An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the
result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates
seismic waves. The seismicity or seismic activity of an area refers to
the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of
time. Earthquakes are measured with a seismometer (also called a
seismograph). Earthquakes are usually caused when rock underground
suddenly breaks along a fault. This sudden release of energy causes the
seismic waves that make the ground shake. When two blocks of rock or two
plates are rubbing against each other, they stick a little. They don't
just slide smoothly; the rocks catch on each other. The rocks are still
pushing against each other, but not moving.
TO DO BEFORE
Basically, earthquake is an unexpected event which cannot be
predicted in advance. Hence, the only way to save yourself and your near
and dear ones, is with adequate preventive measures. Here is an
earthquake safety checklist that will help you in your preparation work
in this regard:
- The first step of earthquake safety precautions is to be sure
that the building in which you are living, meets the earthquake
construction requirements. Also ensure that the roof and chimney are in
- Arrange all the cupboards of your house in such an order that the
heavy items are stored in the lower racks. Thus you can ensure that
those heavy items will not be thrown off like projectiles at the time of
- Secure the cupboard doors with latches, so that they do not open
during an earthquake and prevent things kept inside them from falling
- Bulky objects in your house like refrigerator, bookcases, air
conditioners should be fastened to the wall properly, so that they can
withstand maximum tremors. Keep hanging objects like lamps, mirrors,
picture frames, hanging plants away from beds. Also make sure they are
anchored properly, to prevent their fall.
- Fire may erupt inside the house after an earthquake. Hence, the
fire extinguishers on each floor of the building should be strategically
located, so that one can easily access them as and when they are
required. Find more articles on fire safety.
- Always keep an earthquake survival kit ready with you. It should
include first aid medicines, copies of useful documents like insurance
papers, birth certificates of all family members, doctors prescription,
non-perishable foods, sealed water bottle, flashlights, etc. It should
be kept at one such location of your house which can be easily accessed.
- At least one member of the family should have good knowledge of first
aid measures which will help if someone gets a bad injury. This is
important because the medical emergency services often gets overloaded
after this kind of natural disaster. Even many of the medical equipment
may not be in working condition after the incident.
- One of the the most vital aspect is earthquake safety for kids.
For this, you have to train them about the do's and don'ts during an
earthquake. Talk to them about how it feels when earthquake happens so
that they can recognize it early. Teach them how they can seek
protection by going under a desk or a table. Conduct mock earthquake
drills in your home regularly, and involve each member of your family in
WHAT TO DO DURING
- 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, window or anything else that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place (i.e. under a desk or in an inside corner).
- Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway. Brace yourself on the side with the hinges to avoid the door swinging at you.
- Stay inside until 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, even if they are working. There may be aftershocks.
- If you're in your hotel room, stay there. There are usually aftershocks, and sometimes they may be worse than the original earthquake. Under a sturdy desk or in an inside corner of your room is the safest place to be, even if you're on the 40th floor. If there's a heavy bookcase next to a match-stick desk, don't
WHAT TO DO AFTER
- Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
- Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called "tidal waves"). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
- Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
- Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
- Inspect utilities.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
- Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
- Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.