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What to do in an earthquake

Postby Steph » Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:42 am

Since the earthquake and more devastating tsunami that has resulted, there has been a lot of talk about taking appropriate preventative measures and being prepared for an earthquake and tsunami. However, in most cases the focus has been on what to do after the earthquake so as not to repeat the loss of life suffered in the tsunami due to the many factors already discussed on this forum and elsewhere. However, my question is: What do we do during an earthquake?

Many places I have researched mention applying the plan "Francisca Cooper" (named for a young chilean woman who died in the tsunami in indonesia), though I think even this actually refers to preventative measures regarding a tsunami, but I cannot confirm because all I have found is a mention of the plan, not what the actual plan is. of course.

My main question is - what's the thinking - duck and cover, or triangle of life?

Triangle of life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_of_life) makes sense to me (as explained here) but ONEMI seems to be recommending duck and cover (http://www.onemi.cl/Quehaceren.html). Given that I have 3 kids at school, I really would like to know what the current thinking is, and make sure my kids' school is implementing the right, safest procedure.

As I see it - triangle of life is deemed to be more applicable in a situation where the building could possibly collapse. But, if the building is sturdy and you can get under some sturdy furniture then you are protected from smaller (but potentially fatal) falling objects. Question is - how can I be sure the building won't collapse??? Recent evidence shows that Chilean building codes are excellent in this regard, except when they aren't. :?

Any thoughts? Please chime in...

Home schooling is looking good :D
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby Rook » Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:37 am

the big earthquakes seem to hit chile every 15-20 years, so your kids should be adults by the next earthquake, so no need for home schooling
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby j. Ro » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:07 am

Get to the yard... a building can not collapse and crush you if you aren't inside it.
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby griffin » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:09 am

Use your common sense first when looking at the school building(s), especially where your children will spend most of their time. Is there more than one story? Is the roof made of a heavy material like tile? If not, chances of deadly collapse are pretty low. Go with duck and cover.

If yes, talk to the school officials about the construction standards. If their answers are unsatisfying, you might be able to get a copy of the building plans and find a structural engineer to look at them (I'm sure other parents would be interested too).

Finally, you could teach your kids that when the shaking is really strong and goes on for more than about ten to twenty seconds (collapse is very unlikely to happen immediately), or if they hear a big noise that could be the roof coming down, they should be ready to scoot out right next to their desk. Duck and cover first, evaluate the situation, then decide which is safest.

Something the parents' group at our school is looking into, is some kind of plastic film to put on the classroom windows, so that if they break in an earthquake, they at least won't cover the floor in bits of sharp broken glass.
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby Tombi » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:33 am

The Triangle of Life is very controversial (and only real one vocal person's opinion, mainly based on anecdotal "evidence") and not recommended by most search & rescue operations (American Red Cross & Federal Emergency Management Agency advises against it). Snopes.com and Wiki have pages on this...

Duck and cover is the generally recommended response in an earthquake.
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby admin » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:57 am

The most important thing you can do is teach your kids to think for themselves. Teach them how to handle themselves in a variety of situations, and have confidence in their ability to make decisions under pressure. It is impossible to train the kids for every individual 'just so' situation. They need to be able to think critically and quickly take action. They also need to understand that a traumatized adult, may not be making the best decisions in an emergency. Unfortunately most of those abilities come through experience. If you lock your kid in a closet and never let them venture out on their own to take risks, they will never learn those basic crisis management skills.

I think there are few ways to do that, that involve teaching controlled risk taking. For example, I always found rock climbing with top ropes and harnesses to be a good way. It is a relatively safe way for kids to learn that sometimes no one can help you, and you just have to push through. It also has a way of creating focus. The fear of falling, even when injury or death is not a real possibility, tends keep your attention.

I am sure there are many other safe ways to do it, but the point is your kids need to be able to think. You can not prepare them for all the dangers in the World, because no one can possibly know all of them.
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby eeuunikkeiexpat » Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:11 am

Really depends.

I would not trust what anyone says about a structure as any past damage can be covered up and painted over (I've already seen this done in my area).

Stairwells may be one of the first collapsing structures in a multistory building.

More on stairwells: remember the final victim of the new apartment high rise that fell over in Concepcion, where the great majority survived and climbed out or were pulled out of their overturned apartments, died in the stairwell near the first floor after fleeing his 8th floor apartment.

I have noticed damage underneath the final set of stairs of this apartment to the ground floor and near the doorway that extends all the way to the top floors. In another big shake, that may not be my exit and I may indeed exit via the balcony to the grass below my second floor apartment. Need to add rope to my survival supplies.
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby admin » Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:34 am

As far as what to do to prepare, move to a wood structure. No one died in this earthquake that was inside a wood structure, at least that I have heard about. In the largest earthquakes in modern history, only a handful of people have died in wood structures. Most that died in those where when the soil under the foundation gave way not the building itself, such as when the building was on a hill like those in California. Wood is your super earthquake friend.
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby otravers » Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:54 pm

First off, the debunking from Snopes/Wikipedia/US Red Cross sounds a bit smug. We'll see how good anti-seismic American construction is when there's an 8+ earthquake in CONUS outside of Alaska. Flattened buildings can't happen in the US, just like Katrina flooding New Orleans couldn't happen I guess. FEMA - LOL. American institutions sure like to listen to themselves talking. We'll see in due time how good they really are.
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/ ... argest.php

Between duck and cover in a car and crouch next to a car, given what a car in a crashed building looks like, I'll go for triangle of life. [Edit: obviously I won't do that if other cars are driving around, Earthquakecountry.info for instance has advice that assumes you're an idiot]

At home we've taken steps to reduce the number of stuff that can drop and fly from above. That goes from our kitchen storage design (most of our cabinets are at under-counter level) to drawer opening mechanisms to where we locate glass containers and the like. We've bought construction helmets. We'll look at other small things that might help such as anchoring the LCD TV with a Kensington cable. We have friends whose stuff really flew around so how/where you store stuff has a lot to do with whether you need to take cover from what.
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby admin » Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:27 pm

Jumbo sells these double sided sticky tapes. There is one brand that will hold something vertically to a wall up to like 100 kilos+. Stick some of those to the bottom of nick nacks and so on.

The biggest damage in our office was caused when a book shelf fell over on to a glass table top with sufficient force to crack the wood under it. Had that hit a person, it would have definitely sent them to the hospital. In this case it was about 50,000 pesos in damage because the quake hit at 3 in the morning. Our monitors also went over the sides of the desks. Flat panel monitors are top heavy. They bounced around on the ends of their cables, rather than smashing on the floor. Had they had sticky stuff on the foot, they might have just moved around with the desks.
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby Laura55llc » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:16 pm

The sticky tape is a very good idea.

Just FYI, our brick and cement house with a strong foundation and cement floor, heavy rebar throughout, suffered not at all. Dishes didn't even fall out of the cupboards. Heavy shaking and I was terrified. Books fell out of the bookcase(but all paperbacks lol)-but the bookcase didn't even tip over. One room with a wood floor had all furniture fall over etc.

Roof trusses are wood with regular tile. Made me glad we didn't have the heavier, old fashioned type which we deemed too expensive :D
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Re: What to do in an earthquake

Postby eeuunikkeiexpat » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:27 pm

Interesting interview with a seismologist today in the online rag known as The Santiago Times.

She said the largest aftershock is usually 1 point below the size of the original quake which means a 7.8ish quake is still in the cards for us.
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