As clean up continues after the powerful earthquake that devastated Mexico City this week, many are wondering how safe their homes and office buildings really are. It turns out, these deadly earthquakes can happen anywhere — no matter where you live.
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So what do you really need to know about earthquake safety? Ian Buckle, director of the earthquake lab at the University of Nevada, has one key piece of advice.
"The rule of thumb is you duck, cover and hold, which is great if you've got something to duck and cover under like a table or a desk. And that's what children are taught in school," Buckle says. "Cover your head and get down."
In the past, some experts have advised people to stand in a doorframe as the best form of protection. But that's not always the best options, says Buckle.
"That depends if the door frame is in a load bearing wall and it may work and it may not. Stay away from the doors." And the higher up you are, the more dangerous an earthquakes effects may be.
The Department of Homeland Security has laid out several tips for people located in areas prone to earthquakes.
Before An Earthquake
- Try to secure large items, like bookshelves, mirrors, television sets or computers, that could fall and cause injures.
- Practice your "drop, cover and hold on" routine by dropping to the ground, covering your head with your arms and finding a safe place away from potentially harmful debris.
- Store medical and emergency supplies, like bandages and water, in a safe place.
- Have a structural engineer check your home for any potential issues and make recommendations for improving your foundation.
During An Earthquake
If you are inside a building:
Drop down onto your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn’t knock you down. Drop to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!)
Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris.
Hold on to any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops.
Stay where you are until the shaking stops. Do not run outside. Do not get in a doorway as this does not provide protection from falling or flying objects, and you may not be able to remain standing.
If you are outside when you feel the shaking:
If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once in the open, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Stay there until the shaking stops.
After an Earthquake
After the shaking stops, survey the surrounding area. Head to an open space away from damaged buildings, if possible.
If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust but if you can easily reach for your cell phone, call or text for help.
Check for injuries and provide assistance if you have training. Assist with rescues if you can do so safely.
Do not attempt to remove heavy debris by yourself.
Be prepared to “Drop, Cover, and Hold on” in the likely event of aftershocks.
To learn more life-saving tips that may help you during an earthquake, visit Ready.gov.