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Some Advice in Minimizing the Impacts of Earthquakes.

Updated on July 30, 2015

Geological disasters:

Geological disasters are caused by movements and deformations of earth's crust (Source: EIONet Gemet Thesaurus). These disasters include :.

  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Avalanches
  • Tsunami.

Earthquakes :

Earthquakes may be caused by (mostly) tectonic and volcanic activities. Tectonic earthquake occurs when shifting tectonic plates release a sudden energy and causes seismic waves. The waves are measured with seismograph or seismometer and will be converted into Richter Magnitude Scale or widely known as Richter Scale. The size of earthquakes are also measured in MMS (Moment Magnitude Scale) which was developed in 1970 as a new formula to measure large modern earthquakes.

Earthquakes in 7 Richter Scale or above may cause large damage and victims are mostly taken due to the collapsed buildings instead of directly caused by the earthquake itself.

volcanic eruptions :

The expel of molten rocks and associated gases through a vent or opening that connects with the reservoir below the earth surface.

Avalanches :

An avalanche is an abrupt and rapid flow of snow, mixed with air and water, down a mountain side. Avalanche is one of severe disasters in the snowy mountains which often takes a lot of victims and causes property loss.

Tsunami :

Tsunami is a series of huge waves which is mostly caused by earthquake, volcanic eruption, submarine rock slide, or might be caused by meteorit or asteroid which hit the earth.

Most tsunamis caused by underwater earthquakes but not all underwater earthquakes cause tsunamis. It needs around 7 Richter Scale-earthquake or above for a tsunami to happen.

Can Earthquakes be Predicted ?

Scientists say that forecasting when and where an earthquake will hit accurately for short term use is something very hard to do or almost impossible but scientists make progress in their research and they've found one new study has been laid to give a path way for the scientists to make earthquake forecast in the future : Ionospheric anomalies prior to an earthquake.

Advice Given by Mitigation Experts.

Readiness and Alertness are Crucial.

We all agree that disaster is not something enjoyable to talk about but thinking about its anticipation is not wrong. Knowing basic knowledge in how to deal with disaster emergency situation which may happen all of a sudden is necessary. The knowledge will help us be always on alert and know what to do for rescue.

Experience in the past give us some important lessons. Japan people had excellent state of preparedness when earthquake and tsunami struck the country on March 11, 2011. Their preparedness in dealing with the disaster had saved many lives .

Another contrast situation when people are engrossed with day-to-day life business so that they don't have awareness and preparedness on emergency situations like what happened in Aceh earthquake. It was on December 26, 2004 when a magnitude 8.9 RS earthquake followed by a tsunami hit the province located at the tip of Sumatra island. Many of Acehnese didn't know what to do to face such a sudden, massive disaster, so when the sea receded after the earthquake 8.9 Richter Scale jolted the area, people living at Aceh beaches didn't take it as a tsunami warning but many of them tried to catch fish which were temptingly seen on water which was shallower than usual due to receding water.

When tsunami swept the province that morning,lead by their instincts people rescued in their own ways. Most of them tried to ran faster than the swallowing black, dirty waves behind them, many made other efforts like climbing the coconut trees, ran upstairs to the second floor of their houses, fled to the hills, drove and sped up their motorized vehicles. More than 130,000 people couldn't manage to save their life and not less 3.5 trillion rupiah (around 37 billion US$) was needed to recover and bring back Aceh to normal condition.

Since then people and mitigation crew trainings have been held and disaster-related information has been socialized, and many board signs and Tsunami early warning systems have been placed at beaches and coastal areas with tsunami risks in Indonesia.

Triangle of Life
Triangle of Life

Stay Calm, not Panic, and make the Right Actions.

One thing which is considered very important to be always remembered : Stay calm, not panic, and make the right actions.

One figure with extensive experience and knowledge in mitigation process, Dough Copp, gives advice when earth quakes happen in one area.

Copp's Dos and Don'ts.

