An earthquake is one of the scariest and devastating natural occurrences. They happen in the so-called seismoactive regions of the Earth. One of such regions is the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic.
The force (intensity) of earthquakes is measured in magnitude according to a 12 point magnitude scale. Depending on their manifestations on the surface of the Earth, earthquakes can be described in the following manner:
1-3 points – weak
4-5 points – noticeable
6-7 points- strong
8-10 points – devastating
11-12 – catastrophic
During the occurrence of an earthquake people experience unpleasant feelings, sometimes panic fear, which leads to unreasonable and life-threatening behavior for many people.
It is very important that people who live or temporarily find themselves in seismoactive regions can use simple safety precaution measures and know what to do in case of an earthquake.
Remember, that people who know what to do before, during, and after an earthquake can overcome their fear much easier.
Measures for protecting the population in case of earthquake hazard
1. Set out the safest exit route from the room in case of an earthquake in advance. Remember that it can happen at night, and doorways and corridors will be filled with people, which can hinder quick escape from the rooms. Evacuation can also be carried out through first floor windows.
2. Identify the safest places in the house or apartment – inner corners of bearing walls, apertures of interior doors, tables, beds, machinery, in advance.
Keep in mind that the most dangerous places in building during earthquakes are large, glassed-in apertures of inner and outer walls, corner rooms, especially on the last floors, elevators and staircase landings.
3. Teach children and other family members to take safe spaces.
4. Teach yourself and all adult members of the family to turn off electricity, gas and water supply in the apartment, entrance hall and house.
5. Think about how to ensure safety of children, the elderly and the disabled.
6. Securely attach wardrobes, bookcases, rack cabinets and shelves to walls. Place your furniture in such a way as to prevent it from falling on sleeping spots, blocking exits from rooms and doors.
7. Securely fix and move down heavy objects lying on shelves, furniture and wardrobes. Make sure that your bed is located away from large windows, mirrors and heavy objects that may fall down.
8. Do not hang shelves above sleeping spots, entrance doors, sinks and toilets.
9. Do not obstruct entrance to the apartment, hallways and staircase landings with things.
10. Vessels with easily inflammable and caustic liquids should be tightly sealed and stored in such a way as to prevent them from falling and breaking during building’s vibrations.
11. Learn to render first medical aid, principally for traumas. Have a first aid kit with a supply of medicaments at home.
12. Keep in mind that it is possible to use your garage or summer cabin, basement in the yard as a shelter, where one can sit out the disaster and where it is necessary to store a supply of food and clothes.
13. Check the condition of your home; determine what kind of reinforcing measures are needed.
14. In rural settlements, check whether your home or workplace is in the flooding-hazardous zone or near steep, landslide-hazardous slopes as well as in the areas of mudflow formation. If it is, plan the evacuation order together with the members of your family, and neighbors. Remember that strong earthquakes can cause such dangerous occurrences as landslides, landfalls, stone falls, cracks in the ground, surface subsidence, soil liquefaction.
During a strong earthquake
When an earthquake is passing, the ground will tremble palpably for a relatively short time – several seconds or 1-2 minutes during a strong earthquake. These vibrations may possibly provoke fear in you. But you have no other choice but to wait for them to cease. Do not panic. If you act in a calm and conscious manner, you will have more chances to stay uninjured. Moreover, you will serve as an example to other people.
In the room:
1. If you have felt tremors of the ground or the building, react immediately, keeping in mind that the greatest danger comes from falling objects.
2. If you are on the first floor of a multi-story building in a personal home made from raw blocks, burnt or mud bricks and you can quickly leave the house in the first 15-20 seconds, do it. After leaving the building, move away from it to an open space and keep away from power lines, gas pipes, tall buildings and bridges.
3. If you remain in a room, immediately take a safe place chosen in advance. If there is danger of falling plaster, lamps, glass, hide under the table or a bed. School students can hide under desks, turn away from windows and cover their face and head with hands.
4. If you are in a room above the first floor of a multi-story house do not run to the elevator and stairs, since they often collapse during an earthquake. In this case, open the door wide and stand in the aperture. Do not get scared of the door jams – this happens due to the building’s slanting.
5. In any building keep away from the windows, stay close to inner bearing building walls. Watch out for glass partitions.
6. Do not jump out of the window if you are above the first floor. Remember that this can lead to an injury even if the building is completely intact.
7. Do not jump into glassed windows. If it is truly necessary, break the glass with a chair or, in an extreme case – with your back.
8. When in crowded places (shops, cinema theaters, schools, institutes, railway stations) do not succumb to general panic, stay close to bearing walls and away from hanging objects– chandeliers, ventilators, billboards.
9. Force yourself to stay calm; do not do anything that may disorganize people around you.
10. In a rural area, an earthquake may provoke mudflows, landslides, land and stone falls. Therefore try to move to the most elevated area and away from flooding zones, steep slopes and sheer cliffs.
11. It is prohibited to stay near the cattle yard – you can be trampled by frightened animals.
On the street:
1. While on the pavement near a tall building, move to an open space in order to avoid falling rubble and away from power lines. Watch out for torn cables.
2. Do not run along the building, do not enter buildings: falling debris pose a serious hazard to life.
3. If you are in a moving vehicle, smoothly stop it, away from tall buildings, power lines, bridges, gas stations, steep slope.
After the earthquake
After ground tremors stop, you may discover significant damages and injured people. At this time, it is especially important to keep calm and start to help the wounded and the injured immediately-
1. Render first aid to the injured. Cover injured people with blankets to avoid hypothermia. Send a doctor to the injured.
2. Ensure safety of children, sick people and the elderly. Try to support and encourage those who are psychologically traumatized by what is happening.
3. Free people trapped under the rubble. Be careful. If additional help – medical or other is needed. Wait for it.
4. If you find sources of fire, try to take measures to put them out.
5. Check for power line damages. Fix these or turn off power supply.
6. Check for water line damages. If possible, fix the damages or turn off water supply.
7. Shut down gas valves, if there is a danger of leakage. Determine gas leakage by smell and never use matches and candles for this purpose.
8. Before using the plumbing system, make sure that it is functioning properly in the building, basement.
9. Remove spilled hazardous liquids (gasoline, chemicals, etc.) and warn others about them.
10. Do not approach visibly damaged buildings, do not enter them. Do not enter zones of destruction if your help is not needed there.
11. When inspecting basements, storages, open the door carefully in order to avoid falling heavy objects, such as beams and plaster.
12. Do not take up the telephone without urgent need, except for calling help, reporting serious accidents, injuries or crimes. Remember that overloading telephone lines decreases the effectiveness of rescue services.
13. Do not invent and spread any rumors or guesses about possible subsequent tremors. Use official information.
14. If you are trapped under the rubble, calmly assess the situation. Provide first aid to yourself, if necessary, stop the bleeding, apply bandage.
15. Help those near you to calm down. Try to connect with the people outside (using your voice, knocks). Save your strength. Remember that help will come, the main thing is to wait for it.
16. Remember that the risk of subsequent tremors remains. Recurring tremors can happen several minutes, hours and even days after the main tremors.
Heads and workers responsible for the safety of people!
Together with the local authorities, develop measures on seismic safety that take into account the specific character of dwellings, your organization’s buildings, enterprises, establishments, schools, kindergartens, daycare centers, hospitals.
Project engineers and builders! Remember that your potential mistakes, inaccurate work, violations of technology can decrease the strength of buildings and structures and create risks for those who will live and work in these buildings.
Heads of objects! Keep a watch over the technical condition of buildings and structures. Without appropriate attention, even the object in the best condition can fall into a critical state early.