D14 Responding to earthquakes

DisastersDisaster relief

Certain areas of the world are known to be at risk from earthquakes. However, sometimes there may be hundreds of years between major earthquakes. Earthquakes usually arrive with no warning and no time at all to prepare.

  • In areas known to be at risk of earthquakes, buildings should always be strengthened to prevent roofs and walls collapsing. Mud blocks must be avoided as these disintegrate and bury people inside. Make sure shelves and bookcases are firmly secured to walls.
  • If an earthquake begins while you are inside a building, either stand in a strong doorway or get under a strong table. Stand well away from glass windows, picture frames and bookshelves. Do not rush to the exits. If you are outside when an earthquake begins, move away from buildings and trees. Do not return to help injured survivors until you are sure the earthquake is over.

Discussion 
  • How can you find out if you live in an earthquake zone?
  • If you know you live in an earthquake zone, ask the civic authorities about their building regulations. Hold public meetings to publicise these and expose any builders who are known to be breaking such regulations. It is better to expose poor builders and challenge them to improve their standards, than wait for hundreds to be killed in weak, poorly designed buildings.
  • Discuss how you could arrange to invite local government officers, independent builders or NGOs to come and give training and courses on improved building methods. What are the problems poor people face in strengthening their homes?
  • What ideas do you have for maintaining an awareness of the danger of earthquakes if the last major earthquake happened long before living memory?