According to Doug Copp, a chief and Disaster Manager at American Rescue Team International (ARTI), there are some imprtant things people must do when they're in an area either inside or outside buildings/rooms during and after an earthquake :

The dos when you are indoor :

  • Drop your body on the floor and take fetal position next to a desk, big chair, couch or bed. Fetal position is a natural survival instincts performed by cats, dogs and babies. According to Copp, areas next to big chairs, couches or beds provide safer places called Triangle of Life where people can avoid collapsing walls and ceilings.
  • Go to a room that has no windows and loose objects above head. Windows with glasses may cause cuts to the face and body when they're broken during earthquakes.
  • Choose next to a bed. When the earthquakes jolt while you're in bed, roll off the bed and lie down on the floor next to the bottom of the bed.
  • Go toward outer walls. Although it's not that easy, try to get the outer walls immediately. The farther inside you are from the outer walls, the more possibilities your escape route will be blocked.

Besides those recommended places, Dough Copp also gives the Don'ts :

  • Don't duck and cover. Those who stay duck and cover, even if they do it under desk or cars, are prone to be crushed by collapsed building. Find one of those safest places mentioned above instead of ducking and covering yourself.
  • Don't stay at the doorway. The doorway is often misunderstood as a safe place when earthquakes occur, but in fact the doorjambs are not strong enough to stand the fallen ceiling and that kills almost everyone who gets there.
  • Don't go to the stairs.

aftermath of an earthquake
aftermath of an earthquake

Inside home :

Some places inside home can give good protection. When the building shaking, stay away from objects possibly fall. Reach a pillow to protect your head if possible and go hiding under sturdy wooden desk is recommended. Switch of stoves, and unplug electronic equipment to avoid short circuits and sudden power input which may damage your equipment.

Slowly leave the house when the quake stops jolting avoid staying close to fractured, tilted buildings.

Outside home :

Stay away from concrete, walls, trees, power lines, and buildings. Beware of possibly falling glasses, advertisement boards and protect your head with hands, bags, or anything possible.

At the mall and cinema :

Don't panic and find signs or directions which lead to exit door or emergency exit. Stay away from large glasses, hanging lamps, windows.

Avoid jostling or pushing others which will only create chaotic situation and bring unnecessary victims.

In the Car :

If Earthquake happens while you drive, you'll feel as if the tires are bald and have no strong grips on the street. This condition may make the drivers lose control on their cars. Avoid going through an intersection and carefully pull over and stay in car.

Don't stop under flyover, underpass, or bridges.

At The Mountain and beach :

Be aware of possible landslide and avalanche when earthquake happens in the mountain. Don't stay under steep mountain sides, especially if those sloping sides have no vegetation. A bare sloping land will make a prone area for landslide and avalanche when earthquake shakes it.

Menacing danger on the beach if earthquake happens (with epicenter) near the beach is tidal waves and tsunami. Leave the beach area and go to high, safer land right away.

Inside a Lift.

It is not recommended to use lift when an earthquake just jolted but If you're inside a lift when an earthquake jolts, then puss all digits of the lift to stop it at nearest floor. Get out of it as soon as it stops and find a safe place or get out of the building through the emergency exits. Call the building management by the interphone provided in the lift to let them know your position.

A landslide at a bald slope.
A landslide at a bald slope.


Don't look for protection behind compound walls, some evidence of historical earthquakes proved that such walls were not strong enough to resist tsunami. Areas with mangrove trees and coconuts stand to tsunami better since those trees break the waves and them less powerful. Some survivors got advantage from the presence trees around the beach and managed to survive when tsunami struck Aceh in 2004.


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Always good advice of which to be aware. It seems that this earth of ours is more turbulent these days and disasters seem to be occuring more frequently. I recently read something about a triangle of safety meaning (for instance) that a person is safer being next to a desk, bed or other object rather than being under it because of being crushed if under the objects.

      Anything to do with safety is always good information to have if ever needed. Thanks for this article and BE SAFE!

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 7 years ago from Indonesia

      @nomoretrucks: I rally hope so that such disasters will never happen again so that we don't have to practice those tips. Thank you for attention to this hub.

      @Prasetio30: This sharing hub is to give some ideas what to do in critical situations so that we know what to do. I hope it's useful and applicable. Thank you very much for your kindness Prasetio.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      This was so horrible when it's happen to us. But thanks for remind us about useful tips dealing with natural disaster. I learn much from you. Well done, my friend. You got my VOTE. Take care!


    • nomoretrucks profile image

      nomoretrucks 7 years ago from scotland

      In light of what those poor souls suffered, and the folk on this hub i hope we never have to take some of this advice agusfanani. It goes to show how life is precious and not to be ever taken for granted ever. Respect and blessings for the future.