There are no guarantees in life. And especially in survival situations. All you can do is the best you can do. But when it comes to surviving earthquakes, what you do immediately might just keep you alive.
A colleague of mine was in Nepal on vacation during their recent serious earthquakes. That, and the new movie San Andreas got me thinking about earthquake survival techniques. The last time I was in a serious earthquake environment was when I was stationed in the Army in The People’s Republic of California. Then there were the few small quakes in Afghanistan. Surviving a serious earthquake is about doing the right things immediately to increase the odds in your favor. Obviously you should always have your EDC with you. And a pre-packed bug out bag either at home or with you to get you through the aftermath of the quake. But it is what you do during the quake that might make all the difference. Here are some tips on courses of action to survive long enough to use your survival gear.
On Foot Outdoors
Stay outside and avoid buildings or other structures that could fall. Try to get to an open area. Especially avoid power lines. The greatest danger from falling debris is just outside doorways and close to outer walls. Once in the open, get down low (to avoid being knocked down by strong shaking) and stay there until the shaking stops.
In an Automobile
If you are in a moving automobile, stop as soon as safely possible. Move your car to the shoulder or curb, away from utility poles, overhead wires, and under or overpasses. Stay in the car and set the parking brake. Turn on the radio for emergency broadcast information. A car may bounce violently on its springs, but it is better to stay in it until the shaking stops. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until help arrives. When you feel it is safe to move on, watch out for road damage caused by the quake. Avoid downed power lines, overpasses and bridges. They may be weakened by the quake and come down on you on their own timetable.
Move away from glass and hanging objects. Drop to your hands and knees to avoid being knocked down by the quake. Try to get under the cover of something like a strong table. If there is no cover, get down near an interior wall and cover your neck and head with your arms and hands. Do not stand in a doorway. In modern houses and buildings they are no stronger than the interior walls. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by falling or flying objects (e.g., TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases), or by being knocked to the ground. If in a high-rise building do not try to use the elevators. Get next to an interior wall or under cover if possible. If you are in a crowed indoors, drop where you are. Don’t try to rush for the exit because everyone else will be and getting crushed in the stampede is a real possibility.
When the Shaking Stops.
Get away from all structures as soon as possible. If indoors, do not light any fire producing items as gas lines may have broken. If your home is severely damaged, then activating your bug out plan may be called for. Be prepared to deal with after shocks which usually come. If you are near a shore line, get inland and to high ground as quickly as possible
In an earthquake, you need to take the proper steps immediately to give you the best chance of survival.
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