Earthquakes: Basic Survival Rules

www.saferaccess.org www.saferaccess.org AANetwork Networkof ofHumanitarian HumanitarianSafety SafetyExpertise Expertise May, May,2008 2008 Earthqua...
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www.saferaccess.org www.saferaccess.org

AANetwork Networkof ofHumanitarian HumanitarianSafety SafetyExpertise Expertise

May, May,2008 2008

Earthquakes: Basic Survival Rules

The following document outlines some of the basic issues surrounding earthquake survival and preparedness, and gives recommendations to aid workers in affected areas. This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act accordingly to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

Predicting the Threat Although nearly impossible to predict, certain parts of the earth with known fault lines are at higher risk of earthquakes than others. While many organisations that study earthquakes decline to make predictions, the map below was produced by GSHAP to show areas at greater risk.

This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

How Earthquakes Cause Damage Earthquakes create a number of different kinds of impacts, each of which require different strategies to mitigate against. These are: ƒShaking/Rupture. One of the principle cause of damage to structures. ƒLandslides and avalanches. Of obvious threat in mountainous terrain, these are of threat even during relatively mild earthquakes. ƒFires. Disruption of electricity and natural gas services caused by an earthquake can cause fires, which can become uncontrollable given a wider disruption of emergency services. ƒSoil liquefaction. This happens when water saturated material, such as soil but sometimes even concrete, changes from a solid to a liquid state. This can cause structures to sink, tip, or collapse. ƒTsunamis. Huge waves caused by underwater earthquakes, which can travel thousands of kilometers and devestate coastal regions. The 2004 Tsunami, caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean, is an obvious example. ƒSecondary Effects. All of the effects above can cause widespread damage to infrastructure, causing losses of electricity, potable water, damage to transportation networks, etc. All of these effects can in turn lead to disease outbreaks, civil disorder, internal displacement and other effects which can become more serious than the original damage caused by the earthquake. This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

Before an Earthquake There is rarely any warning prior to an earthquake occurring, and so it is vital that preparations are made well beforehand. ƒCheck for Hazards in the Home and Workplace. Consider what objects could become loose or fall during an earthquake. Fasten shelves securely to walls, and in warehouse areas, ensure that heavy items are not stored on high shelves. Check for deep cracks in structures, and get expert advice to repair them. ƒIdentify Safe Places. Consider what might be safe places should an earthquake occur. ƒEducate Staff. Discuss the risks and how you will cope with them. ƒHave Emergency Supplies Available. The same supplies that go into a hibernation kit double as emergency supplies in case of natural disaster. Ensure that they are stored somewhere likely to be accessible to survivors after an earthquake – not in a basement. ƒHave an Emergency Plan. Security plans should include how your organisation will weather a natural disaster, where staff will meet should communications fail, etc. You must plan to aid yourselves before your organisation can aid others. This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

During an Earthquake The majority of people killed during or immediately after an earthquake are crushed by collapsed structures or debris. Those that survive the initial collapse of buildings often do so because they are in a ”void” or space within the collapsed structure. The following advice can assist in finding a “safe place” during an earthquake: ƒ Get next to a large object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it. ƒ Curl up in the fetal position. Make yourself small so you can survive in a smaller void. ƒ Wooden buildings can be the safest type of structure. Wood is flexible, creates more voids when it does collapse, and has less concentrated weight. ƒ If you are in bed during an earthquake, roll off the bed. Next to the bottom of the bed is a likely place for a void to be formed. ƒ Doorways are not safe. If they collapse, there will be no void formed. ƒ Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible. Getting out of a building and away from falling debris is best, but if you must be in a building, stay near the outer walls – again this is a likely place for a void to be formed.

Void

Void

This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

During an Earthquake If outdoors ƒ Stay there. Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. If in a moving vehicle ƒ Stop as quickly as safety permits ƒ Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires. ƒ Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that may collapse. ƒ If there is a danger of a structure collapsing on the car, get out and move away, or go fetal beside the car. If trapped under debris ƒ Do not light a match. ƒ Do not move about or kick up dust. ƒ Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing to filter dust. ƒ Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust. This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

After an Earthquake ƒ Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the initial earthquake, but can follow hours, days or weeks afterwards. Don’t assume you are safe because you survived the initial tremors. ƒ Stay away from damaged areas. Unless providing essential assistance, or in the company of specialist responders, stay away from damaged structures which could collapse. ƒ Be aware of possible tsunamis. ƒ Inspect utilities – gas, electricity, water/sewage. All could have been damaged by the earthquake, even if comparatively minor. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker ƒ Ensure the safety of your own organisation and staff, so that you can be in a position to safely and effectively help others. This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

Summary of Recommendations

ƒ Know what areas you work in are at an elevated risk of experiencing earthquakes. ƒ Check buildings for potential hazards – existing structural damage, signs of poor construction, and falling hazards.

