|Image source: shakeout.org|
What to Do When an Earthquake StartsAccording to the Southern California Earthquake Center, the best thing to do when an earthquake starts is:
1. Drop to the ground (before the earthquake knocks you off your feet). Do not try to move!
2. Cover your head and neck with your arms, and duck under a sturdy table if nearby. They say that with modern building design, you are more likely to be injured by falling debris, such as lamps or books, than by a collapsed building, which is why a desk or table is helpful.
3. Hold onto your shelter (desk/table) and be prepared to move with it until shaking stops.
Earthquake Safety MythsOn its website, the Center also dispels some common myths about earthquake safety:
Myth #1: You should go to a door frame, because door frames are the strongest part of the house.
Although images of earthquakes from 50 years ago may show standing door frames, the Southern California Earthquake Center says that door frames are not stronger than other parts of a building in modern building design. Furthermore, a doorframe will not protect you from falling debris off a shelf or cabinet, which is the greatest risk during an earthquake.
Myth #2: You should try to run outside.
Many earthquakes do not last long enough for you to get outside, and perhaps more importantly, they may knock you off your feet or cause falling debris to hit you on the way. Furthermore, you may be hit by bricks or shingles off buildings if standing near a structure outside. The Center suggests it is better to drop, cover, and hold on where you are.
Myth #3: It is better to stay next to a table than to get under it (as perpetuated by chain emails circulating about the "triangle of life.")
The Southern California Earthquake Center says that this myth is based on multiple false assumptions, including the false beliefs that falling buildings are your primary threat during an earthquake, that buildings that do fall crush all furniture, and that you will be able to anticipate how a building might collapse if it does. According to the Center, while collapsed buildings get a lot of attention in headlines, this is much less likely to happen with modern building design. On the other hand, falling debris, bookshelves, and other items are much more likely to harm you and should be your main concern. This is why they recommend getting under a desk, rather than next to it.
For more information on earthquake safety in a variety of situations, check out their website or this helpful two-page handout!
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