Earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis – disasters lurk on every continent and in any weather. Throughout the years more and more focus has been placed on techniques for surviving such catastrophes. We’ve learned to run to a basement or low land should a tornado strike and we’ve also learned more now about earthquake safety in recent years. Some things we were previously taught about earthquake survival has since been updated to totally different precautions.
Formerly many people were taught to believe that you should stand in a doorway during an earthquake, but not true, say the experts. Should the ceiling collapse onto the door frame you’ll be crushed. The same goes for hiding under heavy objects. No matter how heavy the object it can likely be crushed by the weight of the building’s ceiling and roof. Many people have been found dead following an earthquake because they hid under a desk, table, or other seemingly heavy object.
The floor of a building is the best place to be when you find yourself indoors during an earthquake. That’s because, as the ceiling and roof crumble and fall, they flatten heavy objects until they are compact. There is generally an area, between the place where they collapse stopped, and the floor, where a person can survive. To some rescue workers, this space is known as the “triangle of life” or the “triangle of survival”. Lying next to a heavy object – not under it – will strengthen your chances of survival.
Not only is it important to lie next to a heavy object during an earthquake but you should also curl into a fetal position. The less space you take up the less likely you are to be injured. The fetal position is a natural response, for most animals, when faced with a sudden catastrophe.
Should you be asleep or in bed when an earthquake strikes simply roll out onto the floor. Stay up against the bed, preferably at the footboard. But, no matter where you are inside when an earthquake strikes, avoid stairs and elevators. Elevators often jam after a tremendous shake and fail to operate smoothly and you could find yourself trapped. Stairs are also very dangerous. As the building shakes, the stairs actually swing separately from the building, causing structural damage. And, if the steps look secure, they’re often trampled by hundreds of people trying to escape, then causing the collapse. Wait for rescue workers to give the okay for steps and elevators to be used after the catastrophe.
Although there are many techniques for surviving indoors during the course of an earthquake, it’s still much safer to be outside. When outdoors try to stand next to a building. If you’re in a vehicle get out quickly and lie down beside the car – never under it!
Some people survive earthquakes simply because of where they are and what surrounds them. For example, pallets of paper won’t compact, even after being hit with tons of roofing or ceiling material. The same goes for stacks of cardboard.
Wherever you may be when an earthquake strikes remember the simple rules of lying beside something heavy, standing close to a building while outdoors, and not remaining in your car. This knowledge can save your life – and the lives of those you love.