A report from the BBC says that the tremor was “strong enough to shake buildings in Tokyo, 265 kilometers to the south” of the center of the quake. And although the tsunami warning has been lifted, the strength of this new quake is enough to rattle the confidence of residents in the affected areas. A video from the Associated Press’s YouTube page shows footage of Miyagi Prefecture slowly going dark as electricity was cut off during the tremor.
Here are useful safety guidelines from Renato U. Solidum Jr., director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), and Ishmael Narag, supervising science research specialist of Phivolcs’s Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division. Their top tip: stay calm. You can do more for everyone concerned with presence of mind.
BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE:
1. Develop a family disaster plan. Establish meeting places during emergencies; work out a communication plan; and assemble survival kits (with first-aid supplies and special medicines, tools and ropes, canned food and can opener, water and purification tablets, sealed matchsticks, battery-operated radio, flashlights, extra batteries, and garbage bags) at home and at work.
2. Orient the kids. Remind schoolchildren not to panic. Instead, they should cautiously move to safe spots within the room (e.g. under a sturdy table) while avoiding danger zones (e.g. glass windows and hanging objects), and do the “duck, cover, and hold” technique to protect their heads. When it reaches tolerable levels, they should go to a designated open area on the school grounds.
3. Protect property. Check the structural integrity of your house or building. Bolt heavy furniture to the floor, and check the stability of hanging objects. Every responsible member of the family should know where the main electrical switch and gas valve are located. These should be shut in the event of an earthquake to avoid fires.
DURING AN EARTHQUAKE:
1. If you are inside a structurally sound building or home, stay there. Quickly open the door to keep the exit point accessible.
2. If you are outside, move to an open area. Stay away from trees, power lines, posts, and concrete structures. Move away from steep slopes that may be affected by landslides. Near the shoreline? Move quickly to higher ground as tsunamis might follow.
3. If you’re driving, stop and get out of the car. Do not attempt to cross bridges or flyovers that may have been damaged.
AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE:
1. Check that you’re free of injuries. Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and work gloves to protect you from further danger.
2. Check your surroundings. Look for and extinguish small fires. Clean up spilled medicines, bleachers, gasoline, or other flammable liquids immediately. Avoid using elevators and telephones.
3. Inspect your home for damage. Open closet and cabinet doors cautiously. If it looks unsafe, get everyone out.
Read this article for more earthquake safety tips:
- How to Prepare Your Home against Earthquakes
- Earthquake Safety: “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” or Triangle of Life”
- How to Practice Earthquake Safety in the Workplace
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(First published in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Home 101 section as “Earthquake!” on March 2005; adapted for use in Female Network. Screencap courtesy of AssociatedPress on YouTube.)
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