Mitigation of Earthquake Effects

Earthquake mitigation measures can reduce earthquake damage which among others includes improved building codes and community awareness campaigns. It can also help to have valuable tips on ways to keep your family safe before, during and after an earthquake. The following are some of the action measures that can minimize damages, injuries, and other potential earthquake concerns:-

Before the Earthquake:
Some important things that families and individuals can do to prepare for an earthquake:

  • The Government or institutions should conduct geological and geophysical assessment for locating faults and monitoring crustal movements that could generate earthquakes, this is useful information in delineating areas of potential damage and can eventually facilitate in land use planning.
  • For families and individuals be prepared to act. Know how to act so your response is automatic. Know at least two ways through which you can exit from the building safely after an earthquake.
  • Identify or locate safe places in each room of your house or work area that you can go to in case of an earthquake. It should be a spot where nothing is likely to fall on you.
  • Prepare an earthquake emergency kit with non-perishable food, bottled water, flashlights, first aid materials, blankets, whistle, gloves, goggles, sturdy shoes and other essential items and store it where it will be easily accessible.Stock up on emergency supplies and plan as if food and water may not be available for about 24 hours.
  • Arrange your work or residence area for safety. Make sure that bookcases, large file cabinets, cupboards, artwork and all other indoor material are properly anchored. Store heavy objects on lower shelves or cabinets so they do not become dangerous projectiles. Store breakable objects in cabinets with latches to prevent them from opening during an earthquake. Firmly secure bookcases, artwork, mounted televisions and other objects to withstand as much shaking as possible.
  • Use non-skid shelf liners for kitchen and bathroom cupboards, medicine cabinets, and closet shelves and do not put heavy artwork, mirrors, or shelves over beds.
  • Update home insurance policies to adequately cover building costs, possession replacement, and injury deductibles.
  • Secure large appliances such as refrigerators, water heaters, air conditioners, and other bulky items with straps, bolts, and other stabilizing methods.
  • Set up a family or workers meeting location in a safe area.
  • Educate people about earthquakes through public awareness campaigns to avoid injuries from panic during an earthquake. Teach all family members basic first aid, how to behave during a quake, and what to do after a quake.

During an earthquake:
Earthquakes can last just a few seconds or several minutes, understanding of the safety measures on account of ground shaking can help prevent injuries:

  • People in doors are advised to avoid running outside buildings as the shaking lasts only after few seconds of which you may not be able to have evacuated the building and by doing so you may also be hurt by falling objects or walls. Don’t take long to decide, it would be better to take cover at the corner of the building where walls intersect and under tables or beds for protection from falling objects inside the building not to directly hit the body. Stay away from bookcases, windows or furniture that can fall on you.
  • You should stay calm brace yourself to keep your balance, sitting if possible until the shaking has completely ceased and you are sure it is safe to exit the building.
  • While outside, people should stay in open areas away from polls, power transmission lines, tall trees and buildings (stuff might fall off the building or the building could fall on you).Drop to the ground and cover your head and eyes to minimize injury from flying debris.
  • If driving, stop quickly but safely and stay in the vehicle. Do not stop near power lines, bridges, overpasses, or other potentially dangerous locations.
  • Don’t take elevators during an earthquake as they'll probably get stuck.
  • If cooking, turn off heating elements immediately.
  • Don't use matches, candles, or any flame as there might be broken gas lines.

After an earthquake:

  • Remain calm and reassuring. Check yourself and other for injuries. Do not move injured people unless they are in danger. Use your training to provide first aid, use fire extinguishers, and clean up spills. In laboratories, safely shut down processes when possible.
  • Turn off gas, electricity, and water if damage is suspected or if advised to do so by authorities.
  • Tend injuries immediately and summon emergency assistance if necessary.
  • Use telephones only to report a life-threatening emergency. Cell and hard-line phone systems can be jammed. Text messages take less band width and may go through when voice calls can’t be made.
  • Check for structural damage, but do not enter a building that shows damage or has visible cracks in the walls or foundation. Call for construction engineers to have the building inspected.
  • Wear shoes at all times to avoid stepping on broken glass or sharp objects.
  • Be cautious opening cabinets, cupboards, and closets in case items may be poised to fall.
  • Be ready to act without electricity or lights. Know how to move around your work area and how to exit in the dark. Know how to access and use your emergency supplies. Be aware of objects that have shifted during the earthquake.
  • If you must leave a building, use extreme caution. Continually assess your surroundings and be on the lookout for falling debris and other hazards. Take your keys, personal items and emergency supplies with you if safe to do so.
  • Avoid downed power lines or objects touched by the downed wires.
  • Don’t go near damaged buildings as aftershocks may accelerate their falling.
  • Be patient: It may take hours or days to restore all services depending on the severity of the earthquake.
  • Avoid visiting waterfront areas or beaches as some earthquakes may cause tsunamis.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks that can last for hours or days.