Whether you need your survival scissors in an emergency situation or for ordinary survival tasks while hiking or on an off-grid escapade, EMT shears will be a great addition in any prepper Bug Out Bag.
Did you know that earthquakes happen hundreds of times every day all over the world? That’s right!
Earthquakes with a magnitude below 2 happen continuously every day even though we do not detect them.
Stronger earthquakes with a magnitude above 7 happen more than once every month while extremely strong earthquakes with a magnitude of 8 and above happen every year.
Fortunately, only high-magnitude earthquakes are deadly and destructive which makes them the focus of this article on how to survive an earthquake.
You can survive an earthquake by reinforcing the structure of your house and bolting all the high-standing furniture.
Also, prepare an earthquake survival kit in advance and practice the “drop, cover, hold on” survival drill.
Once the earthquake stops, ensure the shaking has stopped before you move from your safety location.
Unfortunately, unlike storms, floods, and to some degree Tsunamis, we cannot predict earthquakes. We only know they are here when we experience their quake, destruction, and the loss of lives.
So why exactly can’t we predict earthquakes?
The nature of earthquakes is probably the reason why we cannot predict their occurrence until they have shaken our presumably firm planet, the earth. We shall be telling you more about that in this article.
In addition, we will give you crucial earthquake survival tips. But let’s start you off by explaining the nature of earthquakes and a few other important facts on this devastating natural disaster.
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As the term suggests, earthquakes are natural occurrences that make the earth tremble or quake. The trembling happens when one of the blocks of the earth slips over another and eventually detaches.
At times these quakes are mild and may manifest as foreshocks before a major earthquake (mainshock) happens. An aftershock (or more of them) always follows a mainshock. Aftershocks may go on for days, months, or even years.
Earthquakes are caused by the movement of the blocks that make up the earth. To understand how this happens, it’s important to refresh our geography lessons on the earth’s structure.
The last two layers (mantle and crust) make up the fine cover on the surface of the earth. The two are also made of many pieces (tectonic plates) that move slowly, consistently bumping onto and sliding on each other.
Tectonic plates have edges and faults. The tectonic plate edges get stuck on each other and friction builds on the faults.
Once a tectonic plate has moved away enough, the plate edges give in, causing an earthquake. The place directly underneath where the earthquake occurs forms the hypocenter while the one directly above on the surface of the earth is the epicenter.
In summary, here’s what happens on the earth’s structure to cause an earthquake:
The power of seismic waves determines the strength of an earthquake and is used to classify them.
Earthquakes are classified according to their Magnitude (M) or the amount of energy that they release. This is measured on a Richter scale, developed in 1935 by the US seismologist Charles Richter.
Earthquakes have extremely high energy that could even be higher than atomic bombs. In fact, an atomic bomb with energy amounting to 1019erg like the 1946 Bikini Atoll nuclear bomb test by the US in the Marshall Islands would be outdone by a 5.5 Magnitude earthquake which releases around 1020erg.
Surprisingly, a 5.5 Magnitude earthquake is not the strongest we could experience. See these examples of the 11 strongest earthquakes that the world has experienced in the past.
|1.||Valdivia Earthquake (Bio-Bio, Chile)||1960||9.5|
|2.||Great Alaska Earthquake (Southern Alaska)||1964||9.2|
|3.||Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake (Northern Sumatra-Indonesia)||2004||9.1|
|4.||Tohoku Earthquake (Honshu-Japan)||2011||9.1|
|5.||Kamchatka (Kamchatka Peninsula-Russia)||1952||9.0|
|6.||Maule Earthquake (Bio-Bio, Chile)||2010||8.8|
|7.||Ecuador–Colombia Earthquake (Ecuador Coast)||1906||8.8|
|8.||Rat Islands Earthquake (Alaska)||1965||8.7|
|9.||Assam, Tibet (Eastern Xizang-India border)||1950||8.6|
|10.||Aceh earthquake (Northern Sumatra-Indonesia)||2012||8.6|
|11.||Nias Earthquake (Northern Sumatra- Indonesia)||2005||8.6|
While the featured earthquakes have high Magnitudes, seismologists record earthquakes with a Magnitude as low as a 2. Hence, earthquakes are classified into these 6 categories depending on their Magnitude.
The higher the Magnitude of an earthquake, the greater its destructive power, and the more deadly it is.
As such, even though we can’t predict the occurrence of earthquakes, we should enhance our chances of surviving them by learning what to do during an earthquake, which is what you will be reading about for the rest of the article.
