help you stay safe during an earthquake.

Prior to an Earthquake â€" Precautionary Measures

  • All members of your family or office should be given basic safety instructions including actions required during an earthquake, identification of safe places, identification of places to avoid.
  • Always keep emergency supplies including: clean drinking water, canned or packed food, first aid kit, critical medication, eyeglasses, portable radio, flash light, spare batteries, a knife and clothes.
  • Prepare your home for the eventuality. For example, keep heavy objects lower to the ground, keep cabinets locked, etc.
  • Fasten heavy things (appliances, furniture) to the floor.
  • Keep flammable liquids away from sources of ignition.
  • Decide on a place where everyone should meet after an earthquake. This place should be such that it has minimal chances of being devastated by the earthquake and should be reachable.

Want to survive an earthquake?: An article on learning how to survive an earthquake by the Washington Military Department.
Survive an earthquake: An article by health24 on how to survive an earthquake.

When an Earthquake Strikes!

  • If you find yourself indoors, stay there and move to a safe location.
  • Drop to the floor.
  • Take cover under something sturdy or hide next to something sturdy.
  • Hold on to what you decide to take cover under.
  • Stay away from windows, large mirrors, hanging objects or fireplaces.
  • If you are in the kitchen when it strikes then immediately step away from the refrigerator, stove, and overhead shelves. Also remember to turn off the stove.
  • If you are outdoors you will need to move to an area where falling objects will not hurt you. It is generally advised to stay away from buildings, power lines and trees.
  • If you are driving stop and keep on sitting in the vehicle. Do not park/stop under buildings, trees, bridges, and utility wires.
  • If you are stuck in a building and cannot find a sturdy piece of furniture, go to an interior wall and protect your head with your arms. Never use elevators during or immediately after an earthquake.
  • Do not run to get outside a building during an earthquake. People fleeing are usually hurt or killed by glass, debris, falling, cladding, and collapsing buildings and/or walls. Evacuate a building only after the shaking has stopped.
  • If a building has collapsed on you first make sure people around you are ok. Then try calling your emergency number.
  • Look for gas leaks or fires.
  • Stay where you are (unless it is not safe). Stay put until a few minutes after the shaking has subsided.

How to survive an earthquake: An article by the Telegraph on how to survive an earthquake.
Earthquake survival tips: A detailed article on tips to survive an earthquake.
Earthquake survival & buildings: An article on surviving an earthquake with respect to the kind of building you are in.
How to survive an earthquake in a car: A detailed article on how to survive an earthquake when it strikes you while driving.

Post-earthquake Destruction

  • See if you or the people around you are injured and need medical care
  • Identify and assess the damage to your house/building. If the damage is high do not go in until safety inspectors give you the go ahead.
  • Look for gas leaks. If there is one get everyone out and aerate the place. Turn of the gas from the main line if possible.
  • Check if your electrical network is damaged. If you have a power outage, disconnect major appliances so as to prevent damage when power returns.
  • Sparks, frayed wires and smell of burning insulation is a warning sign and requires immediate power shut off from the mains.
  • Get rid of dangerous spills. E.g. spilled gasoline could be fatal if it comes into contact with something flammable.
  • Avoid damaged areas in your house and outside.
  • Avoid drinking water in your taps unless you are sure that it is clean.
  • Look for fires.
  • If you are in your car be cautious when returning home do not take roads, bridges, or ramps that were damaged by the earthquake.

Survival during an earthquake: A wikihow article on how to survive an earthquake
CERI: the official site for the Center for Earthquake Research and Information, Memphis.
Living on shaky ground: A graphic based article on how to survive an earthquake.
Earthquake survival kit: An article on detailing things that go into making a good earthquake survival kit.
Earthquake safety: An article on earthquake safety tips.

After every major earthquake there are aftershocks. Don’t be misled by their name as these have enough capability of damage. Aftershocks can be very mild or as powerful as the earthquake itself.
It is not just the few minutes after the earthquake that are aftershock critical; aftershocks have been recorded to have occurred after one hour, days, weeks, and even months after an earthquake.
Aftershocks are especially dangerous as they can complete the damage inflicted by the earthquake and knock down buildings damaged in the main quake.

How surviving an earthquake works: An article on how stuff works about surviving earthquakes.
Earthquakes in Australia: The 10 most devastating earthquakes in Australia.
Most devastating earthquakes: A top 10 list of the most devastating earthquakes of all time.
Earthquakes in 2012: A wikipedia list of all the earthquakes in 2012.

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