The key to surviving an earthquake, should you be unfortunate enough to experience one, is to some very basic rules & procedures. During everyday normal living, your environment is already established for risk-avoidance & accident prevention. During an earthquake, that can change instantly. The most innocent looking installations can become unstable & cause accidents or fatality. A falling light, a live wire contacting a wet floor and so on.
The following guide should help you prepare for & improve your survival chances here in Romania. Although you think it will never happen to you, below is a chart showing the global frequency of earthquakes.
Before the event
- Bolt and brace water heaters, air conditioners, heavy wall clocks or signs and gas appliances to wall studs.
- Get a professional install to flexible fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
- Do not hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, near desks, beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
- Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
- Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
- Place large and heavy objects and breakable items (bottled foods, glass or china) on lower shelves.
- Anchor overhead lighting fixtures to structural joists.
- Anchor top-heavy, tall and freestanding furniture such as bookcases, china cabinets to wall studs to keep these from toppling over.
- Ask about home repair and strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.
- Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
- Have a professional make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation, as well as strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.
During an earthquake
Staying Safe Indoors
- Drop down, take cover and HOLD ON to your cover!
- Move as little as possible – most injuries during earthquakes occur because of people moving around, falling and suffering sprains, fractures and head injuries.
- Try to protect your head and torso.
- If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on, and cover your head from falling debris/light fittings.
- Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.
- If you must leave a building after the shaking stops, use stairs rather than an elevator in case of aftershocks, power cuts or other damage.
- Be aware that smoke alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.
- If you smell gas, get out of the house and move as far away as possible.
- Before you leave any building check to make sure that there is no debris from the building that could fall on you.
Staying Safe Outdoors
- Find a clear spot, drop to the ground, remain until the shaking stops.
- Try to get as far away from buildings, power lines, trees, and streetlights as possible.
- If you’re in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location, away from telegraph poles etc and stop.
- Apply handbrake & leave the car in gear to prevent rolling into trouble.
- Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible.
- Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.
- After the shaking has stopped, drive on carefully, avoiding bridges, elevated roads and ramps that may have been damaged.
- If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.
- If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks, land or mud slides and other debris.
Staying Safe After an Earthquake
- If away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Check yourself for injuries and get first aid, if necessary, before helping injured or trapped persons. Do not absorb vital medical resources for minor issues as emergency services will be over-capacity
- After an earthquake, the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami if you live on a coastal area of Romania.
- Each time you feel an aftershock, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
- Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake.
- Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.