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Our country has been affected by earthquake just a few months ago. Luckily there was no damage in our house and everyone in the family was safe. But it surely gave us the shock of our lives.
Earthquake actually is defined as a weak to violent shaking of the ground produced by the sudden movement of rock materials below the earth’s surface. They are normally caused by sudden movements along the faults and plane boundaries of the earth (tectonic) and by movement of magma beneath the volcanoes (volcanic).
A friend of mine from the agency which governs situations like this, told me that there is no gadget invented yet to predict the occurrence of an earthquake. We can however prepare ourselves by knowing what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
He also told me that earthquake do not kill people. It is the building that kills people.
Damage has been done
As I have mentioned earlier, we have been struck by an earthquake just recently. Fortunately, there were few lives lost but the damage to property was severe. In our city, some building were slightly damage with cracks and one subdivision was abandoned.
The greatest damage was in one of our neighboring island, Bohol. It was noted that the intensity of the quake was measured at 7.2 and the epicenter was in the island of Bohol. As you may know, the Philippines is made up of 7,100 plus islands.
Take a look at these old churches of Bohol,. they were completely damaged by the quake. Luckily it did not occur on a Sunday where most of us Christians go to church.
There were areas in Bohol which became isolated, since the roads were impassable and help did not reached the area right away. Up until now, relief operations are ongoing to help the victims of the disaster.
Even the famous chocolate hills of Bohol which is a tourist attraction was not spared.Truly the damage was enormous. Sad again to note that earthquakes can never be prevented. That is why it is important to know what should be done before, during and after the earthquake.
Preparation is vital (before the earthquake occurs)
- Well, first and foremost, it would be advisable to have a disaster emergency kit at home. They do come handy not only when an earthquake occurs but also during calamities such as typhoon and other natural or man made disasters. You can check out my Disaster Kit hubpage for this.
- Shelves often shake and fall causing injuries and damage so insure that they are secured to the wall.
- Breakable items like bottled glass, bottled food, and china should be placed in close cabinets and possibly with latches.
- Mirrors on the wall should be secure enough as they break when they fall causing injuries and sometimes with severe effect.
- Electrical wiring should be check from time to time as well as gas connection. They are potential for fire risk even without the earthquake.
- Cracks in the ceilings as well as the foundations if there are any should be check and repaired. They are sign of weakness and perhaps possible structural defects.
- Locate safe areas within the house that you can use to cover should an earthquake occurs. It is best to know them in advance and incorporate these places during an earthquake drill..
- Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.Conduct earthquake drills. Not only in the office but likewise at home. People normally conduct earthquake drills in the workplace and in schools but rarely at home.
- Designate a safe area where everyone will go once evacuation is decided. That way, everyone will easily be accounted should an evacuation is done.
During the earthquake
There are different scenarios during the earthquake. You could probably be indoors, our outdoors and in different settings. You can also probably in your car or a vehicle. What you do entirely depends on where you are. Let us start with indoors.
The best thing you can do when you are inside a building like in your office or at home is to Drop to the ground and find a cover. A table would be a great place to stay under. Another would be a desk or furniture where you can slip yourself under. It is best to hold on there until the shaking stops. Unfortunately, if there isn't any, best would be is to cover your face and head and crouch your arms in an inside corner of the building or your house. As much as possible, stay away from glass and windows or anything that could fall. If you are in bed, then stay there until the earthquake stops. Use a pillow to protect your head.
It is advisable to stay in the house or building while the quake is going. Studies has shown that most injuries occur when a person move to different locations during the quake. Only when the shaking stops, and it is safe to go outside that you should go.
If however you are outdoors, then stay where you are. But should you be near any buildings, electrical post, electrical wires, then move away. Bear in mind that the greatest danger is when falling debris like glass and perhaps falling walls when you are outside.
When driving a vehicle along the road
Stop as soon as you are safe to stop and stay inside the vehicle. Once again avoid stopping near trees, overpass, buildings electrical post and wires as they may fall over the vehicle. The road could be damage so move slowly once the earthquake stop.
If trapped after the earthquake
There are certain things to avoid if ever you are trapped. Remember that there could be gas leak after the shake and a small spark may cause ignition to this gas. So never light a match. Stop moving to reserve energy and cover your mouth to avoid inhaling dust and other particles. Shouting should be done as a last resort as you may inhale dangerous amounts of dust.. tap on a pipe or a wall for rescuers to notice and locate you.
After the quake
After the earthquake, look around and check if it is safe to move and from there, exit the building. Remember aftershocks may occur. If any person is injured, assist them to safety. Be aware also that earthquakes may cause tsunamis so be careful if you live in a low level area near the sea.
Another thing to consider is the possibility of fire. During the shake, damage to electrical wiring as well as gas supply could cause the fire and should be taken into account. Make sure these things are inspected aside from checking the building for defects.
Listen to radios or perhaps news about the incident and be updated. Who knows you might be able to help in your own small way to people who might have been affected severely.