Safety precautions in an earthquake

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By Aamir Ali

 

An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 occurred at around 12.35pm with epicenter at Afghanistan-Tajikistan border. The earthquake was felt in Jammu and Kashmir as well. J&K State falls in Seismic Zone IV and V and is vulnerable to earthquakes. In view of our vulnerability to disasters especially earthquakes and the fact that earthquakes cannot be predicted we need to take adequate precautionary measures to minimize loss of life and damage to property. we need to adopt non-structural measures, such as re-arrange furniture items in our homes, especially corridors and passages, so as to allow easy movement in case of evacuation. Heavy objects should be placed on the floor or on lower shelves so that they don’t fall in the event of shaking. We should construct earthquake resistant buildings and religiously follow Do’s and Don’ts about earthquakes safety measures. We need to learn about earthquakes, speak about them with our friends, family members.

All members of the family should compulsorily be taught basic first aid and fire-fighting. Civil Defence Organisation, SDRF and Red Cross provide training free of cost to interested persons. All members of the family should learn to switch-off main electric supply and the LPG regulator, in case the need arises. First-aid kits, fire extinguisher, rope, torch, adequate drinking water, ready-to-eat food items and portable transistor radio should be kept available and handy, so that these can be put to use, in the event of a disaster. 

 

Before an earthquake:

Structural measures and BIS codes should be followed and earthquake-resistant buildings should be constructed. The existing old structures should be retrofitted. Non-structural measures should be adopted, such as re-arranging furniture items in our homes, especially corridors and passages, so as to allow easy movement, in case of evacuation. Heavy objects should be placed on the floor or on lower shelves so that they don’t fall in the event of shaking. All members of the family should compulsorily be taught basic first aid and fire-fighting. Civil Defence Organisation, SDRF and Red Cross provide this training free of cost to interested persons. All members of the family should learn to switch-off main electric supply and the LPG regulator, in case the need arises. First-aid kits, fire extinguisher, rope, torch, adequate drinking water, ready-to-eat food items and portable transistor radio should be kept available and handy, so that these can be put to use, in the event of a disaster.

During an earthquake:

•         If indoors, we should drop down to the floor and take cover under a sturdy desk, table or furniture; hold on to it and be prepared to move with it, until the ground stops shaking. This is called drop, cover and hold technique. Take cover under the lintel of an inner door; or in the corner of a room. Stay clear of windows, fireplaces, heavy furniture or appliances that may fall. Keep away from windows, mirrors and chimneys.
•         Never rush to the doors or exist, as it may cause a stampede. Never use the lift in case of an earthquake or fire.
•         If in a crowded area, take cover, stay calm and encourage others to do likewise.

•         If you are outside, move away from buildings and electric wires. Walk towards an open place, in a calm and composed manner. Don’t run and keep away from buildings, especially old, tall or dilapidated buildings, electric wires, slopes and walls, which may be liable to collapse.

•         If you are driving, stop your vehicle, away from the traffic and park safely on the side, but stay inside your car. Keep away from bridges, flyovers and tunnels. Avoid stopping under trees or electric lines.

•         If you are in a mountainous area, or near unstable slopes/cliffs, be alert for avalanches, falling rocks or debris that could be loosened by the earthquake.

After an earthquake:

•        Expect aftershocks. Keep calm and do not panic.
•        Switch on the radio and obey any instructions you hear on the radio.

•        Turn off the electricity and LPG in your homes and offices, if possible. Don’t light matches or a lighter. Do not turn on electric switches as there may be gas leaks or short-circuits. Use a torch instead. In case of a fire, try to put it out with the help of a fire extinguisher and inform the fire brigade on phone number 101.
•        If there are people injured, help them if you are trained in first-aid.
•        In case your home is badly damaged you may have to leave it. Collect water containers, food and ordinary and special medicines, for persons with heart complaints, diabetes, asthma etc. Do not re-enter badly damaged buildings and don’t go near damaged structures.

•        Do not spread and don’t believe in rumors.

(The author is Director, Disaster Management and Dy. CEO J&K State Disaster Management Authority)

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