We can never really be ready for an earthquake or prevent its enormous destructive power.
But we can increase our chances of surviving its wrath by taking certain preparatory and proactive measures before, during, and after its occurrence.
There are the 4 things you must do to enhance your chances of surviving an earthquake.
Read on for the details on each of these earthquake survival strategies.
Even though there are no proven ways for predicting an earthquake, experts and non-experts are discussing some pre-earthquake signs.
These may give you some hints so you can be on the lookout for a looming earthquake and protect yourself from its dangers.
Note, however, that geologists warn against depending on these pre-earthquake signs for the following reasons:
Here are 4 of the most common non-scientific pre-earthquake signs that are considered possible pointers of an impending earthquake.
Earthquake lights are probably the most discussed possible predictor of earthquakes among scientists.
They are light phenomena that have been reported at the epicenter of an earthquake before or during its occurrence. They have been recorded in a variety of forms including:
There is no consensus among seismologists that these lights are herald-signs of an earthquake, which explains why we should be skeptical in relying on them until conclusive evidence is made.
The low Magnitude tremors that precede a bigger earthquake can save you from the devastating impact of a high-magnitude earthquake. You can take cover and precautionary measures soon as you experience a foreshock.
Some ways of telling foreshocks are trembling objects such as a glass of water on a table or feeling tremors on your bed or seat.
That foreshocks precede most of the major earthquakes is a scientifically proven fact. For example, a study that examined the earthquake catalog in Southern California found that most mainshock earthquakes have been preceded by foreshocks, a fact that is considered a possible breakthrough in the science of predicting earthquakes.
Nonetheless, two details should be born in mind when considering foreshocks as precursors of high-magnitude earthquakes.
Unusual animal behavior has often occurred before natural disasters such as earthquakes and Tsunamis.
Animals including birds, toads, and bees have abandoned their homes days or hours before an earthquake while domestic pets have shown strange behavior such as running away from home to higher places, becoming violent all of a sudden, or hiding under furniture.
Though it is maintained that unusual animal behavior is difficult to rely on and one cannot tell if animals are migrating as part of their natural rhythm or from anticipating a natural disaster, studies such as the one done in L’Aquila, Italy before the 2009 earthquake showed that toads stopped they usual breeding rhythm 5 days before the earthquake and did not resume for days after that.
Similarly, in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami, people in Indonesia reported seeing animals run to higher ground before the devastating occurrence happened.
This may not pass as a herald earthquake sign immediately before it happens. But it may serve as a consistent warning that people living or visiting a place that is known for common earthquakes can use to stay always prepared.
One such place is the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake spot in Northern Sumatra-Indonesia. This Earthquake Track shows consistent light and moderate (M4-5) earthquakes at or around Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Another such place is Bio-Bio in Chile.
On our previous list of 11 strongest earthquakes, 3 have occurred at or near Northern Sumatra, Indonesia and 2 at Bio-Bio, Chile. Anyone living or visiting such areas should consider every minute a pre-earthquake minute and be prepared to take cover.
Knowing the extensive destruction that earthquakes can cause to human life and property and preparing for the eventuality of an earthquake would is common wisdom.
Earthquake survival prepping can be done in several ways, including the following:
Earthquake proofing your house is something you should consider even before construction to preempt structural damage.
If that was not done or your house is purchased, you can think about reinforcing the foundation, walls, floors, and roof.
In addition, you should secure the contents of your house so they can withstand vertical and lateral earthquake forces.
Consider the following tips to earthquake-proof your house:
Securing the site and house structure
See in this video how a seismic-activated gas valve works.
Securing the house contents
Anyone teaching you the skill of surviving an earthquake will use this rule of thumb: “drop, cover, hold on.”
Drop down on your knees and hands to avoid being knocked over. Doing so also helps you crawl to a safe location.
Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from debris as you seek a safe place. If you are indoors, take cover under a table or crawl next to an interior wall away from windows if no table is available.
Hold on to a sturdy object until the shaking stops. If for some reason you are seated and unable to drop on your knees, ensure you cover your neck and head with your arms.
Considering that there is no way of telling a looming earthquake yet, subscribing to an earthquake early warning system informs you about an occurring earthquake as soon as it is reported and you have better chances of taking safety measures.
These systems also keep you updated about the earthquake’s evolution and sends you messages about evacuation services and available emergency shelters.
Not every country has an earthquake early warning service. Some of those with this service include Japan, China, Taiwan, Mexico, Romania, Turkey, and Italy.
