Earthquakes

An earthquake is a sudden motion or trembling of the ground produced by the abrupt displacement of rock masses.

Primary effect of earthquakes include: total or partial destruction of structures; blockage or breakage of transport activities; interruption of water supply; breakage of sewage disposal systems; loss of public utilities, e.g. electricity & gas.

Direct and Indirect hazards can result in casualties from earthquakes.

Direct Hazards

  • Total or partial collapse of structures due to poor design and construction materials
  • Falling debris and dust from rubble
  • Transportation casualties due to collapse of bridges etc.
  • Floods from collapsed dams or river banks
  • Release of hazardous materials
  • Landslides
  • Tsunamis, loss of life by inundating low-lying coastal areas

Indirect Hazards

  • Fires
  • Release of hazardous material
  • Electrocution
  • Exacerbation of chronic diseases

Before an Earthquake

  • Potential earthquake hazards in the home and work place should be removed or corrected
  • Top-heavy objects and furniture should be fastened to the wall and the largest and heaviest objects placed on lower shelves
  • Water heaters and other appliances should be firmly bolted down
  • Pay special attention to emergency equipment, such as radio transmitters and medical equipment
  • Set aside emergency supplies and equipment
  • Learn First Aid
  • Teach family members how to turn off electricity, gas and water by learning location of safety valves and main switches

During an Earthquake

  • Protect head and face
  • Remain calm. Do not rush for exits
  • If inside, stay there, if outside, stay there
  • If inside a building, stand in a strong doorway, or get under a desk, table or bed
  • Move away from windows, glass doors, heavy mirrors, pictures, bookcases, hanging plants and heavy objects
  • Watch for falling plaster, bricks, light fixtures and other objects
  • Avoid using elevators as power may fail
  • If you're in an automobile, don't stop on a bridge, under or near to electrical poles or close to buildings from which debris may fall
  • Try to remain calm and reassure others
  • If you are in a store or shop, move away from display shelves containing bottles, cans, or other objects that may fall

After an Earthquake

  • Check for fires
  • Check Utilities - shut off if necessary
  • Check your house for serious damage - evacuate if there's threat of collapse
  • Check for injuries - administer First Aid
  • Be prepared for additional earthquake shocks
  • Collect water
  • Clear up hazardous materials
  • Assist others
  • Turn on a transistor for emergency bulletins
  • Stay away from landslide prone areas
  • Stay away from buildings that might have been weakened by the earthquake
  • Remain calm
  • Do not light a match or turn on a light switch. Use a flashlight!
  • Never touch fallen power lines
  • Do not use telephone except in extreme emergency
  • Do not go to the beach to watch for giant sea waves
  • Do not go sightseeing! Keep the streets clear for the passage of emergency and rescue vehicles
  • Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in danger of further injury

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