Keeping calm during an earthquake is crucial and yet for many this may be hardest to achieve, according Ion Benea, a former antiterrorist officer. The good news is that this skill can be trained, he explained during a recent “urban survival” seminar organized by insurer Omniasig. Here are some of his safety tips for surviving an earthquake while at home:
Before the earthquake
- The surest way to ensure safety during an earthquake is to be prepared for one by having good knowledge of your home’s safe and vulnerable areas and by having an emergency plan.
- Secure pieces of furniture or heavy decorations that might fall and injure.
- Know how to turn off gas and water installations and make sure these work properly.
- Identify safe spots inside your home where you can take refuge during an earthquake.
- This needs to be away from the windows and ideally near a structural wall or ceiling element, some heavy wood pieces of furniture that are secured against falling or a solid door frame.
- Try to avoid the kitchen where one of the few safe spaces is near a solid fridge, says Benea.
- Bathrooms are generally considered safe spaces although Benea recommends taking a blanket or a duvet along to protect from potential broken ceramic tiles.
- Always have a survival kit ready. This should contain food and water for 3 to 7 days, a basic medical kit, tools such as flashlight and a multifunctional knife, a spare phone battery, personal and personal hygiene products.
- Put together an emergency plan together with your family and practice safety drills. Establish a meeting point outside your home where to meet your family should the earthquake occur when not all family members are at home.
During the earthquake
- Keep calm and take refuge as soon as you feel the earthquake start. It generally takes 5 to 15 seconds to realize what is happening, says Benea.
- Huddle next to a structural element or secured piece of furniture in the fetal position and use your arms to protect your head. Benea recommends lying in a right side fetal position as this offers better protection for the spine and other vital organs.
- Stay away from windows and never go down the stairs, stresses Benea.
- The average earthquake does not last more than 100 seconds after which it is generally safe to assume it has ended.
- Should you be in the street during an earthquake, try to get away from buildings and go into open space.
- After the earthquake, assess your own medical state and that of others. Offer medical assistance if needed, but never move an unconscious victim.
These are only some basic guidelines on how to keep safe during an earthquake. For complete information please refer to official guides such as the one published by the General Department for Emergency Situations (IGSU) here. (https://www.igsu.ro/documente/informare_preventiva/ghid_cetatean_SU.pdf).