Monday, February 8, 2010

What To Do In An Earthquake: Drop, Cover & Hold On!

The last western Washington earthquake I was in, I stood from behind my desk and walked over to stand in the doorway. I'd been taught that doorways offer structural protection from falling buildings. Since then, I've learned that many people have lost their fingers doing it (when the Earth's rumblings forced the door to slam shut). That being stated -- we are receiving more data all the time about what best to do during times of disaster, such as earthquake. 


  • most injuries in U.S. earthquakes occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave. The Red Cross strongly advises against moving (that is, attempting to escape) during the shaking of an earthquake. 
  • The more movement and the longer the distance that a person tries to go, the more likely they are to become injured by falling or flying debris, or by tripping, falling, or getting cut by damaged floors, walls, and items in the path of escape. Most earthquake injuries in the United States are from falling/flying objects not from structure collapses! 
  • Earthquake experts further suggest quickly seeking a place of safety, such as under a sturdy table or desk, and moving as short a distance as possible to that place of safety. Because the research continues to demonstrate that – in the U.S. – “Drop, Cover and Hold On!” works, the American Red Cross continues to back this recommendation. It is the most reliable and easiest method to teach people, including children.

 * The above advice is given for the United States (based on the severity of earthquakes that have happened here historically, and based on the building structures we have in this country). It is NOT advice for people living in Haiti, for example, where low income means buildings are not always built to code and were not designed to withstand large earthquakes. So if you are visiting there (SunTIger says, and this is NOT official Red Cross info) you may want to carefully step just outside to stand in a parking lot where nothing can fall on you!

POINT IS: THINK AHEAD! Consider what structure in your home and office (including your child's school) would be safest place to be during an earthquake. You do NOT want to walk far to get to that location. Sometimes standing inside a closet might be the safest place (reinforced area with no windows -- providing the closet has no glass doors). 

Be safe. Be well! Be prepared!

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