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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When temblor strikes, drop, cover & hold on

 What should you do if an earthquake happens? Apart from not panicking, the prescription is pretty simple: Drop, cover and hold on. That means, drop down and curl up, cover yourself by crawling under a sturdy table or a corner and hold on to something stable. 
    Experience from across the world, and reams of expert studies have shown that more than a third of casualties during earthquakes take place by falling and fly objects inside homes or workplaces, says Arun Sahdeo, a consultant at the government run National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi. But what about running out of the building, which is the popular wisdom? Again, most experts globally recommend 
that unless you are on the ground or lower floors, it is not advisable to run out of the building. By the time you get out it will be too late. 
    The National Disaster Management Agency's dos and don'ts recommend staying inside and taking cover. Similar recommendations are used the world over including by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the US and the Japan Meteorological Agency. 
    "In congested cities like we have in India, going out might mean exposing yourself to very dangerous falling objects like electricity poles and lines, hoardings, building parts etc. One should go out only to open spaces," stresses Sahdeo. 
    It is necessary to drop down immediately because otherwise you will get knocked down by the shaking. And then you may not be in a position to protect your head and face. If in bed, staying put and covering your head with a pillow is the best course rather than running about. Taking cover is recommended because objects like fans, televisions, other fixtures, wall hanging objects may fall down. It is matter of seconds, so time should not be wasted, says Sahdeo echoing international recommendations. 
    If you happen to be travelling in an automobile try to stop safely. Again stay put, unless you are in totally open 
    space. - bile will protect you more from falling objects. The advise of running out into the open becomes relevant for rural areas where houses will mostly be low-rise and open spaces nearby. In the case of tsunamis, usually there will be an early warning. The recommended plan of action is to heed the warning and immediately move inland or towards a higher place. Never make the mistake of thinking that you can start running once you see the killer wave – many have died making this mistake. 
DOS AND DON'TS EARTHQUAKES 
Don't run out unless you are on the lower floors If you run out, stay away from buildings, walls, electric poles If inside, crouch under a sturdy table or in a corner or door If in an automobile, stop slowly, away from trees and buildings, remain inside 
TSUNAMI 
Listen to early warnings Immediately move inland or to higher ground Don't wait to see the tsunami

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