By Dr. Ted Esguerra
An earthquake (EQ) is shaking of the ground which is caused by rocks breaking under stress due to tectonic movement or by volcanic activity.
The tectonic origin of an EQ happens if the tectonic edges or fault lines move suddenly wherein the underground plane of rocks breaks causing a jolt commonly known as an earthquake. The concerns an earthquake are the following hazards:
WHAT TO DO BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE
1. Discuss a plan with your family, coworkers and community members.
2. See if your community is situated along fault lines, shorelines or mountainsides. Ask assistance from your local disaster response/ rescue office. Every barangay, municipality, city, province and region has dedicated office, personnel and logistics to run the local disaster response/ rescue office.
3. Come up with a Family Communication Plan, Family Disaster Plan and Community-disaster plan (inquire from local disaster response/ rescue office, Red Cross or Bureau of Fire Protection for assistance).
4. Prepare a family emergency kit or Go Bag per member. You may also come up with a big bug-out bag for the whole family as redundancy. You can also stockpile essential items. Provide fire extinguishers for your household.
5. For those who are planning to build their homes in areas in question, please consult the DOST-PHIVOLCS for hazard mapping (Atlas of fault lines and consult the ‘How Safe Is My House’ consult your local government unit for land-use procedures, building codes and historical earthquakes of the place. Inquire on topography as to presence of secondary hazards like slopes and presence of structures like dams.
6. Familiarize where the gas tanks, breakers, and water valves are and do a drill on how to turn them off. Identify family members who can perform the same.
7. Fasten or anchor tall or heavy furniture onto the walls. Secure those which might drop during tremors by rearranging the aesthetics of your home. Put all heavy objects at the base of the shelves.
8. Identify where to do your initial ‘drop-cover-hold’ around the house, office, or school premises.
9. Learn the EQ evacuation plan and corridor in your house, community, school or workplace. Also note exit and mustering points in crowded areas as EQ might happen during your travel, market or mall schedules.
10. In the workplace or school, come up with an INCIDENT COMMAND MANAGEMENT which is part of the Disaster Incident Plan.
WHAT TO DO DURING AN EARTHQUAKE
1. If with a table to go under, execute Drop-Cover-Hold with eyes open (drop and seek cover under the table, hold on to the legs of the table). Stay calm and orient yourself to the exit area. You may also get at once your Go Bag if near your position.
2. Be sure you are not near glass windows, unfastened furniture, or any heavy ornaments that may fall.
3. If there is nothing to hide under to, do the ‘tri-pod position’ and keep eyes open with hands down to maintain balance during the tremor. Look up, front, left and right, and at your back. Watch for falling things. Orient yourself to the nearest, unblocked exit.
4. You may also stay low (tripod position) at the strong beam of the building.
5. You may stay near strong walls and stay there while the earthquake occurs. (In case you are hit and trapped by a huge fallen object, you will easily be seen by the rescuers because they will always search on walls inside the buildings. Rescuers consider walls as ‘lifelines’).
6. If in stairwell, stay low on the wall side while looking everywhere for things that might fall. Do the tripod or semi-kneeling position with one knee anchored on favorable edge of the stairs during the shaking.
7. If inside an elevator, hold onto the walls in a straddle position.
8. Do not drop, cover and hold with face smacked on the ground.
1. During sudden jolts, stay low by doing the tripod position. Open your eyes and scan the surroundings for posts, wires, debris from tall buildings, etc.
2. If outside any tall building, get away from the side to avoid being hit by fallen glass materials and other debris. You may maneuver in wide stride towards center of the road or stay low at the strong undercover or fenestration of the building.
3. While staying low (in tripod position), orient yourself on the possible hazards (facing tall buildings or posts with or without wire, etc).
4. You may stay beside a fixed, strong object (e.g. park bench) and stay low while observing your surroundings.
IF DRIVING OR TRAVELLING:
1. Stop the car. Before stopping, look where you are and check if there are structures which might fall on you (e.g. posts, wire, overpass structures). If there is room to maneuver, move to a place without hazards.
2. If trapped in heavy traffic and there is a high tendency that some dangerous structures will fall on your location, stop the engine, engage the hand brake and exit. Run towards a safe area.
3. If caught while on a elevated road, slowly stop the car, maneuver slowly towards the side and observe while holding firmly on the steering wheel. Seat-belt should be buckled.
4. Always vacate the middle part of the road for emergency services to pass through during response phase.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE
1. Check for any injuries in your body and also check injuries of others if in a safe location.
2. Do not use matches to or any ignition source in the event of a gas leak.
3. Evacuate to assigned locations if present or locate away from hazards like fire, breached structures, etc. Evacuate safely with your Go Bag and other necessary items.
4. During evacuation keep your balance. Check surroundings for hanging, unstable objects or debris on the ground. the more you see, the more you can stay safe.
5. Shut off the valves and breakers of water, gas and electricity.
6. If in the workplace, apply incident command immediately.
7. If working in a school, apply incident Command where teachers and school personnel are responsible for leading students to safety.
8. If there is live electricity involved. evacuate away from it.
9. If there is tsunami or seiche alert, get away at once from shoreline or lakeside.
10. Do not attempt to rescue persons in a damaged building. Reentry to a building must be done by professionals. Seek advice from structural engineers if building is habitable after the earthquake.
11. You may do fire fighting if you can and may use any available fire fighting equipment.
12. If trapped inside a building, call for attention.
13. If possible, use only SMS instead of calling. Remember, a lot of people will be using their smartphones and service providers may not accommodate all the traffic.
14. be mindful of aftershock(s)
(Source: Readiness in Times of Emergencies and Disasters Handbook by Dr. Ted Esguerra published by Innovative Educational Materials, Inc.)