‘Twas a usual Monday night. I was out in the hallway chatting with my floor mates — anything to distract me from the pile of homework I had waiting for me back in my room. Suddenly, amidst the chatter, we felt the floor we were sitting on slightly shake and by the time we registered what was happening, it stopped. If you haven’t already realized what I’m talking about, it’s the 4.5 magnitude earthquake that East Bay residents, including those in Berkeley, experienced last Monday at around 10:30 p.m.
As the tremors began, I remember feeling exhilarated at the realization that it was my first earthquake. The tremors ceased just as unexpectedly as they had come. During the next few seconds, I saw the majority of my hallway pour out of their rooms and murmurs of “What’s going on?”, “Did you feel that?!”, “Should we evacuate?” and “What about aftershocks?” erupted. Most of us, including me, were at a loss for what we should do next.
Last week’s earthquake had no casualties and left most people unperturbed. However, what about stronger earthquakes where every jerk moves the floor or ground under your feet? Should you evacuate during an earthquake? What are the strategies or techniques you must employ to keep yourself safe? What if you’re in bed? What if you’re outside? Not to worry, the Clog has answers!
Drop, cover, hold on!
This method is strongly recommended by official rescue teams and preparedness experts as one of the safest ways to protect yourself during an earthquake when you are indoors.
Drop to the ground onto your knees immediately as the shaking starts. With one arm, cover your head and neck and crawl towards the nearest desk or table for shelter. In the situation where such furniture/shelter is unavailable, crawl to a wall away from windows. With your other arm, hold on to the leg of the table or desk. In case that there is no furniture/shelter, cover your head and neck with both arms. Expect to move with your shelter. If you’re in bed, protect your head and neck with your pillows and remain in place while lying face down.
In California, with most of the buildings constructed with strict building codes, there’s a very low chance of structural collapse. Thus, avoid running out during violent shaking. In fact, a sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries during an earthquake. Moreover, there have been many success stories of people remaining untouched under desks or tables despite strong shaking.
If you’re in a vehicle
Stop your vehicle in a place away from buildings, trees, poles, signs or power lines. Stay in the vehicle until the shaking ceases.
If you’re outdoors
Move away from buildings, signs, poles, overhead lines or anything that could potentially fall on you. Practice the drop and cover methods.
Prepare an earthquake kit
This may be one of the most important ways to prepare even before the earthquake hits. Your kit can include a combination of water to last a few days, packaged and canned food, a flashlight and first aid supplies!
We hope that you feel more prepared now and do not have any more misconceptions about what to do during an earthquake. Stay safe Bears!
Contact Nandita Radhakrishnan at [email protected].