One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature
is a severe earthquake and its terrible aftereffects. An earthquake is a s
udden movement of the earth, caused by the abrupt release of strain that has accumulated over a long time.
For hundreds of millions of years, the forces of plate tectonic
s have shaped the earth, as the huge plates that form the earths surface slowly move over, under, and past each other. Sometimes, the movement is gradual. At other times, the plates are locked together, unable to release the accumulating energy. When the accumulated energy grows strong enough, the plates break free. If the earthquake occurs
in a populated area, it may cause many deaths and injuries and
extensive property damage.
Know The Terms
A sudden slipping or movement of a portion of the earths crust, accom-
panied and followed by a series of vibrations.
An earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earth-
The fracture across which displacement has occurred during an earthquake. The slippage may range from less than an inch to more than 10 yards in a severe earthquake.
The place on the earth’s surface directly above the point on the fault
where the earthquake rupture began. Once fault slippage begins, it expands along the fault during the earthquake and can extend hundreds of
miles before stopping.
Vibrations that travel outward from the earthquake fault at spe
eds of several miles per second. Although fault slippage directly und
er a structure can cause considerable damage, the vibrations of seismic waves cause most of the destruction during earthquakes.
The amount of energy released during an earthquake, which is computed from the amplitude of the seismic waves. A magnitude of 7.0 on
the Richter Scale
indicates an extremely strong earthquake. Each whole
number on the scale represents an increase of about 30 times more energy released than the previous whole number represents. Therefore,
an earthquake measuring 6.0 is about 30 times more powerful than one measuring 5.0.
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your property in the event of an earthquake:
• Repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas lines, and inflexible utility connections.
Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical
• Bolt down and secure to the wall studs your water heater, refrigerator, furnace,and gas appliances. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.
• Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves. Fasten shelves, mirrors, and large picture frames to walls. Brace high and top-heavy objects.
• Store bottled foods, glass, china, and other breakables on low shelves or in cabinets that fasten shut.
• Anchor overhead lighting fixtures.
• Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
• Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
• Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
• Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover, and hold
During and earthquake
• Take cover under a sturdy desk, table, or bench or against
an inside wall, and hold on. 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 fi xtures or
• 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 fi xture that could fall.
In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
• Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity
to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing
• Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go
outside. Most injuries during earthquakes occur when
people are hit by falling objects when entering into or
exiting from buildings.
• Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler
systems or fi re alarms may turn on.
• DO NOT use the elevators
- Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires
In a moving vehicle
• Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the
vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees,
overpasses, and utility wires.
• Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped,
watching for road and bridge damage.
Trapped under debris
• Do not light a match.
• Do not move about or kick up dust.
• Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
• Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a
whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort—
shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of
After an Earthquake
• Be prepared for aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage
to weakened structures.
• Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
• Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations.
• 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.
Like always keep your BOB ready and be ready to bail if needed.