What to do, and not do, in an earthquake

Turns out my plan of hauling ass out my front door is a no-no. Some of this is counterintuitive, but it IS based on empiricle facts. So just DO IT!

"If you are inside, stay inside. DO NOT run outside or to other rooms during shaking.

In most situations, you will reduce your chance of injury from falling objects and even building collapse if you immediately:

DROP down onto your hands and knees before the earthquake knocks you down. This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.
COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under the shelter of a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall or next to low-lying furniture that won't fall on you, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.

Drop! Cover! Hold On!

DO NOT stand in a doorway. You are safer under a table. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. The doorway does not protect you from the most likely source of injury−falling or flying objects. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by falling or flying objects (e.g., TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases), or by being knocked to the ground.

You can take other actions, even while an earthquake is happening, that will reduce your chances of being hurt.

If possible within the few seconds before shaking intensifies, quickly move away from glass and hanging objects, and bookcases, china cabinets, or other large furniture that could fall. Watch for falling objects, such as bricks from fireplaces and chimneys, light fixtures, wall hangings, high shelves, and cabinets with doors that could swing open.
If available nearby, grab something to shield your head and face from falling debris and broken glass.
If you are in the kitchen, quickly turn off the stove and take cover at the first sign of shaking.
If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways."====http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/earth...during.asp
The only really big earthquake I've ever been in was the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

It was 5:04 in the afternoon and I was at my desk at work, putting my stuff away and thinking about getting to a sports bar to watch the Giants and the A's in the Bay Bridge world series.

When the shaking started it wasn't very strong and I was actually happy, thinking that an earthquake would add a nice local touch to the world series TV coverage. The shaking was low amplitude and high frequency, a fast jiggling.

Then the frequency went down and the amplitude went up. (I later spoke to a geologist who said that sounded like the resonant frequency of the building.) All hell broke loose. Acoustical tiles were falling from the ceiling, cabinets were falling over and my co-workers were yelling.

Suddenly I was scared. I got up and stood in a doorway. If I had it to do over again, I would get under my desk, which was big, steel and government issue. I remember thinking that I've never felt anything like this.

Suddenly it was over. Nobody was hurt. I tried to call home, but there was no dial tone.

Then one of my bosses appeared and hollered for everyone to get out of the building. So we got out of the building. Stuff was all over the floors, dumped off shelves and desks. The elevators were out of service (a safety precaution, I think, nobody was trapped that I know of) so we took the stairs.

There was broken glass all over the street. (That's why it's uncool to run outside during earthquakes. Stuff falls off buildings.) But now it was over, people were coming out of all the surrounding buildings like ants out of a disturbed ant-hill. Some of us gathered around a parked car to hear what its car radio had to report. Most of the radio stations were off the air, but the few still on were talking excitedly about the Bay Bridge collapsing. I didn't believe it.

Eventually I got home, where there was no damage to speak of. The electricity was even on. My family all checked in and were ok. So we ate and settled down to watch TV. Several TV stations were back up, some on emergency generators. They were all talking about collapsed buildings and deaths, about collapsed freeways and transit shutdowns, about the BART transbay subway being closed and about hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded on the streets. The blimp that was in town for the world series was pressed into duty doing disaster coverage. Al Michaels was doing straight news disaster coverage and was doing it very well.

They were calling for all off duty police, fire and medical personnel to report. And they were calling for elevator mechanics, which didn't sound good.

As the hours went on, there were worries about San Jose, which was closer to the epicenter than SF and Oakland. There were rumors that the city was in flames, but in real life it came through well, without a great deal of damage. It also became apparent that Santa Cruz was cut off, with all the highways leading to it severed by bridge collapses or landslides. Santa Cruz wasn't so lucky and the town's newly restored Victorian downtown was devastated as all the old brick buildings collapsed, killing a bunch of people in the cool cafes and restaurants.

I was told not to return to work for several days, so I hung out in San Francisco where I had gone to school and still had an apartment and friends.

It sounds perverse, but I still remember the earthquake fondly. There was a comraderie that I've never seen, with total strangers talking to one another and helping one another. (9-11 created a similar effect.) San Francisco was pitch black and almost entirely without electricity for several days but there was very little crime. The criminals were all out on the street like everyone else, talking about the quake. Traffic lights were dead, but citizens were out with flashlights helping the over-stretched cops directing traffic. Other people already had little stands selling quake t-shirts! I still remember the Cheers-like San Francisco bar where I was a regular, a surreal scene without any electricity but still selling beer to the light of hundreds of candles like one of those Mexican votive altars to the patron saint of warm beer.

In a weird sort of way it was great.

One of the weird things was how spotty it was. A neighborhood might have no visible damage, the electricity would be on and the stores open. You wouldn't know an earthquake had even happened. The area around my family's house was like that. Another neighborhood might be building collapses and fires. And in between were big areas with no electicity, cracks in the walls but where buildings were still structurally sound and habitable. My SF neighborhood was like that. It all depended on whether the neighborhood was built on bedrock or on land-fill. The low-damage areas are on solid rock and often on hills, the big-damage areas on soft-soils often near the bay. That variable was even more important than distance from the epicenter. Building construction is another important variable. Older buildings don't do as well as modern buildings built to earthquake codes. The codes really do work and are important. Brick buildings, even fake brick facades on otherwise solid buildings, tend to collapse. A collapsing brick wall will be no fun for pedestrians or parked cars next to it. The high-rise office towers came through very well.

After the quake, every building was inspected and got a green, yellow or red tag that it had to display at the front door. The green tag meant the building was fine, yellow meant it was habitable but needed repairs, and red meant hazardous do not enter. I remember seeing lots of red tags in some neighborhoods.

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)