With the rising threats of Earthquakes in Pakistan each year, it is crucial to know about the safety measures one should take in case of an earthquake.Earthquakes are one of those natural disasters that have the ability to rattle our planet, on a regular basis, in some part of the world every hour, every day. Many of them are too minute for human beings to feel them but every now and then, a whopper shakes our planet to its core. They, as with many natural disasters, have the ability to hit us when we least expect them. In circumstances as these we see floods and floods of people running hither and dither for dear lives, not being able to apprehend the shock or to decipher what to do.
Why do Earthquakes happen?
To get to understand earthquakes better, it is important that we notice what causes them and where. They are the result of a slow-motion march of plates called the tectonic plates which produce stress in the Earth’s crust, thus causing it to hit a breaking point and shake in the most violent manner. Majority of the earthquakes occur near the edges of the tectonic plates called fault lines, but the scientists are still not very accurate about this subject. Unfortunately, the scientists are still unable to predict when and where they will occur, which is why they are more shocking to experience. What they can do is to tell us where they are most likely to occur.
Foreshocks and Aftershocks:
Commonly, before and after an earthquake occurs on a large scale, it sends smaller earthquakes. The ones that occur before the main shock are called foreshocks and those that occur after the main shock are called aftershocks.
Earthquakes in Pakistan
Over the past many years, Pakistan has experienced many deadly earthquakes that are born as a result of the juncture of three tectonic plates most likely to collide. Pakistan is located on three of those plates namely: Indian, Eurasian and Arabian. The Chaman Fault which grinds the Indian and Eurasian plates together is responsible for these destructive quakes. An earthquake that occurs along the Chaman Fault will affect areas in the north more than the south.
How to Stay Safe During an Earthquake
Since earthquakes are so unpredictable and destructive, it is important to know all the safety precautions that may come in handy in a vulnerable situation like this. Here are some of the tips that you must keep in mind in case of an earthquake:
Staying Safe Before an Earthquake:
If you live in a zone that is prone to more earthquakes, you should take the following measures beforehand:
- Make an emergency plan for your house and your community in case of an earthquake.
- Find a sheltered place that can provide you shield during an earthquake. You must choose a place that you can crawl under or sit down without getting hurt.
- If there are any loose items that may come undone during an earthquake, fix them immediately.
- Learn and practice the “Drop, Cover and Hold” move in case you are in an open area during the earthquake.
- Keep your important documents like passports and ID cards etc in a spot from where they can be retrieved easily and quickly by your family members.
- While moving to a new place, make sure if it can resist earthquakes as per local building codes.
Staying Safe Indoors During an Earthquake:
If you are inside your house or building when an earthquake strikes, you should take the following measures:
- Do the ‘Drop, Cover, Hold’ move. First of all, drop to your knees, then cover your head and neck with your hands. Hold this position until the shaking stops.
- Never go about running outside as the falling debris may drop on you.
- Avoid using an elevator during an earthquake.
- If there is no desk near you, drop on to the floor that is next to a wall and put your hands above your head and neck.
- If you are in bed, do not get out. Instead, cover your head with a pillow and stay that way until the earthquake stops.
- Stay away from glass walls and windows.
Staying Safe Outdoors During an Earthquake:
Just in case you are outside in the open when an earthquake strikes, you should take the following measures:
- Subject to possibility, move to a clear area slowly avoiding any building, trees and power lines.
- In the case of a tall building is nearby, get as far away from it as possible.
- If the shaking starts while you are driving, slowly pull over to the side and stop when you can.
- Steer clear of any bridges, power lines, trees, buildings and other things that have a chance of falling on you or your vehicle.
- If you are inside a vehicle and a power line drops on to it, do not move it or get out until a professional who is trained comes to remove it.
Staying Safe After an Earthquake:
If you made out safe during the earthquake, there are still certain safety measures you should take once the shaking stops. These measures are:
- Once the earthquake is over, look around you and find a safe way out of the building or the house you are in.
- If you are outdoors already, do not rush in to the property to save others.
- If you got trapped under debris, do not try to move it away yourself because that way you might trap yourself more or injure yourself trying to pick up heavy debris. There are chances that your struggle might kick up dust and make it difficult for you to breathe.
- If you are luckily carrying your phone, try to make a call for help. If the signals aren’t enough, try sending a text message.
- Earthquakes often bring aftershocks so get ready to take cover in case of an aftershock.
- It is wise to sleep outside at night in the open, in the case of chances of aftershocks.
Staying Safe by Checking for hazardous Conditions:
After the earthquake passes, make sure there aren’t any damaged things or dangerous conditions that might create safety problems for you later:
- Damaged Wiring: In case of any damage to your home, immediately power off the main breaker and do not turn it on until the damage is repaired.
- Erupted Fires: In case of any fires that might have erupted during the tremble, put them out immediately and call for help.
- Cracked Walls: There may be left many cracks in your walls because of the earthquake, in case of which the walls can be very dangerous so steer clear of them as they could topple on top of you because of aftershocks.
- Toppling Items: Be careful while opening cupboards or cabinets after an earthquake as the things inside them may topple and fall on top of you.
- Leaking Gas: Check your gas pipes for any damage or leaks, in case of which turn the gas off and do not turn it back on until the gas company has it repaired.
Staying Safe in case of Damaged Home:
- Before re-entering your home, make sure that it is completely safe.
- Check for any gas leaks before using flames or any electrical equipment.
- Make sure all your wirings and water lines are safe. Incase of damage, call for maintenance.
It is crucial to remember that any personal belongings are not as important as your life and safety. Many people immediately think of keeping their pricy items out of harm’s way in case of emergencies like this and as a result, lose something far more valuable: life. Do not jeopardize your life to save your valuable items, except important documents that you might need later. Safety comes first and a life once lost cannot be brought back.
Spread the word to your near and dear ones to let them know about the information that could save a person’s life. Stay safe!