How to survive an earthquake
by Trevor Mogg
If there's anything a girl worth her salt should know it's how to survive an earthquake. As if we need to tell you that. Our earthquake survival tips will help you survive anything from Gojira encounters to shifting tectonic plates!
Oh yes, you know how it is - you're living or holidaying in a country under which there's a meeting of plates of the slippery tectonic variety. The country hasn't had an earthquake in ages. Nothing. Not even a little wobble. But that's because tension and pressure has been building up over the course of many years. And then it happens. It gives. Plate-grinding earthquake time. And you happen to be there. So, how to survive?
Wear massive pants
That's right, wear your biggest - because you'll be filling them to the brim with every ounce of fear contained within your quivering body.
Watch the animals for earthquake clues
Apparently geologists - with all their know-how, knowledge, and scientific skill - cannot predict earthquakes. But dogs can. Watch the dogs like a hawk, and watch the hawks too, for it's believed that shortly before an earthquake, animals start doing strange things. So if you're walking to the shops and see a dog juggling or a cat riding a bicycle, it's a pretty safe bet that some shaking shenanigans will soon be coming your way. Hold on tight.
Prepare a box of useful earthquake survival items
Whether you're living in a quake-prone country (like, say, Japan) or on holiday in one, it might be worth having a few odds and ends in a box by the bed - just in case you find yourself: a) Outside, surrounded by rubble, or b) Inside, in the rubble.
In the box could be a number of useful items, such as a torch so that you can marvel at the rubble around you and check that all your limbs are still attached.
Food. Tinned food, but tins with a ring pull - you don't want to be faffing about looking for a tin opener when you're between some rocks and a hard place.
Some plasters would be good, too. Great for cuts and bruises, though admittedly not much good for a cruciate fracture of the distal femur.
Check the position of heavy objects
I've been in houses in earthquake zones where heavy boxes have been placed directly above the bed. In the event of an earthquake, a rocking 'n' rolling room is usually enough to bring you quickly from your slumber. If not, a box on your head certainly will, though it may cause some motor neuron problems too. So the advice is: Move heavy and/or sharp objects from high places to places where they can't drop, ie. the floor.
Have some clothes by the bed
If you sleep naked, you don't want to be hanging about looking for something nice to wear as the building is being shaken to its foundations. Time is precious when masonry is coming down around your ears, so have something close by that's easy to sling on. You don't want to be running outside in your birthday suit.
Get under a table?
Many people think that in the event of an earthquake you'll just need to saunter over to the dining table, gently crouch down, crawl under, and simply wait for the show to end. But as far as I can tell, if you're in a hotel or block of flats with 50 storeys above you comprising heavy things like televisions and books and ovens and fridges and wardrobes and CONCRETE, then under a table is the last place you'll want to be. Legging it down the emergency stairs might be a better option.
Run to the toilet
If you're too high up or the building is crumbling to bits before you have a chance to flee, get to the toilet. No, not because you might want to empty your filled pants (though you might), but because, with four walls so close together, the toilet is deemed to be the strongest room in any building. Indeed, it might be the only room left standing at the end of the quake. Alternatively, it might be where the rescue workers find you, no longer alive. Just like Elvis.
Check for damage
You're in the middle of an earthquake. Are all the walls still there? Is the ceiling still in the ceiling or is it now part of the floor? Does it look like the building is about to fall down? If you have any doubts about the structural integrity of the building, relocate to somewhere safe, like a field in the middle of nowhere.
Check for leaks
If the quake finishes and you're still inside your building, the first thing you should do is check for leaks. If you can smell gas, whether or not it's emanating from your bottom, you should evacuate quickly - the building, that is.
Watch your step
If you and your building survive the quake, you might need to make your way to the local evacuation centre. On your way there, avoid getting too near to high walls. One minute you might be skipping along, rejoicing that you've made it out alive, and the next you've lost your skip because you're languishing under a pile of bricks. Stay alert at all times.
If driving during an earthquake...
...Stop driving. Do not keep driving as you will more than likely disappear down a large hole or off a bridge that suddenly ends where it didn't use to end - like halfway across a river.
In the event of a big quake, you'll probably find yourself wanting to scream, yell, shout out, fall to the floor, jump out of the window, collapse in a heap, wail like a banshee, and fill your massive pants. If possible, stay calm, keep quiet and don't panic. You might want to say a quick prayer, though.
More How to guides, Interesting Hobbies and Arts & Crafts
Japan is a nation that experiences many earthquakes and it's something of a commonly accepted fact that a big earthquake will hit the Kanto region (where Tokyo is) in the not-too-distant future. Japanese DIY stores often have entire rows dedicated to earthquake survival kits.
A popular, yet very unique Japanese book is called '51 ways to protect your girlfriend'. The story goes like this: One day a big earthquake hits when you are dating in the downtown area. You have to protect your girlfriend. And the book tells you what to do.