Disasters can happen at any time. Widespread disasters such as earthquakes seldom give us much warning before leveling large areas. Whatever man can build, nature can knock down in seconds. The most effective approach to surviving an earthquake is to implement stronger building codes. High-risk areas like California have stricter building codes. If you find yourself living or visiting there during one of these tremors, you may be better off in one of these earthquake resistant structures. However, what if you were traveling to a third-world country, such as Haiti, Kathmandu, Nepal, Istanbul, or Ecuador? Shoddy or non-existent building codes coupled with poor infrastructure make death tolls skyrocket in large-scale disasters such as earthquakes. If you do find yourself in a situation like this, there some strategies you can employ to increase your chances of walking away unscathed.
The most conventional and accepted practice by the disaster-response community is the drop, cover and hold on approach, which instructs you to take cover beneath something like a heavy table or doorway to avoid falling objects. The newer method—and less researched—is the triangle of life. It recommends lying down in a fetal position not under but next to furniture. As roofs and walls collapse atop those sofas and desks, buffer spaces appear that supposedly protect people from falling debris.
What you may consider, is that both approaches can work depending on the situation. In well-made earthquake resistant buildings, the drop, cover and hold on approach makes a bit more sense. Since the building is less likely to collapse around you, people caught in this situation have a lesser chance of smaller chunks of debris striking them if they are under furniture. In less stable structures like those commonly found in third-world countries, the triangle of life may work better, since the roof is more likely to come down completely. Government organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tell people to practice the drop and cover routine regardless of your surroundings. Whichever side is correct, it seems that neither is a fool proof route to survival.
After an earthquake, you have to make a decision to either bug-in or bug-out. If your damage is light and you have access to renewable sources of food and water, bugging in may be safer. Avoiding hazards such as downed power lines and scattered debris might be more pertinent than packing up and facing those threats head on. On the contrary, if you find yourself less than fully prepared, you may have to travel to get to food and water.
Most importantly, remember that in most cases, the government is not going to come and save you. There is simply not enough resources regionally available to handle really wide spread disasters. No level of government planning and preparation can account for every possible outcome. When something large scale hits, you are in it for yourself and your family. Always keep a 72-hour kit handy and be ready to help your family.
Have you ever lived through a serious earthquake? Share your survival stories with us!