What are your chances of surviving a disaster such as nuclear fallout, financial crisis, floods, extreme heat or even earthquakes and war? Unless you are prepared, pretty slim. Here are some vital tips and suggestions to help you improve your chances of survival
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An earthquake is the result of movement within the earth. There are plates of rock covering the earth rather like scales on an armadillo. These plates are in a continual state of slow movement. Sometimes the plates grate against each other or one move above another, causing the layer above on which we live to be damaged. This is called seismic activity. The work seismic originates from the Greek 'seismós' meaning basically to shake or quake and seismic means earthquake.
The intensity of an earthquake is measured on what is called the Richter scale, named after the famous seismologist Charles Richter. Simplified the scale measures the amount of movement of the earthquake from 1 to over 10, with 1 being undetectable to devastating earthquakes of 8, 9 and 10. The March 2011 earthquake in Japan was measured at 9 and was the biggest earthquake in Japan ever measured.
Sometimes earthquakes can be predicted but often they cannot.
Where do earthquakes occur? The edges of the plates mentioned above have been located (see diagram) and it is mostly at the edges of the plates where
They sometimes grind against each other and cause earthquake upheavals. If you live in the middle of a plate there is much less likelihood of an earthquake in your area. That is not to say you would not have the effects of an earthquake from a more earthquake prone area however. Effects such as tsunamis, weather conditions changed in other areas can be the result of an earthquake. A disaster such as Fukushima in Japan is a good example of the effects of an earthquake spreading far and wide outside of the earthquake area.
So your location will have a bearing on what preparations would be needed in the event of an earthquake at or near where you live.
Preparing for an earthquake
Have the following in stock. Fire extinguisher, Flashlights with spare batteries, A first aid kit. A transistor or battery powered radio. If you have a smart phone or a tablet one can usually get a radio app for it also.
Ensure you know how to turn of utilities such as gas, water, electric to prevent potential leaks and short circuits.
Have an emergency plan of where your family will meet in any emergency, not just earthquakes, but fire and floods also. Hold regular drills with the family of what to do and where to go in any emergency.
If you know or are advised of an impending earthquake bolt down or secure any loose objects, furniture etc. Remove loose objects from high shelves, pictures from walls etc., so they do not fall on you when the shaking starts.
During an earthquake
During an earthquake one has to think quickly. The more prepared one is the less one needs to think about what to do. Here are some basic points to keep in mind.
If you are inside a building stay there. More people suffer injuries trying to get out of a building during an earthquake than remain in it. If possible get under something strong such as a sturdy table. Take lots of bedclothes or anything soft with you as a protection. Avoid being near windows. If there is nothing at hand you can use, cover your face with your arms and hands.
If you are in a building with an elevator or travelators or escalators, do not use them. It is very likely the elevators will not work anyway especially if the building becomes distorted. Internal doorways tend to be lightly built so better not to use them during an earthquake also.
If you are outside do not enter a building but remain outside. Move away from the building and the potential of falling walls, debris etc. During the 1933 Long Beach earthquake 120 people died and many injured from falling debris and walls collapsing. The ground movement usually does not cause much in the way of injury or death. It is the results of that movement such as buildings collapsing that causes the most havoc.
If you are in a car, stay in the car until the earthquake subsides. Try to park in the open and not under buildings, trees, cables and utility wires. Watch for roads, bridges and ramps on freeways that may have been damaged.
After an Earthquake
Check for any injuries first of all and tend to them first. Check the utilities for any damage such as leaks, electric shorts etc. If you smell any gas open all the windows and doors to allow it to escape and not build up. By the same token do not light any matches. Use torches to see by.
If outside keep away from buildings, trees and power lines. These may still fall even well after the earthquake has subsided. Also keep away from beaches. A tsunami can be a real possibility after an earthquake, sometimes minutes or hours after as the wave travels across the ocean or sea.
If you find yourself trapped under debris or in a building that has collapsed, keep as still as you can. Do not light a match in case there are gas leakages if the building uses gas. Cover your mouth with some cloth such as a handkerchief or clothing to reduce the dust intake. Do not shout as this will use up more oxygen and also cause you to inhale more dust. Tap on walls, pipes, anything at hand to attract attention.
Do not assume it is all safe ones the earthquake has finished. There can often be aftershocks and, although these are usually milder than the main earthquake can still produce more damage. Already weakened buildings and walls can then collapse so should be avoided.
Turn on your radio or smartphone radio app and listen for any emergency procedures being put into place.
Check others in your area, neighbours, workmates etc., to ensure they are safe and if not report to authorities as best you can. If they are injured, do not move them but call for emergency services to do so.
One of the more common hazards after an earthquake is fire. If it is small and you have an extinguisher then put it out. If it is a large one, notify emergency services and move yourself and anyone else you can to a safer distance.
With some prevention in place and understanding the importance of how to act during and after an earthquake, many lives can be saved.
The above is a brief outline of what one can do to prepare for, during and after an earthquake and, as stated previously. The more one know knows and understands and practices the better. There is likely many more things one can do before, during and after an earthquake. The above is simply some basics.