Surviving an Earthquake – Outside

Depending on the magnitude and scale of an earthquake, you could experience different situations. No matter if there is just a slight shuddering of the ground or your whole house is rocked on the foundation, there is no denying that earthquakes can be dangerous. Every earthquake, regardless of size or strength, should be treated the same. You never know what the outcome will be; Just as we still have trouble predicting the weather we have trouble predicting the exact time and strength of a quake. Even if we could predict this and a weatherman came on the news telling you the specifications of the earthquake this shouldn’t ease your caution. I hope you wouldn’t feel completely ready for any event just because you knew when it was coming.

Japanese Earthquake

Any earthquake can be dangerous

When an earthquake hits, you want to be prepared the same as any natural disaster. At the same time you never know where you will be when it happens. You could be inside a mall bathroom, outside in a forest or desert, and even just walking home. Today we are talking about being outside, whether in a forest, desert, backyard, or at the park.

The first thing to do when you first start to feel the earthquake is to take in your surroundings. This is a quick glance and doesn’t take much time. Most people will tell you to drop to the ground first, however that doesn’t do much good if you are standing right next to a power pole and it falls on you during the shake. My first step is to take a good look around, glance and see where everything is. Find the closest and most open area; Run to it and DROP TO THE GROUND. You want to avoid being near buildings. Being next to an outside wall of a building is the most dangerous place to be. The windows could shatter outwards and items from inside the building can be tossed out as well. Architecture and decorative hangings can also fall from buildings… stay away from any  building if possible.

Steer absolutely clear of telephone poles and electric wires. If you are in a rural environment, perhaps summering in the mountains, try to stay clear of clumps of trees. You aren’t always going to be in an open clearing. Just get to the safest perceived place and get on the ground, this is most important. Getting onto your hands and knees in an earthquake is the best position for a few reasons. It lets you move around if the need arises, but keeps you from getting knocked to your knees from all the shaking (and possibly getting hurt worse) if you were to be standing. This position is also perfect to let you under certain structures that might help protect you. For instance, if there is no obviously safe place to run while in a park, you may still have a picnic table to dive under. If you do decide to ride it out under simple items such as this, make sure you are ready to move along with it, if it shifts during the quake

Earthquake survival

If there is a sturdy object, drop and cover underneath it!

The CDC states:
“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.”

Even after the shaking, stay in your current position for at least a few minutes in case of an aftershock and so on. Perhaps something was knocked loose or partially broken off and is about to fall in a delayed manner now that the shaking has stopped. All is not immediately safe so just be cautious. If you are making your way back home afterward, make sure to go carefully and avoid fallen power lines and poles/pylons etc… Earthquakes can be dangerous, but if you are ready for it  and know what to do then you have a better chance of not sustaining injuries. Most injuries arise from falling to the ground, objects falling, and glass breaking. Make sure you are away from the most dangerous places and wait it out. Always remember to cover your neck and head with your arms/hands and keep down low.

Stay safe, and thanks for reading!

-Matthew Pizgatti

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