Earthquakes are caused as a result of ruptures within the earth. Plates of land move at a very slow pace under the surface, but when they collide with each other with great force, massive amounts of energy are released, resulting in quakes. Now many of us do not anticipate such occurrences on a daily basis, which is why we are not always prepared. India is no Japan, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Safety tips for earthquakes
If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, it might be worthwhile to find out if your home can last the rigors of an earthquake. We suggest these tips.
Get in touch with a professional to understand how to make your home stronger. Examples of these can be getting strong latches for cupboards, strapping water heaters to wall studs, and bolting bookcases to nails on the wall.
- Search on the Internet for an earthquake readiness plan and customize it as per your house.
- Locate a place inside a house which you can go to during an earthquake, where nothing has a chance of falling. This is only if there is very less time to move out and walk down the stairs.
- Ensure that you do not use the lift in the event of an earthquake.
- Keep a first-aid kit, 3-4 litres of water per person and dust masks, as well as flashlights and a battery-operated radio, if you have to stay outside for an extended duration of time. Putting together a handy emergency kit with water, first aid, non-perishable food, flashlight, power supplies such as battery operated lights, a stove and extra batteries will be great. In case you have pets, keep adequate supplies for them as well.
- Make sure that you know how to turn off the water mains and gas supply.
When catastrophe strikes
Preparation is one thing, but following through on our plans is another. It’s easy to panic in the event of an earthquake. While that panic can stimulate our flight or fight response, it can also cause us to be blinded in the eventuality of an earthquake. Follow these tips once you feel the beginning of an earthquake:
- Remain low. Get down under a table and hold on.
- Be away from bookcases or furniture that are likely to collapse on you.
- Maintain a safe distance from windows. In high rise buildings, sprinklers and fire alarms are likely to go off in such a situation.
- In case you happen to be in bed, hold a pillow over your head and remain there.
- If outside, find a clear spot away from trees, buildings and power lines. Drop to the ground.
- If in a car, slow down and reach an open space. Remain in the car until shaking ceases.
Dropping down, getting up, and taking cover must be practiced among all family members. It is the most common and effective method of protecting oneself and others during a quake.
After the earthquake
Make sure that you are prepared for aftershocks. These are further shocks after the main quakes and can last up to several days. Check for damaged electrical wiring and also for possible leaks in gas. If you document the damage, you may be able to obtain a claim from your insurance company.