Earthquakes happen without notice and may happen anywhere. What begins as a routine day can soon turn into destroyed structures and huge landslides, resulting in significant loss of life and property. Unfortunately, such natural calamities are not uncommon in Pakistan. So, if you ever feel the ground shake, follow earthquake safety measures to keep you and your family safe.
What is an earthquake?
An earthquake is caused when the tectonic plates, which are constantly moving at a slow pace, suddenly shift due to a fault. The plates become stuck at their borders due to friction, but when the force at the edge becomes stronger than the friction, an earthquake occurs. This releases energy in the form of waves, which travel through the Earth’s crust and result in the shaking that we experience.
The Earth’s crust is composed of several large plates that float on the semi-liquid mantle. These plates can move and interact with each other, causing the release of energy in the form of earthquakes. This energy is released when two plates grind against each other, or when one plate slides under another.
The epicenter of an earthquake is the point on the Earth’s surface directly above the location where the energy was released. Earthquakes can cause damage to buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures, and can also trigger landslides, tsunamis, and other natural disasters.
The magnitude of an earthquake is a measure of its size and strength. It is usually measured on the Richter scale, which ranges from 1 to 10. Earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher can cause significant damage, while earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.0 or higher can be extremely destructive.
What Should be Done Before Earthquake?
An earthquake can occur at any time and without warning, so it’s important to be prepared. Also, know what to do before one strikes. This blog will provide tips and advice on what to do before, during, and after an earthquake to ensure your safety and minimize the risk of damage to your home and belongings.
Secure Your Home
To prevent your home from suffering damage during an earthquake, secure heavy objects, such as bookshelves, televisions, and appliances, to the wall. Install earthquake straps on your water heater and gas appliances to prevent them from tipping over. Ensure that heavy items in your home are stored in low, stable cabinets or on lower shelves to prevent them from falling.
Make a Family Emergency Plan
Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do during an earthquake and how to contact each other if you become separated. Ensure each member of your family knows where to go if an earthquake strikes, such as a safe room or designated outdoor place.
Gather Essential Supplies
Store a supply of non-perishable food, water, and first-aid supplies in a designated location in your home. Make sure to include a battery-operated radio, flashlights, and extra batteries in your emergency supply kit.
Know Your Building’s Structure
Familiarize yourself with the structure of your building and know what to do if an earthquake strikes. If you live in an older building, pay attention to any cracks in the walls or floors, and report them to the building owner or manager.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
Make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date and includes earthquake coverage. Take an inventory of your belongings and make sure they’re covered in the event of an earthquake.
Plan for Your Pets
Make sure to include your pets in your family emergency plan and make arrangements for their care in the event of an earthquake. Store extra food, water, and medication for your pets in your emergency kit.
Participate in Earthquake Drills
Participating in earthquake drills can help you and your family react quickly and effectively if an earthquake occurs. Make sure to participate in drills at school, work, and in your community.
Protecting Yourself During an Earthquake
Whatever you’re doing or where you are, here are a few standard earthquake safety precautions you should do if you suddenly feel the Earth move under your feet.
Drop, Cover, and Hold On
The most important thing to do during an earthquake is to protect yourself from falling objects. Get down on your hands and knees and take cover under a sturdy table or desk. Hold on to the legs of the table or desk and be prepared to move with it if it moves. If there’s no table or desk nearby, find a corner and curl up in a fetal position, covering your head and neck with your arms.
Stay Away from Windows
Glass windows can break during an earthquake, so stay away from them. If you’re near a window, move to a different part of the room or close the curtains to protect yourself from broken glass.
Avoid Outdoor Areas
Earthquakes can cause buildings, bridges, and power lines to collapse, so avoid being outside during an earthquake. If you’re outside, move to an open area away from buildings and power lines.
Stay Put if you’re Driving
If you’re driving when an earthquake strikes, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid stopping under bridges or overpasses, as these can collapse during an earthquake.
Turn off Gas and Electricity
If you smell gas or see sparks or broken wires, turn off the main switches for gas and electricity. This will help prevent fires and other hazards.
What to do After an Earthquake
- First, assess yourself and others for any injuries and provide appropriate first aid.
- Next, inspect the water, gas, and electric lines for damage. If any are damaged, turn off the valves and look for gas leaks by checking for any odors. If you smell gas, immediately evacuate the area and call for help.
- Tune in to a radio station for updates and information. If it is not a life-threatening emergency, refrain from using the phone.
- Stay clear of damaged structures and watch out for broken glass and debris. Wear sturdy footwear to protect your feet.
- Keep an eye out for falling chimneys and avoid the beach, as tsunamis and aftershocks can occur even after the initial shaking has stopped.
- Stay away from any affected areas and be prepared for the possibility of aftershocks. If you are at work or school, follow the emergency plan and listen to the instructions of the person in charge.
Aside from adopting these earthquake safety precautions, learn the rescue officials’ phone numbers so you know who to call if you need assistance.
An earthquake can be a frightening and dangerous experience, and being prepared for an earthquake can make a significant difference in your safety and well-being. By securing your home, making a family emergency plan, gathering essential supplies, knowing your building’s structure, checking your insurance coverage, planning for your pets, and participating in earthquake drills, you can minimize the risk of injury and damage during an earthquake.
Also by following these tips given above during an earthquake, you can protect yourself and stay safe. Remember to always Drop, Cover, and Hold On, avoid windows and outdoor areas, stay put if you’re driving, turn off gas and electricity, have an earthquake kit, and practice earthquake drills. By being prepared and taking the necessary precautions, you can minimize the risk of injury and damage during an earthquake.