Effects of Earthquakes

Ground shaking leads to landslides and other soil movement. These are the main damage-causing events that occur during an earthquake. Primary effects that can accompany an earthquake include property damage, loss of lives, fire, and tsunami waves. Secondary effects, such as economic loss, disease, and lack of food and clean water, also can occur after a large earthquake.

Another post-earthquake threat is fire and the amount of damage caused by post-earthquake fire depends on the types of building materials used, whether water lines are intact, and whether natural gas mains have been broken. Ruptured gas mains may lead to numerous fires, and firefighting cannot be effective if the water mains are not intact to transport water to the fires. Catastrophic earthquakes can create a risk of widespread disease outbreaks, especially in underdeveloped countries. Damage to water supply lines, sewage lines, and hospital facilities as well as lack of housing may lead to conditions that contribute to the spread of contagious diseases, such as influenza (the flu) and other viral infections. In some instances, lack of food supplies, clean water can create serious health problems as well.
Earthquakes cannot be prevented, but the damage they cause can be greatly reduced with communication strategies, proper structural design, emergency preparedness planning, education, and safer building standards. In response to the tragic loss of life and great cost of rebuilding after past earthquakes, many countries have established earthquake safety and regulatory agencies. These agencies require codes for engineers to use in order to regulate development and construction. Buildings built according to these codes survive earthquakes better and ensure that earthquake risk is reduced.
Tsunami early warning systems can prevent some damage because tsunami waves travel at a very slow speed. Seismologists immediately send out a warning when evidence of a large undersea earthquake appears on seismographs. Tsunami waves travel slower than seismic P and S wavesin the open ocean, they move about ten times slower than the speed of seismic waves in the rocks below. This gives seismologists time to issue tsunami alerts so that people at risk can evacuate the coastal area as a preventative measure to reduce related injuries or deaths.
Engineers minimize earthquake damage to buildings by using flexible, reinforced materials that can withstand shaking in buildings. Currently scientists and engineers have greatly improved earthquake-resistant designs for buildings that are compatible with modern architecture and building materials. They use computer models to predict the response of the building to ground shaking patterns and compare these patterns to actual seismic events. They also analyze computer models of the motions of buildings in the most hazardous earthquake zones to predict possible damage and to suggest what reinforcement is needed.
An earthquake can be a terrifying and dangerous event. Proper safety precautions such as education, emergency planning, and constructing stronger, more flexible, safely designed structures, can limit the loss of life and decrease the damage caused by earthquakes, you can help limit that terror through careful planning and organization. Hold occasional earthquake drills so your family or workers knows exactly what they should do in the event an earthquake. This will increase the odds that everyone survives unharmed. Earthquakes can trigger additional emergencies, and individuals should also be prepared to contend with these related natural hazards; Tsunamis near coastal areas, Landslides or mudslides in mountainous regions, fires if gas lines are ruptured or power lines spark blazes and flooding if dams break or rivers are diverted. These hazards will vary based on where the earthquake hits and how strong it is, but thorough safety precautions will address these additional disasters.