After every earthquake, anywhere on the planet, we are flooded with information about how to react, what are the rules in this situation and this is why we all know them. Fortunately, this natural disaster does not happen very often, but panic caused when it happens, can lead to more harm then the earthquake itself.
In fact, panic has killed far more people than earthquakes themselves. Panic is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear, which reached its peak in a few minutes and is accompanied by a variety of symptoms – rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dumbness, numbness in hands and feet, nausea, dizziness and others. With these symptoms there is no way we can escape from danger threatening us – a natural disaster like an earthquake.
In order not to fall into such a state of panic, it is importnat to be very knowledgeable and prepared, to accept the possibility that earthquake can strike anytime and they way we response to it will determine whether we will survive it or not.
Our planet is a living organism and earth layers were and always will keep moving. The difference is in frequency and intensity. Unfortunately, history shows that in areas where earthquakes happen with greater frequency and intensity there are fewer casualties than in those they happen rarely. The reason is in the unpreparedness and surprise of the population, accompanied by a huge panic. Panic that sometimes leads to jumping from windows on high floors, inappropriate behavior and even heart attacks.
What you need to know about earthquakes?
The quake is a natural release of stored energy due to deformation of the earth layers. This causes shaking of the earth’s crust and the point in the crust, where the process begins is called hypocenter, the point on the earth’s surface over the hypocenter is called the epicenter.
The strength of an earthquake is assessed by two different criteria: magnitude and seismic intensity.
The magnitude is determined by the 9 – point scale of Richter and assess the energy source of an earthquake.
Seismic intensity is determined by a 12 – point scale of Medvedev – Shponhoer – Karnik / MIBK / and assess the effects of the earthquake. It has application mostly in construction.
Each earthquake that swings the Earth due to the shifting of the earth layers and leads to weaker secondary waves indicate that the layers are adjusting. They have taken the new position and the danger passes. We should always be prepared and know how to react in such a situation. Most importantly once we have been informed about earthquake and we have accepted that they are part of nature, we should remain calm. It’s nice to know which are the bearing walls in our home and it is not desirable to hold heavy objects placed high, where they can easily fall and cause harm. It is best if each family member has his own place, where he will stand during earthquake. So even if someone panic, others will master the situation.
During the first earthquake, everyone must stand on its safe place and in no case should run out until the quake stops. Down stairs or boarding an elevator during the earthquake itself may prove to be disastrous.
Safe places can be: door frame / especially if it is a bearing wall / resistant table, desk or other strong furniture.
After the first quake stops, you should turn off all appliances, stop the water, take the most necessary things, which should be prepared in advance for such cases and leave the building. Outside it is important to stand at a distance from the building, greater than its height. Standing close to the building, talking with neighbors is meaningless. Do not go back home until you are sure that the danger has passed. There are always secondary quakes after the first earthquake, sometimes they last hours, wait for them to pass.
If you’re on the street during the earthquake, stay away from buildings. And if you are driving, stop the car and get out of it. If you happen to be in the tram or trolley bus, the driver should reduce slowly until it stops, and passengers must go out after the quake ended.
The better we are prepared, mentally and with knowledge, the less likely we will fall into uncontrollable panic that could be harmful to us, and often to people close to us.
Forecasts for heavy and destructive earthquakes should not frighten us, because noone can actually predict an earthquake. Forecasts are mostly speculation and attempts to drive attention. We should always be prepared and react the best possible way. Panic is always a very bad advisor!