Saturday, February 13, 2010

What Not To Do During An Earthquake

USGS photo from 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. C...Image via Wikipedia
You may have already read Streetwise blogger LM's fantastic article on earthquake survival in the Streetwise Courier, which details how to stock-up and prepare for life after a horrific quake.  Now, I'm going to re-inform you on how to reach that point, in other to survive during the initial moments of destruction and the collapse that follows, as happened in Haiti last month.
As school children we were all taught to "duck and cover", by getting under our desks to protect ourselves from falling debris....or to stand in an open doorway under the frame, which is the strongest part of the building.
However, according to Doug Copp, one of the top disaster rescue experts in the world, this is exactly what NOT to do, and is in dead wrong! Literally!
Copp is chief of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI),  the most experienced disaster rescue team in the world, and claims his information in this article is both factual, and will save lives in an earthquake:
"I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, and worked in every major disaster since 1985.  The first building I crawled into was a school in Mexico City during the '85 quake.  Every child was under its desk, and every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones.  They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles", said Copp.
"SIMPLY STATED,  when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceiling falling on objects or furniture crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them.  This space is what I call "the triangle of life". The larger and stronger the object, the less it will compact.  The less it compacts, the larger the void and the greater the probability that the person in that safety void will NOT be injured."
The following is a list of Doug Copp's VALUABLE TIPS FOR EARTHQUAKE SAFETY:
1-Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" when buildings collapse are crushed to death. Do not get under objects like desks or automobiles.
2-Cats, dogs and babies often curl up into the fetal position.  You should too during an earthquake.  It is a natural safety/survival instinct that allows one to survive in a small void.  Get next to an object, sofa or large bulky object that will compress and leave a void next to it.
3-Wooden buildings are the safest to be in because wood is flexible, and moves with the force of the quake. Wood also has less concentrated, crushing weight.  Brick buildings will break into individual bricks causing many injuries, but far less squashed bodies than with concrete slabs.
4-If you're in bed during an earthquake, simply roll off the bed.  A safe void will exist around  it.  Hotels should all post these rules on the back of every room door, insuring a greater survival rate.
5-If an earthquake occurs and you can't escape by door or window, lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa or large chair.
6-Don't get under an open doorway frame during a building collapse. Why?  Because if the doorjam falls forward or backward, you'll be crushed by the ceiling above.  If the doorjam falls sideways, you will be cut in half by the doorway. Either way, you will die!
7-NEVER go to the stairs!  Stairs swing separately from the main part of the building, and continually smash into the other parts of the building until structural failure takes place.  People on stairs are chopped up and mutilated by the stair treads.  Even if left intact, stairwells may collapse when overloaded by fleeing people. Stay off the stairs!
8-Get near the outer walls of buildings, or OUTSIDE  of them if possible. It's better to be outside the building than inside, because the further inside the perimeter, the less chance of escape.
9-People inside their cars during a quake are crushed to death when the road above caves in on them.  This is exactly what happened between the decks of the 'Nimitz Freeway' in the Oakland, San Francisco Bay Area during the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.  The victims all stayed inside of their vehicles and were killed.  They could easily have survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their cars, because all of the crushed cars had voids 3-feet high next to them.
10-It was discovered that a collapsed newspaper office, and other offices with lots of stacked paper were much more earthquake safe, because paper does not compact!  Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper!
Finally, Mr. Copp made a film 14-years ago that proved his survival methodology correct, by collapsing a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside, and then simulating with scientific actual earthquake.
Ten mannequins did "duck and cover", while the other ten used Copp's "triangle of life" survival method. After sifting through the rubble, Copp's ten mannequins had survived.  The remaining ten....did not.
We should all be dummies not to want to save thousands of lives by sharing valuable information like this regarding earthquakes, and the many other natural calamities that threaten our existance.
Thank You, and stay safe,

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