In the US there is ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system for the West Coast which detects earthquakes quickly and simultaneously sends an alert so you have some seconds to take cover before the shaking starts.
It’s important to think about your life after an earthquake. If your house should be partially or completely destroyed, you’ll have to start all over with building or buying a new house.
Buying earthquake insurance will save you the stress of being without a home and not having the funds to purchase or build a new one.
An earthquake family communication plan is an agreement between family members about where they will meet in case an earthquake occurs and what phone numbers they will use to communicate with each other.
Such a plan may also identify a contact person (family or friend) outside the state or earthquake-prone area who will act as a link-person between family members.
This is useful because being out of the affected area gives the person a better communication network and they can help the affected family members to trace each other.
An earthquake survival kit is a crucial preparatory detail. The basic earthquake survival kit includes a first aid kit and survival kits for all the locations where an earthquake can find you like the office, home, or in a car.
Your earthquake survival kit should include supplies enough to last for 72 hours (3 days) for you and each of the members of your family.
If you are wondering how to put together an earthquake survival kit, here’s the complete earthquake survival kit list that you should refer to when assembling your own earthquake survival kit for the office, home, and car.
If you don’t want the hassle of putting together an earthquake survival kit, you can buy a readymade one.
This emergency earthquake kit is perfect for any natural disaster situation. It is built in different sizes, from one that is fit for 1 person to one that caters to 6 persons. All have provisions for 72 hours (3 days).
You have all you need to survive the extreme eventualities of an earthquake. For example, the 2-person Complete Earthquake Bag kit has the following items among others:
Everything in the 2-person survival bag weighs 16 pounds and has a dimension of 12ʺ x 9ʺ x 20ʺ. If you are alone, you can buy this earthquake survival kit and make a mini survival kit for your office or car by splitting the contents into two.
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As with all survival kits, your earthquake emergency bag should be kept in a location where you can easily and quickly grab it as you head to safety:
Remember to inspect your earthquake survival kit regularly to ensure the supplies are in good condition and that none are expired.
As can be guessed from what we’ve said so far, you will have to act differently to survive an earthquake depending on where you are.
How to survive an earthquake at home / in the office:
Follow the “drop, cover, hold on” survival skill
How to survive an earthquake if you are outside:
How to survive an earthquake if you are in your car:
How to survive an earthquake if you are using a walking stick:
Drop to the ground on your arms and knees if you can and cover your neck and head with your arms. Leave your cane beside you to help you get back on your feet once the shaking stops.
How to survive an earthquake if you are using a walker:
Lock, sit or lean on it, and cover your head and neck with your arms.
How to survive an earthquake if you are in a wheelchair:
Lock, cover your head and neck and stay on the chair.
Knowing what to do after an earthquake is as important as knowing how to prepare for an earthquake and what to do when it strikes.
Once you are sure the shaking has stopped, follow these tips to stay safe and avoid after earthquake dangers.
Some frequently asked questions on how to prepare for an earthquake and how to survive an earthquake are worth addressing here.
No, you can’t! Even seismologists have not yet discovered a sure and scientific way of telling an earthquake before it happens.
However, some non-scientific methods such as the “earthquake light”, unusual animal behavior, and foreshocks have been used as possible but scientifically non-proven hints to the occurrence of an earthquake.
The strength of an earthquake depends on how big the sliding fault is and the amount of sliding that is happening. Consistent sliding builds the friction that turns into seismic waves when a block detaches.
Because it’s impossible to measure that manually, seismologists use seismographs to record the Magnitude (M) of an earthquake. Earthquakes of M ≥ 8 are the strongest and most destructive.
The ten countries in the world that are most prone to earthquakes are Japan, Indonesia, China, Iran, Turkey, Peru, the US, Italy, India, and Afghanistan.
The 10 cities in the world that are most prone to earthquakes are Tokyo, Jakarta, Manilla, Los Angeles, Quinto, Osaka, San Francisco, Lima, Tehran, and Istanbul.
Unlike other natural disasters that give signs before they happen and can be detected in advance by experts, earthquakes do not forewarn us of their happening.
While this fact makes surviving an earthquake extremely difficult, preparing for an earthquake is an essential step to surviving this natural disaster.
Be always ready with an earthquake survival kit, secure your home against earthquakes, and learn the skills that will save you when an earthquake strikes.
Remember, it’s better to be prepared and not need the earthquake survival gear than to be caught unawares, risking your life and that of your dear ones.