Earthquake injury and death occur due to blunt force trauma coming from toppling buildings, landslides, and falling debris. Earthquake can even be dangerous if you are out in open water, as seismic activity on the ocean floor can create tsunamis, reaching speeds of up to 500 km/h, causing massive devastation in their path. If you live in an area with pools of groundwater, then liquefaction can occur, causing infrastructures to sink into the earth several feet until the earthquake passes and the groundwater settles.
To survive an earthquake, it is important that certain misconceptions and myths are demystified.
There is no such thing as "earthquake weather." There is a misconception that earthquakes only occur in places that are hot and dry. This is a misconception that goes back all the way to ancient Greece. Earthquakes take place miles underground, independent of weather.
Hollywood's conception of earthquakes is wrong. When an earthquake occurs in a Hollywood movie, the ground opens up, swallowing people. Earthquakes cause settling and other ground deformations, but the ground doesn't simply open up, swallow whatever is in its path, and then close.
Do You Live In An Area Where Earthquakes Occur? Preparation
Preparation is key to survival. It's important to start by knowing if you reside in an earthquake zone. These are places with oddly active seismographic movement, which are typically the bands that surround crustal plates. The epicenter of many earthquakes goes along the mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Pacific Plate Ring of Fire. But it is important to note that earthquakes can occur anywhere where tectonic plates meet.
When it comes to earthquake activity, certain zones are more susceptible than others. This includes Alaska, which is hit with a magnitude seven earthquake on an almost yearly basis. In the 29 year window between 1974 and 2003, Alaska was hit with more than a 12,000 earthquakes, accounting for over half of the nation's earthquake that is registered as 3.5 magnitudes or higher on the Richter scale. California is another state that is a severe earthquake hazard due to it being on the San Andreas fault. Oregon and Washington state are in the way of any earthquakes that occur in the Cascadia subduction zone, just 50 miles offshore of Oregon.
Surviving An Earthquake
1. If you live along a fault line, prepare a survival kit. An earthquake survival kit will ensure that you are safe and able to survive until paramedics can get to you. The survival kit should be supplemented with an evacuation plan for your family and colleagues, a list of your household inventory, and copies of important documents like medical information, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and insurance policies in a waterproof bag or container.
2. Get under a sturdy table during an active earthquake. Drop under a sturdy piece of furniture and cover your head and torso as much as you can. If you are not able to get underneath a table, then move to an inside wall or sturdy archway and crouch with your back to the wall. Stay away from windows and refrain from exiting the building when it is shaking since there is a real danger of a tall structure falling on you.
3. If you happen to be outdoors, quickly move to an open area that is away from tall structures. If driving, get away from bridges and overpasses.
What To Do Immediately After An Earthquake
Aftershocks are smaller than the main shock, and they may continue for a couple of minutes or hours. Generally speaking, the larger the main shock, the more numerous the aftershocks and the longer they will continue.
Count to 60 to allow time for any objects to fall before moving. Move cautiously since the earthquake has undermined the structural integrity of all surrounding infrastructures. If there are any gas leaks, shut off the main valves. If you hear or smell gas and you aren't able to shut it off, report it to the authorities immediately.