In the Event of an Earthquake…

If you’ve read my last post and you’re wondering what you should actually do during an earthquake and its aftermath, then check out these safety tips to help you through it.

If you want to find out what to do in order to prepare for an earthquake, then click here. And if you’re interested in Japan’s Early Warning System, then click here.

During the Earthquake

Whether you find out through Japan’s Early Warning System, or through actually feeling the earth shuddering under your feet, here are some tips to keep you safe while the quake happens:

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If you’re inside during an earthquake, the first thing to do is to find a place to hide and Drop, Cover and Hold On. Of course there are a number of places that you could do this depending on your house or where you are when the earthquake hits.

If you’re at the office, in the lounge, or at your desk, then it’s a good idea to find cover under a table or another stable structure. Putting your hands over your head and keeping your head down could also help you against falling objects.

If you’re in bed, you should curl up into a ball under the covers, while protecting your head with a pillow.

If you’re in the toilet, you should stay put and wrap yourself around the base of the toilet (try and protect your head). Of course, in many Western countries, bathrooms are not safe due to tiles and mirrors, but luckily, in Japan, house toilets are in a tiny separate room that don’t have mirrors and are actually relatively sturdy.

While many people claim that you should stand under a door frame during an earthquake, it’s actually been found that it’s far better to just Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

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During an earthquake, buildings sometimes shift and crack, causing windows to shatter in their frames. Therefore, it’s very important to stay away from all windows during a quake as the shards and fragments could end up cutting you.

Also, stay clear of any appliances or objects that could fall and shatter as they could spread as much glass as any window.

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Although this one is self-explanatory, it’s still worth mentioning. Do not take the elevator! Take the stairs. The majority of office buildings in Japan will automatically cut off the elevator, but if this does not happen, it’s still better not to risk it. Take the stairs.

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If you’re outside when an earthquake hits, you should find a clear open space and Drop, Cover and Hold On. Much like being indoors, this tactic is highly useful as falling objects are the biggest risk during a quake. So stay away from buildings, trees, power lines, and lampposts when you drop to the ground.

If you’re near the coast when an earthquake hits, then it’s possible that there may be a tsunami warning. However, it’s important that you don’t move during the earthquake. It’s better to stay in crouching position until the shaking stops – then you can evacuate to higher ground.

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The same goes for mountainous areas. Earthquakes often trigger landslides and if you’re caught in an earthquake, it’s important to stay put and only move if you’re in immediate danger of a landslide.

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Driving during an earthquake is incredibly dangerous. So if you’re in the car when an earthquake strikes, it’s advised that you pull over at the nearest (and safest) spot. Remember to stay away from buildings, power lines, and trees. Switching on your car radio is also a great idea in order to stay informed.

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During the Aftermath

Once the shaking has subsided, it’s important to remember that the danger is not over yet! The majority of deaths actually occur after an earthquake – this is due to fires, tsunamis, and crumbling infrastructure. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep these guidelines in mind once the main tremor is over:

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After a major earthquake, it’s wise to expect aftershocks. These are smaller tremors that occur as a result of the crust around the fault line settling. These shocks can range in size and frequency, and they could easily trigger further damage and destruction. In fact, the 6.9 earthquake on the 22nd of November 2016 is considered to be an aftershock of the 9.1 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

If you feel any aftershocks, then you should immediately Drop, Cover and Hold On.

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Just like in the guidelines found in airplane booklets, it’s recommended that you check yourself out for any and all injuries before assisting others. This includes administering any first-aid that you may need.

Once this is done, make sure to check over the people around you. However, before attempting to move around too much, or to help trapped people, it’s a great idea to put on any long-sleeved clothing, as well as workman’s gloves, that you may have around you. This could help protect you against any broken objects.

After everyone is safe, you should then check out your house for any damage. Open doors, windows, and cabinets carefully as they have shifted during the quake. Extinguishing small fires, securing any dangling objects and cleaning up any dangerous materials is also of utmost importance. If your house is unsafe, then you should immediately evacuate.

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Evacuation is always likely during a natural disaster and earthquakes are no different. However, if your house is not severely damaged or in any immediate danger, then you should, in fact, stay in your home. This is so that emergency services are not too overwhelmed by the sheer number of people looking for shelter.

But if your home is too damaged, or there is the threat of fire, landslides, or tsunamis, then evacuation is vital.

Every city and local area in Japan should have an evacuation shelter or assembly point where you can meet with emergency services in a safe area. Therefore, it’s a good idea to become accustomed with these areas beforehand.

If you’re in a coastal area when an earthquake strikes, it’s important to keep your ears and eyes open for a tsunami warning. Listen to any emergency service announcements to keep yourself updated and prepare to evacuate. If the tsunami warning is signaled (characterized by a loud piercing siren), then leave your home immediately. Head to higher ground as far inland as possible. Make sure to take an emergency kit and any pets you might have.

Return to your home only when authorities say that it is safe to do so.

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After an earthquake, you should definitely check your telephone, cellular and internet services. And if you can get a dial tone, remember to only make brief phone calls to report any life-threatening emergencies.

If you do have internet access or cellular data, then you should immediately send your friends and family a message letting them know that you are safe. And if you are worried about another family member in the vicinity, then briefly call them to find out where they are and if they need any assistance. But again, the key here is to be as brief as possible.

Well, there you have it. These are all of the main points to remember during an earthquake. However, if you would like more detailed information, then check out the websites below:

One thought on “In the Event of an Earthquake…

  1. Pingback: Facts and Fiction: Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Japan – Booth in Japan

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