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How To Prepare For An Earthquake

Updated on October 22, 2011

What is an Earthquake?

An earthquake is defined as the phenomena in which large sections of tectonic plates of the earth’s crust move such that they either overlap each other or slide against one another, resulting in a mass seismic shockwave which is powerful enough to create cliffs and large opening in the earth’s surface.

Marking the edges of the tectonic plates are the fault lines which are basically the cracks in the earth’s crust.

Most earthquakes occur along the fault lines creating broken power and gas lines, landslides, snow avalanches, causing damage to the infrastructure, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

A damaged bridge after an Earthquake.
A damaged bridge after an Earthquake.

The scale that is used to measure the intensity or magnitude of an earthquake is known as Richter scale.

The magnitude of each earthquake is different from the other, depending upon some parameters which generally are distance, the ground condition, the areas construction standards, as well as other related factors.

Keeping these parameters in view the seismologists may use several different methods to estimate the magnitude of an earthquake. Following is the scale representing the intensity of an earthquake and the destruction it can cause.

Destruction in Haiti after an earthquake.
Destruction in Haiti after an earthquake.

Earthquake Destruction Depends On Its Magnitude

  • 3.5 Or less: You may not generally feel the earthquakes of these intensity but they are recorded on the Richter scale.
  • 3.5 to 5.4: These earthquakes do feel in general, however they rarely cause any significant amount of damage.
  • 5.4 to 6.0: These earthquakes are dangerous in the urban environment and can cause some damage to the well designed infrastructure but can cause serious damage if the structure is poorly constructed.

Damage in Haiti earthquake which measured around 7 on Richter scale.
Damage in Haiti earthquake which measured around 7 on Richter scale.
  • 6.1 to 6.9: These types of earthquake can be very destructive in areas up to 100 km of its radius.
  • 7.0 to 7.9: These are earthquake are included in the category of major earthquakes and are capable of causing serious destruction over very large scale.
  • 8.0 Or greater: These earthquakes are the most destructive earthquakes. They lie in the major quakes category and are well able to cause some serious destruction and damage within areas of several hundred km of its radius.

Earthquake Destruction Footage

People evacuating after an earthquake.
People evacuating after an earthquake.

Precautions and Mental Preparedness

It is a simple matter of fact the there are no such tools or gadgets known to man to actually predict the correct place and time of an earthquake.

Hence one should always be mentally prepared that an earthquake can strike anywhere at any given time of the day, and can cause more damage if one is not well prepared for such a calamity before time. 

Since we get to see that in many natural disasters and calamities the paramedics, policemen and even firefighters do not arrive in time, leaving one helpless and at the mercy of God.

Therefore one should be very clear that in that desperate time he is responsible for the safety and survival of himself and his family.

In this desperate need of time earthquake preparedness and earthquake emergency kits can mean the difference between life and death.

Earthquake Emergency Kit

The very basics of an earthquake emergency kit are first aid kits, medicines, and enough food and water supplies which should make you and your whole family last for at least the next 72 crucial hours.

The emergency kit should also be equipped with communication and navigation gadgets such as transistor radios, mobile phones and battery operated lights and lamps that will help you survive even when there is no electricity and gas.

Warm clothing and blankets are also a must if you are living in cold climate regions. Cutting tools and fire extinguishers must also be within easy reach so that if fire breaks out or you need to cut some pipe to make your way inn or out you should have the proper tools to deal with it.

Fire Fighters to the rescue in China.
Fire Fighters to the rescue in China.

Placing the earthquake emergency kit in your home is very essential, since a very narrow window of opportunity is provided by the earthquake so every member of your family should be well aware of the placement of the emergency tool kit and should be in easy reach of every one in the family.

The ideal place would be near the exit door of your house. When earthquake strikes the one family member most nearer to it should grab the emergency kit, should loud that he/she has got the emergency kit so that the rest of the family member can hear it and run his way out of the house/building into an open ground away from all man made structures as possible making sure that the rest of the family members follow. 

Tents setup in Haiti after one of the worst earthquakes in history.
Tents setup in Haiti after one of the worst earthquakes in history.

One should always remember to discuss earthquake survival with his family and let them know what to do when an earthquake strikes as there is no warning to it so these discussions must be done before time.

Major seismic activates are very rare but the can do occur without any warning. Thus keeping yourself well prepared before time can help you when there is no help at all. Remember to check your earthquake emergency kit after every six months and if required immediately refill and replace your supplies.    

Earthquake In Sumatra Measuring 9.1 On Richter Scale


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    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      Here is what I have read which I found logically useful :

      Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them - NOT under them. This space is what I call the 'triangle of life'. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the 'triangles' you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.

    • hassam profile image

      hassam 7 years ago from Pakistan

      It won't always be easy to get out of a building in time. This safety measure is taken to save us form falling debris.

    • profile image

      FMA 7 years ago

      I live in California. Is it safer to run outside during an earthquake. The advice I hear is to get under a strong table or stay in your bed if you happen to be there. But isn't that just putting you at risk of being trapped under rubble?