Last week, Metro Manila experienced a magnitude 5 tremor. Just a few days ago, a magnitude 7.8 quake rocked several parts of New Zealand, prompting a tsunami warning.

With our homes located within the Pacific Ring of Fire, we have no choice but to live with earthquakes, but the frequency of relatively light movements doesn't make them any less dangerous. In fact, they should keep you on our toes just in case a big one hits and you're all alone with no one to rely to but yourself.

When you feel a tremor, it is important that you stay calm. Dr. Paul Michael Hernandez, a health and safety consultant, answers common questions that can help you during an earthquake:

1. When I suddenly feel a tremor, what's the first thing I should do?
"If you are nearest the door, open it first. Strong earthquakes may deform the door opening, thus keeping the evacuees from leaving the room. Afterwards, duck, cover, and hold."

2. If I don't have any place to duck under, if there is no table in sight, where should I seek protection?
"Go to the most stable part of the room such as its posts. Also, stay away from things that might fall on you."

3. If the tremors last for almost a minute, what's the safest thing to do?
"Still, duck, cover, and hold. The hold part is very important since strong earthquakes may displace the furniture that is covering you, leaving you exposed to falling objects."

4. When is it safe for me to get out of the house or the building?
"Once the earthquake stops, get out. But still, cover your head with a sturdy object (e.g. bag) or at least with your hands."

5. When I'm on one of the topmost floors of our building, how can I be safe? How can I get out quickly if there's an aftershock?
"There is no hard and fast rule. If you are on the top floors and you think you cannot leave the building immediately, the safest is to go up—especially if the earthquake is a strong one that can destroy the building. The building might crumble down on you if you still rush to the lower floors.

6. If I have companions who get injured or trapped in some areas, what should I do?
"If you cannot assist them by yourself, the best move is to leave them behind and report it to the incident commander. Remember, stay safe first as you might add to the list of victims if you try to be a hero beyond your capabilities. Let those knowledgeable do the rescuing."

For more information and safety tips, check out the PHIVOLCS Awareness and Preparedness Materials on its website.

This story originally appeared on

*Minor edits have been made by editors.

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