The definition of an earthquake is a sudden, unexpected, fast shaking of the earth’s surface, which is primarily caused by the shifting of the tectonic plates below the surface of the earth. Earthquakes can happen anytime, anyplace, and they occur without warning. It is just a sudden shaking, and then it’s all over.
When you think about an earthquake, you immediately think of destruction. But you can also think about preventive measures that you can take to make sure you and your house survive an earthquake.
What to Do Before an Earthquake
If you live in an earthquake zone and frequently experience them, this advice will already be familiar to you, and you will agree with it wholeheartedly. First, prepare an emergency survival kit that has all the necessary equipment in it: a first aid kit, medicine, about three to four days of canned food and water, and perhaps a radio. Then, talk with your family members and discuss creating an emergency earthquake contingency plan detailing how you will communicate with each other if you get separated, what to do in these circumstances, and decide on a safe meeting place after the situation calms down.
Conducting earthquake safety drills should also be an essential part of your plan. Performing such exercises can prepare your family for the real thing. Discuss different case scenarios and what to do in each. Drills can help a lot and prevent confusion if an actual earthquake occurs.
What to Do During an Earthquake
Drop, cover, and hold on.
Before the earthquake hits, there are a few minutes or seconds during which you must do everything it takes to ensure your survival. Remember the rule of drop, cover, and hold on.
Drop to the ground, be it that you are outside your house, in a car, or inside. The primary and most essential thing is that you should drop when you feel and see everything in your home shaking.
Next, cover. When inside the house, quickly get under your table or desk. If that is not a possibility, grab a pillow, a cushion, or any other soft object to shield your head and body. Then go crouch in the corner of your house where the likelihood of things falling on you is low. If you are outside your home and in an open space, get away as fast as you can from buildings that are threatening to collapse. Stay in an area with no trees, buildings, or power and grid lines to avoid getting trapped under them.
After doing all the above steps, be patient and hold on. Stay inside, under the table, or wherever you are taking cover, and hold on until the shaking completely stops. When you are sure it has stopped, only then, try and move from your spot and assess the damage.
What to Do After an Earthquake
What happens after an earthquake, and how should you deal with it?
Remember that many injuries occur after the earthquake when people go out of their homes to look for others. While doing so, they may inadvertently injure themselves or others. Another thing is that there may be aftershocks following the actual earthquake, which will cause damage as well if you are not careful and do not remain alert.
To ensure your and others’ survival, follow these tips and techniques. First, check yourself and other people for injuries. If there are any injuries, and you feel capable of handling them, administer first aid and then call an ambulance for those who are critically injured.
Check your home or building for any structural damage, like cracks or fissures in your roof or the structure. If you see any damage, report it immediately. Check for any type of leakage in the gas line or the waterline. Check for damage in the electrical wiring. If you smell even a hint of gas, turn the main connection off, open all the doors and windows, leave immediately, and report it to the appropriate authorities.
If there is no power, prevent further possible damage by unplugging or switching off all the appliances. So, when the power comes back on, you can see if there has been any damage to the switchboard, like frayed wires, or you see sparks or smell something burning, and take necessary action like turning the electricity off at the main fuse box and calling in an electrician.
Stay away from debris and don’t even think of going near a fallen building and areas that have suffered much damage. Do not enter the damaged buildings and other areas either. Also, stay far away from bodies of water in case a tsunami also occurs.
If you are trapped beneath the debris and rubble, do not panic, no matter how much you want to. Try and save your energy and only call for help when and if you know there are rescuers nearby who can hear you. Do not move too much as it will only disturb the dust and rubble and everything near you, and you will end up inhaling it and choking on it. One last thing to do if you are in this situation is to ration out your food and water and make it last as long as possible because it will be difficult to say when you will be rescued.
The possibility of you experiencing an earthquake depends on where you live. If you live in an earthquake zone, you will experience regular earthquakes, even if they are of the lowest density. And if you live in a zone where no earthquakes occur, well it is still better to be fully prepared instead of thinking about winging it and having a don’t care attitude which will not help in your survival struggle at all. So, in conclusion, take the above steps at heart, practice, and stay alert.