How can I protect myself in an earthquake

GisborneGround vibrations during an earthquake are seldom the direct cause of death or injury.

Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths result from collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass, and falling objects. It is extremely important for a person to move as little as possible to reach the place of safety he or she has identified, because most injuries occur when people try to move more than a short distance during the shaking.

Much of the damage caused by earthquakes is predictable and preventable. We must all work together in our communities to apply our knowledge to enact and enforce up-to-date building codes, retrofit older unsafe buildings, and avoid building in hazardous areas, such as those prone to landslides.

We must also look for and eliminate hazards at home, at our children’s preschools and schools, and in our workplaces. And we must learn and practice what to do if an earthquake occurs.

If you are at risk from earthquakes, you should:

Discuss with members of your household the possibility of earthquakes and what to do to stay safe if one occurs. Knowing how to respond will help reduce fear.

Develop an emergency plan in your family (for all hazards) in case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake, such as during the day when adults are at work and children at school. Have a plan for getting back together.

Safe places

Pick safe places in each room of your home and your office or school.

A safe place could be under a piece of furniture, such as a sturdy table or desk, or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you. The shorter the distance to your safe place, the less likely it is that you will be injured by furniture or fixtures that can become flying debris during the shaking.

Injury statistics show that persons moving as little as three metres during an earthquake’s shaking are more likely to experience injury than those who don’t move that far.

Practice drop, cover, and hold in each safe place. Drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, and hold on to a leg of the furniture.

If suitable furniture is not nearby, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms. Responding quickly in an earthquake may help protect you from injury.

Drop, cover and hold

Practice drop, cover, and hold on at least twice a year.

Keep a torch and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.

Talk to your local Civil Defence to identify safe outdoor assembly areas in your neighbourhood.

Inform guests, babysitters, and caregivers of earthquake plans. Everyone in your home should know what to do if an earthquake occurs, even if you are not there at the time.


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