Earthquakes do not really harm a person directly. What I mean is that, people don’t drop dead because of the shaking ground. In the movies we sometimes see people eaten up by the ground and end up falling into fiery pits. However, such incidents doesn’t really occur in real life.
The greater risk is in the magnitude of the quake that may cause natural and manmade structures to fall and cause injury and even death.
Having been In Japan in the 2011 Earthquake, I speak from expereince!
What do we need to look out for when earthquakes happen? Let us look at the following:
The effect of ground shaking. Earthquakes happen when the rock underground breaks along a fault. What happens is that energy is instantly released resulting to seismic waves which then causes the ground to vibrate. Once the ground shakes, depending on its intensity, it causes a lot of damage. Buildings can be severely damaged during strong earthquakes.
Liquefaction. This occurs when sand and groundwater are mixed together during an earthquake. Once water and soil combines, the ground softens and acts like quicksand, sinking whatever is on top of the ground. But after the shakings, and once the water settles back deeper into the ground, the ground firms again.
Liquefaction is hazardous, especially in areas that have groundwater near the surface.
Landslides, mudslides, and avalanche. Landslides or landslip are commonly experienced in onshore environments. This may be accompanied by rock falls, debris flow, and deep failure of slopes.
Mudslides or mudflows is basically a downhill movement of mud and water and fragments of rocks and other debris. An avalanche, on the other hand, pertains to the rapid flow of snow on a sloping surface.
Ground displacement. The second hazard that earthquakes may bring is ground displacement along faults. When a building or any structure is situated on a fault, ground displacement can severely cause damage and even rip that structure apart.
Flooding. Earthquakes can also cause flooding because strong vibrations in the ground may break dams within the affected area. When a dam or any water reservoir is ruptured during an earthquake, it results to heavy flooding, damaging buildings and even drowning people.
Tsunami. A tsunami which literally means “harbor wave” in Japanese, is basically an earthquake that occurs under the ocean. During this occurrence, there is a displacement of a large volume of water that results to a series of big waves. When these waves hit the harbor, it can crush and sweeps whatever gets on its way.
Fire. Lastly, fire is also counted as an earthquake hazard. When gas lines and power lines are broken, or when stoves are tipped over during an occurrence of a great earthquake, it can start up a fire that may lead to houses and buildings getting burned up.
People have no power to stop an earthquake from happening. The only thing we can do is minimize the effect that it might cause us by looking at the hazard and understanding how we can mitigate them. How? We can identify areas where there are earthquake faults, we can lessen the effect of the catastrophe when we build safer infrastructures, and most importantly, we can respond properly when the inevitable happens by learning the best preventive measures.
Earthquake Safety Tips
Here are simple safety steps before, after, and during an earthquake that might save you from its destructive effects:
Preparing for an earthquake. It’s a good thing that earthquakes are partially predicted. But knowing is just half the equation. If there’s any news of earthquake being predicted in or near your area, make sure that you take advantage of that information—prepare for what may happen.
- Keep your space secured. Check for items hanging on your walls or ceilings, or any other moveable items that may fall off during an earthquake. Make sure that you keep these things secured and fastened.
- Secure your safety. Device a disaster plan and find carefully strategize how you can keep communication lines open during an emergency.
- Store up some disaster supplies. Organize the necessary items that you might need in case of an earthquake and its aftermath. Make sure your earthquake survival kit is stored somewhere safe and convenient for you to pull anytime.
- Secure yourself financially. As earthquakes may cause heavy damages to us and our properties, it is wise to take any measures that would save us from financial hardships. This can be done by making sure our houses are built using quality materials, and considering insurance plans.
More Earthquake Safety Tips
Surviving Recovering from an earthquake. Knowing what to do will help us how to respond in case of an earthquake. Your level of preparedness will determine your chances of survival. The most basic steps to do during an earthquake is to:
- Stay as calm as possible and do not panic. When you are overwhelmed with fear, there is a greater chance that you won’t be able to think straight and respond with a clear mind.
- Drop to the ground, take cover, and hold on until the shaking stops.
Indoors. In the absence of tables or desks for you to take cover, you may stay in an inside corner of a building. Then, use your hands and arms to cover your head and neck.
Outdoors. Step away from buildings, wires, or steep slopes.
Driving. Pullover in a safe spot and stay inside the car until the shaking is over.
Elevator. Get out of the lift as quickly as possible.
Tunnel. Move out as fast as safety permits.
- After the earthquake, move to a more secured place to prevent more injuries. See a doctor immediately if necessary. Keep away from any severely damaged buildings.
- Check out for gas leaks, or damaged water supply, and report it to the proper maintenance personnel.
Urban Survival becomes very real in an earthquake.
Whatever you do, If you live in earthquake prone area, be careful and be prepared!