Earthquake and precautions to save life

Chennai & most of the states on the eastern coast of India trembled a couple of days back when the tremors hit us. Some of us in our organisation too panicked & strangely there were many who did not understand the seriousness of any such disaster and were found casually evacuating our office premises. Medguru would like to focus on the right approach to be handled during any such natural calamities or whenever an alert is given for possibility of any such disaster in the days to come (however, let us pray that we don’t face any such days).
An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time. Earthquakes are measured using observations from seismometers. The moment magnitude is the most common scale on which earthquakes larger than approximately 5 are reported for the entire globe. The more numerous earthquakes smaller than magnitude 5 reported by national seismological observatories are measured mostly on the local magnitude scale, also referred to as the Richter scale. These two scales are numerically similar over their range of validity. Magnitude 3 or lower earthquakes are mostly almost imperceptible and magnitude 7 and over potentially cause serious damage over large areas, depending on their depth. The largest earthquakes in historic times have been of magnitude slightly over 9, although there is no limit to the possible magnitude. The most recent large earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or larger was a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan in 2011 (as of March 2011), and it was the largest Japanese earthquake since records began.
 Tsunamis are a series of large ocean waves generated by major earthquakes beneath the ocean floor or major landslides into the ocean. When the waves enter shallow water, they may rise to several feet or, in rare cases, tens of feet, striking the coast with devastating force. People on the beach or in low coastal areas need to be aware that a tsunami could arrive within minutes after a severe earthquake. The tsunami danger period can continue for many hours after a major earthquake. A tsunami can occur during any season of the year and at any time, day or night.

What to do during an earthquake?
  • Keep calm and keep others calm.

If you are inside a building (office premises) 
  • Do not rush to the doors or exist; never use the lifts; keep well away from windows, mirrors, chimneys and furniture.
·         Understand the criticality of the situation and evacuate the premises swiftly. Do not wait for your friends, chat & have fun with them casually when evacuating, chat over mobile phones on what you experienced etc., (in hindsight these are all the activities we did yesterday L)
·         Don’t be too worried about carrying your belongings out of the premises
·         Don’t be too conscious about swiping out your cards
·         If you are at home, protect yourself by staying under the lintel of an inner door, in the comer of a room, under a table or even under a bed.

If you are in the street: 
  • Walk towards an open place, in a calm and composed manner. Do not run and do not wander round the streets.
  • Keep away from buildings, especially old, tall of detached buildings, electricity wires, slopes and walls, which are liable to collapse.

If you are driving: 
  • Stop the vehicle away from building, walls, slopes, electricity wires and cables, and stay in the vehicle.

What to do after an earthquake?
  • Keep calm, switch on the transistor radio and obey any instructions you hear on the radio.
  • Keep away from beaches and low banks of rivers. A huge wave may sweep it.
  • Expect aftershocks
  • Turn off the water, gas and electricity.
  • Do not smoke and do not light matches or use a cigarette lighter. Do not turn on switches. There may be gas leaks or short-circuits.
  • Use a torch.
  • If there is a fire, try to put it out. If you cannot, call the fire brigade.
  • If people are seriously injured, do not move them unless they are in danger.
  • Immediately clean up any inflammable products that may have spilled (alcohol, paint, etc.)
  • If you know that people have been buried, tell the rescue teams. Do not rush and do not worsen the situation of injured persons or your own situation.
  • Avoid places where there are loose electric wires and do not touch any metal object in contact with them
  • Do not drink water from open containers without having examined it and filtered it through a sieve, a filter or an ordinary clean cloth.
  • Eat something. You will feel better and more capable of helping others.
  • If your home is badly damaged you will have to leave it. Collect water containers, food and ordinary and special medicines(for persons with heart complaints, diabetes, etc.)
  • Do not re-enter badly damaged buildings and do not go near damaged structures.
  • Do not walk around the streets to see what have happened. Keep clear of the streets to enable rescue vehicles to pass.
Do’s and Don’ts in Case of a  Tsunami Alert is Issued.
·       Find out if your home, school, workplace or other frequently visited locations are in tsunami hazard areas.
·       Plan evacuation routes from your home, school, workplace and other places you could be where tsunamis present a risk.
·       Find out what the school evacuation plan is. Find out if the plan requires you to pick your children up from school or from another location. Telephone lines during a tsunami watch or warning may be  overloaded and routes to and from schools may be jammed.
·       Avoid downed power lines and stay away from buildings and bridges from which heavy objects might fall during an aftershock.
      ·       If you hear an official tsunami warning or detect signs of a tsunami, evacuate at once.
      ·       Get to higher ground as far inland as possible. Watching a tsunami could put you in grave danger. If you can see the wave, you are too close to escape it.
·       Return home only after local officials tell you it is safe. A tsunami is a series of waves that may continue for hours. Do not assume that after one wave the danger is over. The next wave may be larger than the first one.
      ·       Avoid disaster areas. Your presence might interfere with emergency response operations and put you at further risk from the residual effects of floods.

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