How to behave in case of an earthquake

A paper providing guidance on behaving in case of an earthquake.

Okay, I don’t want to sound malicious or try to scare you, but experiencing a stronger earthquake is possible. Of course, no one thinks about it in advance. For example, in my city, a significant earthquake has not occurred for more than 100 years. And then one Sunday morning everything changed. 5.5 degrees per Richter was quite enough to demolish much of the old town and damage numerous buildings. And after that, you never look at an earthquake with the same eyes again, trust me. So what is best to do if that happens?

Two pictures showing the aftermath of a devastating earthquake on a street littered with rubble.
Tiles and chimneys will most often fall from roofs during earthquakes

Your home

Be sure to live in a safe home. It may seem like an exaggeration to you, but inviting a structural engineer to check the safety of your building is not a crazy idea. For example, some buildings in many cities that are very old do not have a concrete structure. This makes them extremely sensitive to earthquakes. Concrete is an essential component of earthquake protection. If you live in newer construction, you probably don’t even need to think about it. But if you are a lover of older buildings and want an apartment in the old town, you could have this problem, especially since most apartment renovations do not deal with statics but with interior design. There is also the problem of long-term adjustments to apartments. Many tenants have been altering their homes. Many of them have demolished partition walls in their flats, and all this results in more inferior construction. Therefore, if you live in an older building, invite an expert to make an assessment for you.

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A large pile of rubble appears in the middle of a street after an earthquake.
It is especially dangerous to be near older buildings whose structures are weakened

Don’t move

When the earthquake actually hits, try to find a shelter if there is one nearby but by no means leave the building or go on the stairs at that moment. Those few seconds as long as the quake lasts stay in one place. Only when the tremor subsides take the essential things and get out of the building. Namely, during an earthquake, there is a high chance that the staircase will collapse, or the chimney will fall from the roof. You don’t want to be exposed to that risk at that point. Only when you make sure it is safe, then leave the facility.

A street full of rubble and debris after the earthquake in Italy, behaving in case of earthquake.
Be sure to move away from the apartment when the quake is over and wait to see if a stronger quake will follow

Stay outside

It is not uncommon for one major earthquake to be followed by a new one that is stronger in a couple of hours or the next day. The safest would be to leave town at that point and go to a safer place on day two while the danger lasts. But if you can’t, it’s advisable to sit in the car and go to a flatter clean area with no buildings nearby. Tremors of lesser intensity are typical in the coming weeks, and you don’t need to worry about that. Subsequent shaking of the soil may last for another month or longer until the tectonic plates settle.

That’s it, more or less it. There is no method by which an earthquake can be predicted regardless of advances in technology. You can only take certain measures to make your home safe if it happens.

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