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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Surviving An Earthquake

Even the most prepared person may face a natural disaster that tests their survival know-how. You’ve hopefully take steps to have enough food, water and first aid supplies to get you through a period immediately following a disaster, but have you thought about your game plan during the emergency?

I live in earthquake country, although thankfully I’ve been well away from any major earthquakes that have caused serious damage. Our last major shake was last year and it happened while I was at work. Thankfully I knew where to go, but was dismayed to see a bunch of co-workers clinging to a corner right next to the soda machine. Bad move guys. That thing is on wheels. The shaking only lasted a few seconds, but it did shake us all up and we ended up evacuating the building. I’ve since thought about what I would do next time. I don’t want to rely on my desk since it could collapse easily under the weight of things dropping from the ceiling. I know better than to try and run down the steps during the shaking, so the best option for me is to use my chair and desk to create a triangle of life. Sometimes the best option is to be next to a large bulky item that will collapse slightly, but create a void next to it.

This same principal can work at home also. Let’s say you’re sitting on the couch when an earthquake strikes. If you lay on the floor next to the sofa, falling debris will create a void that could protect you from larger items, like the roof. Of course you want to stay away from obviously dangerous items, like glass, mirrors, appliances and tall furniture that could fall and crush you. You should definitely do a walk through your house and envision where these triangle voids will occur - like if a dresser falls towards your bed, there is a void beside the bed, under the dresser. This area will protect you and prevent other, items from hitting you. Don’t get under the bed as it could collapse and crush you under the weight of the roof.

Also think about what you’ll do if in your car during an earthquake. Of course pull off the road, but you want to be aware of what’s above and beside you that could fall on your car. Trees, power lines and buildings could all cause problems. My biggest fear is I’ll be on a highway overpass during a large quake. It’s a scary thought, but unfortunately we can’t predict when an earthquake will happen - just use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings.

Schedule an earthquake drill every three months at your house. Make the kids go through the motions so they’ll know what to do in the middle of the night if you can’t immediately reach them. Make sure your preparations are accessible and won’t be crushed by falling debris. You might even want to consider keeping items in several places in your house in case one area is unreachable.

Learn how to shut off your gas main and your electric main. Prepare for the aftermath because if the big one does hit, you may need to be self-sufficient for a few weeks. Think about your water storage and where it will be most protected. You don’t want to survive to find out all your water is gone, crushed in its plastic bottles. A “triangle of life” could save your preps as well as your life.

The “triangle of life” is a survival method developed by Doug Copp of the American Rescue Team International.


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