Earthquakes occur because of disturbances in the Earth’s crust which result in a sudden discharge of energy through seismic waves. In simple words when the two plates of the Earth’s crust – Sial and Sima – rub against each other, it gives birth to earthquakes. Also known as quakes or tremors, they are known to cause shaking, ground rupture, landslides, avalanches, fires, soil liquefaction, Tsunami and floods. They may also result in volcanic eruptions. Nature’s fury is so powerful that mere mortals like us can only hope to survive by taking preventive or reactive steps. Mitigation of risks pertaining to earthquakes and being prepared for the consequences goes a long way to minimize the damage to human lives and property. Here, is a list of top 10 earthquake safety tips.
The information of earthquake safety zones and locations is of great help in the event of the disaster itself which usually comes like a bolt from the blue with hardly any time to respond. Actions to be taken, the safe places in your house or workplace, and places to avoid are some of the foremost things that must be made known to all members of the house and office.
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It might sound paranoid but it is always good to keep an emergency kit ready. Flash lights with extra batteries, first aid kit, bottled drinking water, ten days to two weeks of food and medical supplies, blankets, battery operated radio, whistle, gloves, and sturdy shoes are some of the things which if available could help one survive till specialized help arrives. Organisations must ensure that they fulfill all the major security guidelines and abide by the earthquake safety tips.
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The things around your house or office must be arranged in such a manner so as to avoid maximum damage during earthquakes. Heavy objects must always be stored in lower shelves and breakable objects must be kept in cabinets with latched doors. Heavy objects must not be hanged or kept in the area where people are more likely to take refuge in the event of a quake.
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It is always a good practice to anchor (permanently fix) heavy furniture and appliances such as refrigerators, water heaters and book cases, as in the event of an earthquake they could lead to greater damage. Ensure that the process of anchoring heavy objects is taken seriously at your home and work place. It might just save your and your colleagues or family’s life someday!
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It has been seen that wooden buildings are safer in the event of an earthquake as compared to brick and concrete buildings. Wood is flexible and usually moves with the force of the earthquake without collapsing. But even if it collapses there is more chance of survival as injuries will be less with the risk of being crushed under the debris too decreasing substantially unlike in case of brick and concrete structures.
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Calmness is of outmost importance in the event if a calamity. It goes without saying that we should not panic even during an earthquake. Usually we have been taught that taking cover under desks or beds would save us during an earthquake. But there have been reports that when buildings collapsed, the weight of the ceiling proved to be too much for the desks or beds to bear thereby crushing it along with the people taking shelter under it. It has been seen that taking shelter in a fetal position next to large bulky objects often helps in survival.
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The stairs swing differently compared to the rest of the building in the event of an earthquake as they bump with the rest of the structure. There are high chances of people getting horribly mutilated if stuck in a staircase collapse. So avoid stairs in the event of an earthquake and even post quake until it is certified safe to use.
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It is always better to escape the building if you are near a window or door. Keep in mind that the doors or windows must lead you to an open space and do not bring you into some lobby or a closed and crowded place. Try to get to the outer walls of the buildings if not outside them completely. If you are stuck in the interior it would take more time for help to reach you.
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If you are in your car during an earthquake, get out and lie down next to it. Often people who had chosen to remain inside vehicles during earthquakes where crushed when roads below them gave away. When simply outdoor taking a walk during a quake, move away to open areas, stand clear of trees, power lines and buildings and drop to the ground while covering your head and neck.
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Aftershocks are a common phenomenon in a post earthquake situation. Even if the intensity of an aftershock is lesser than the earthquake, it must be treated seriously. The threat of falling debris and other dangers to life and property remain until experts confirm that no more aftershocks are likely to happen. It is therefore best to stick to the earthquake safety tips until authorities explicitly state that the situation is under control.
(img source: blogs.nytimes.com)