There has been an alarming number of earthquakes around the world lately. Most if these occur in what is called the Pacific Ring of Fire. Majority of these occurrences are around 2.5M but there are few that rank higher in magnitude and caused devastations in Haiti, Chile and now, China. We are all worried that we might be the next one hit at anytime. Are earthquakes really increasing in number and in magnitude? Should we all be concerned? How are we to prepare for it?
In an interview with CNN, Dale Grant, geophysicist of the United States Geological Survey, states that all these quakes we’re having are all part of the norm. There are no significant increase in number or strength. Instead it is just that these earthquakes, which usually occur in uninhabited locations, happened in populated areas, thus caused structural devastation and death to unsuspecting citizens.
There are an average of about 16 earthquakes with magnitude 7 or higher every year since the 1900s. Most of these happen in underwater so we hardly notice them. It is only when they hit in the middle of our cities and towns that they create such massive destruction and take numerous lives. The disconcerting part of it all is that there is still no clear process to predict where an earthquake will hit next.
Thus, we must all be ready on any eventuality. For this, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published an e-book aptly titled Family Readiness Kit: Preparing to Handle Disasters. It is a good book and it helps families to devise their own preparations in case of any disaster and how to care and look after each other in any event. You can get a copy for free here.
One of the most basic things to do on preparing for any disaster is to ready a “grab-and-go bag.” It is a bag containing some basic items from toiletries to can openers to clothing and important documents that you need. Here is s list of things that you could put in your “grab-and-go bag:”
Battery flashlight/radio Personal medication Basic first aid kit Personal items (glasses, contact products etc) Book/game Family photos Personal papers (photocopies of insurance papers, ID) Walking shoes Change of clothing Water bottle Snack (tea/coffee) Non perishable food Light weight emergency blankets Whistle and map Toiletries (toothbrush etc)
These is no preventing natural disasters but we may reduce the damage they could cause us and minimize casualties if we prepare enough for them. Check out the Red Cross’ Emergency Preparedness Checklist. You can make adaptations in it if you are not residing in America. Still, it is a very useful piece of information especially in the wake of the earthquakes. So, even if we are unaware when and where the next earthquake (or for that matter any other environmental catastrophe) will be, we can rest assured that we are prepared for it and we’ll take it as it comes.
What to Do During an Earthquake
Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture. Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place. Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway. Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave. Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on. DO NOT use the elevators.
Stay there. Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
If in a moving vehicle
Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires. Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
If trapped under debris
Do not light a match. Do not move about or kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Taken from the FEMA website