“Rock on” is not always a good thing to say, specially when the world is shaking. In August alone, 13 incidents of earthquake in different regions all over the world (Peru; New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; Nikolski, Alaska; near Ahar and Tabriz, Iran; Near Hotan, Xinjiang, China; Sea of Okhotsk – a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean; Sulawei, Indonesia; Papua New Guinea; Molluca Sea; El Salvador; near Greenland; Guiuan, Samar, Philippines) been recorded, with the lowest magnitude at 6.1, both in land and in high seas.
September has just started, and on its third day, the south of Java in Indonesia shook with a magnitude of 6.4 and two days after, a 7.6 earthquake struck San Jose, Costa Rica-sending people panicking into the streets with an aftermath of a tsunami alert. Though the last earthquake only had one reported casualty, there’s not telling what next could come after.
Magnitude pertains to amount of energy released from the source of the earthquake while intensity measures the strength of shaking produced by the earthquake at a certain location. We are more familiar with intensity because it is determined from effects on people, human structures, and the natural environment.
In movies, you see scenes with the ground suddenly opening up and people falling into fiery pits, but this simply can’t happen in real life. Earthquakes pose little danger directly to a person, people can’t be shaken to death by an earthquake. What makes earthquakes dangerous are the the hazards it can pose after; aftershocks, landslides, tidal waves (tsunamis), avalanches, fires , flooding, roads and building damage, broken glass lines and even spill of hazardous chemicals.
We need to learn to anticipate such natural occurrences, because, the key, after all to an effective disaster prevention is planning.
Here’s what you should do before, during and after an earthquake.
Know the earthquake hazards at home, where you work and where you normally spend time.
- Follow structural design and engineering practices when constructing a house or building.
- Evaluate the structural soundness of the buildings and houses; strengthen or make adjustments if necessary.
Prepare your homes, workplace or schools.
- Strap or bolt heavy furnitures and cabinets to the walls.
- Check the stability of hanging objects like ceiling fans and chandeliers.
- Breakable items, harmful chemicals and flammable materials should be stored properly in the lowermost secured shelves.
Familiarize yourself with the exit routes.
- Know where fire extinguishers, first aid kits, alarms and communication facilities are located. Learn and how to use them beforehand.
- Prepare a handy emergency supply kit with the first aid kit, canned food and can opener, water, clothing, blanket, battery-operated radi, flashlights and extra batteries.
- Conduct and participate in regular earthquake drills.
- Stay calm and try not to panic. If you are inside a structurally building, stay there. If possible quickly open the door for exit.
- Duck under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it, or protect your head with your arms.
- Stay away from glass doors, windows, shelves cabinets and other heavy materials.
- If you’re outside, move to an open area.
- Stay away from tress, powerlines, posts and concrete structures.
- MOve away from steep slopes which may be affected by landslides.
- If you’re near the shore and feel an earthquake, especially it is’s too strong, move quickly to higher grounds. Tsunamis might follow.
- If you’re in a moving vehicles, stop and get out.
- Be prepared for aftershocks. Once the shaking stops, take the fastest way out of the building.
- Don’t use elevators and don’t enter damaged building. Don’t use telephones unless necessary, and most of all, try not to panic.
- Check yourself and other for injuries, check water and electrical lines for damages and for spill of chemical and toxic materials.
- Watch out for displaced flammable materials and control fires which may spread.
- If you need to evacuate your residence, inform someone where you are going and bring your emergency supply kit.
- Keep yourself posted on disaster preventions instructions and announcements from authorities.
Earthquake Preparedness Guide, PHILVOLCS, Department of Science and Technology