During an earthquake, the ground
moves like waves on the ocean. The actual movement of the ground, however, is
seldom the cause of injury or death. Most injuries and deaths are caused by the
collapse of structures. Injuries are commonly caused by:
Structures collapsing, falling
blocks, walls, poles, roofs, ceiling plaster, light fixtures and pictures
Flying glass from broken windows
Overturned bookcases, wall units,
filing cabinets, and other heavy furniture
Fires from ruptured gas and broken
electrical lines (this danger may be aggravated by a lack of water due to
broken water mains)
Fallen power lines
Although earthquakes strike without
warning, there are many actions that can be taken to reduce their impact. It is
important that some of these precautions be taken before an
Before An Earthquake
Ensure your building meets the
requirements of the building code. This will help make it earthquake resistant.
You can mitigate non-structural
hazards in your building:
Bolt down water heaters and gas
Place large and heavy objects on
Securely fasten shelves, heavy
furniture and filing cabinets to walls; computers should be attached to
Bottles, glass, china, and other
breakables should be stored locked cabinets; all cabinets should be kept
Overhead lighting fixtures, such as
chandeliers and other suspended lighting, should be securely anchored and
Know where and how to shut off
electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves.
Practise earthquake drills
regularly, so you know what to do in an earthquake.
Have on hand:
Flashlights and battery-operated
radios in case power is cut off
Fire extinguishers First Aid kit
Emergency supplies of food and
During an earthquake
calm — think through the consequences of any
action you take.
If you are inside, stay inside.
Take cover under a heavy desk, table, bench, in a reinforced doorway, or a
corner. Evacuate by stairway when the shaking stops. Never use elevators to
evacuate after an earthquake.
If you are outdoors, stay outdoors.
During earthquakes, many injuries occur as people are entering or leaving buildings.
Move away from buildings, utility wires, glass, hanging signs and other objects
which may fall and cause injury. Get to an open space and stay there until the
After an earthquake
Evacuate the building in an orderly
manner as soon as the shaking stops.
Do a head count to ascertain if
anyone is missing; report missing persons to the emergency services.
Never re-enter a building after an
earthquake until you are informed to do so by the authorities.
Do not attempt to move seriously
injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Moving
them could make some injuries worse.
Check for fires or fire hazards.
Report damage to the appropriate
utility companies. Never turn on electrical switches until you are informed
that it is safe to do so.
Never use matches, lighters, or any
open flame until you are advised that no gas leak exists.
Ensure that sewage lines are intact
before flushing toilets.
Do not use your telephone except
for genuine emergency calls.
Listen to the radio for damage
reports and other information.
If you are on the coast, move
inland or to higher ground in case there is a tsunami.
Do not go sightseeing. Keep the
street clear for emergency vehicles.
Be prepared for additional
earthquake shocks called ‘aftershocks’. Although most of these are smaller than
the main shock, some may be large enough to cause additional damage and damaged
buildings to collapse.