We publish this article of the New Zealand Civil Defense Emergency Management to make sure that people will follow the right protection guidelines and to avoid the always returning confusion on what to do when an earthquake strikes.
The advice from civil defense and The NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering comes in response to a widely circulated email by a self-professed rescue expert.
Information on “Triangle of Life” in the email contradicts current advice on what to do in an earthquake.
Although the email source has been discredited in the US, where it originated, the emails have been virulent enough to create some public concern both in the US and in New Zealand.
Standard advice in New Zealand for what to do in an earthquake is to drop, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, and hold on, or shelter against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases etc. That advice still holds true and has not changed says John Hamilton, the Director of Civil DefenseÂ Emergency Management.
œThis practice will protect people in most earthquake scenarios.
This is the drill practiced by schoolchildren, and what civil defense agencies have consistently promoted around the country.”
œIn a severe earthquake it is absolutely vital that people respond immediately. Confusion about what to do can result in people getting seriously injured or killed.
œOur advice is to identify safe places in your home, office or school before an earthquake so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly.
œAn immediate response to move to the safe place can save lives. And that safe place should be within a few steps or two meters to avoid injury from flying debris, says Mr Hamilton.
Graeme Beattie, who is president of the NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering and is a structural engineer at the Building Research Association of NZ, says that each year about 70 damaging earthquakes occur throughout the world.
New Zealand experiences hundreds of earthquakes every year but most of these are either very deep in the earth™s crust or centered well offshore, and cause little damage or injury. But over 100 quakes a year are big enough to be felt, and a severe one can occur at any time.
œThe 1931 magnitude 7.8 Hawke™s Bay earthquake caused significant damage and resulted in the introduction of the first New Zealand earthquake resistant design standards.
œIn New Zealand we are fortunate to have sound building codes and earthquake resilient structures and can have some level of confidence in our buildings.
œBut we know from recent international tragedies such as the ones in Kobe, Japan in 1995, and in Taiwan in 1998, that the best building codes in the world do nothing for buildings built before modern codes were enacted. Fixing problems in older buildings “ retrofitting – is in most cases the responsibility of the building™s owner. However, small improvements can make big differences.
œGround vibrations during an earthquake are seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake related injuries and deaths result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects caused by the ground shaking, says Mr Beattie.