ƒ Consider retrofits of buildings to make them more resilient during an earthquake. Hire a qualified engineer to conduct assessments and recommend improvements.

ƒ Consider the use of blast film on windows to mitigate the hazard of flying glass. ƒ Ensure that suitable emergency supplies are stored in an accessible place in each of your work and living locations.

ƒ Have emergency plans that detail how your organisation will respond to an earthquake – first to secure its own staff and property, and then to aid others. Ensure that national staff and their needs are taken into account in this plan – they will require time and possibly support to assist their own family and community.

ƒ Discuss earthquake drills with your staff, and ensure they understand what the likely results of a severe earthquake would be, how to safeguard themselves, how your organisation will respond, and their role in the response.

This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

Summary of Recommendations ƒ Have a communications plan that assumes a total loss of infrastructure – use a warden system that allows messages to be passed on foot, or uses systems unlikely to be affected such as satellite phones.

ƒ Assist national staff to identify assembly areas for their families and communities. Should there be an earthquake, this will simply the initial response.

ƒ Expect a disruption of communications between the field and HQ. If the situation does not allow for having satellite communications in-country, consider alternate methods to relay messages such as through other IOs or Embassies.

ƒ Be in a good position to weather an emergency yourself, so that you and your organisation can assist others.

This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

Earthquake Terminology

ƒ Aftershock. A secondary earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earthquake. ƒ Epicenter. The place on the earth’s surface directly above the point on the fault where the earthquake rupture begins. Once it occurs, it expands along the fault, possibly for hundreds of miles. ƒ Fault. The fracture in the earths crust across which movement has occurred during an earthquake. The movement may range from less than an inch to several yards. ƒ Magnitude. The amount of energy released during an earthquake, which is computed from the amplitude of the seismic waves. Often measured using the “Richter Scale, ” a means to describe and compare the intensity of earthquakes. The “Mercalli Scale” is used to measure the intensity of the shaking. ƒ Seismic Waves. Vibrations that travel very rapidly from the earthquake fault. The majority of the destruction caused by an earthquake is due to the seismic waves.

This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

The Richter Scale Although the Richter Scale has been replaced in scientific use, it is still commonly used by the media when describing earthquakes. Each whole number on the scale represents an increase of about 30 times more energy released than the previous whole number represents. (6.0 is 30 times more powerful than 5.0) Magnitude Less than 2.0

Effect Likely not felt by humans. Likely not recorded by seismographs.

Frequency Very Common.

2.0 to 4.9

Ranging from not felt by humans, to causing noticeable effects such as rattling dishes. Recordable,

5.0 to 5.9

Can cause damage to weak structures.

Hundreds per year.

6.0 to 7.9

Can cause serious damage to all structures.

Over 100 per year.

8.0 to 8.9

Widespread, serious damage.

Roughly one every year.

9.0 to 9.9

Devastation over large areas, possibly thousands of kilometers wide.

Once every few decades.

10.0 or greater

Unknown, assumed to cause massive devastation.

Common.

Never recorded.

This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

www.saferaccess.org

A Network of Humanitarian Safety Expertise

May, 2008

About Safer Access A network of humanitarian safety expertise. Safer Access is a not-for-profit formed to help support and facilitate the provision of humanitarian and development aid. Our enabling approach is unique, and seeks to bring a fresh perspective on methods of reaching those in need. We work to build “safer access,” by relief and development organisations, to people in need. Safer Access seeks to change our sector’s approach to issues of safety and security, by creating a focus on enabling activities that are both sustainable and in keeping with humanitarian principles. We achieve this through activities designed to strengthen the aid sector’s ability to safely deliver assistance – through programme support, capacity building, advocacy, and the provision of information and analysis. Safer Access supports the open-source philosophy, and seeks to apply it to humanitarian access issues involving safety and security. Safer Access training documents and best practice are not regarded as proprietary material, and are intended to be shared widely and discussed within the humanitarian community as an open source resource. This philosophy, when applied to vital information and training, reflects our desire to ensure that our support reaches all of those that are in need. This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. Should you have any questions regarding this report, or about what Safer Access can do to help you achieve your goals in difficult operating environments, contact us at [email protected] or visit our website at www.saferaccess.org.

This information is provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community and is a result of research conducted by Safer Access. The circumstances and recommendations indicated by this report may change. All readers are therefore advised to act according to their own capacity and the latest information

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