Movement within the Earth’s crust causes stress along the fault lines to build up. The stored energy accumulates – and when the pressure finally exceeds the strength of the rock foundation, it fractures along a fault line. This release of stored energy manifests itself as an earthquake. They are intense vibrations of seismic waves spread out from a focus point. Think of it as a ripple effect, with the waves instead of being water; it is the ground under you.
Several places around the world are known as earthquake hotspots. The Pacific Northwest, or the Cascadia Subduction Zone, is prone to earthquakes. In the United States, California and Hawaii are also categorized as hotspot zones. If you live in one of these zones, then it is essential that you have a comprehensive preparation plan.
What Kills People During Earthquakes?
Hollywood movies have inaccurately portrayed earthquakes. In popular culture, earthquakes are depicted as being able to split open the ground and swallow people, cars, and loved ones and then closing – killing and destroying whatever it just consumed.
Earthquakes don’t directly claim victims, but human-made structures do. The collapse of bridges, retaining walls, buildings, and dams cause blunt force trauma or trap people. For example, a 2011 earthquake in New Zealand caused a building to collapse, killing 115 people. The total number of casualties stemming from that earthquake was 185. It goes to show you how these human-made structures can quickly become deathtraps in the face of an earthquake.
Preparing For Earthquakes in Prone Are
Create a safety kit. In this kit include:
- Prescription drugs that are required.
- Baby food and formula.
- Breathable masks and a first aid kit.
- Include proper ID, like a photocopy of your passport or driver’s license. It’s also important to include photos of your family in case of separation. The Red Cross has a comprehensive list to help you.
Preparing your home. Even if you live in an earthquake-prone area, there are several ways that you can make buildings more resistant to damage. If you’re the owner of the land, you can employ professional help to reinforce your foundation, masonry walls, and crawlspaces. Walk through your home and take note of expensive, bulky items like home appliances. You can use flexible fasteners or hooks to make sure that they stay in place.
Is there a “safe” room in the home? Depending on the structure and characteristics of your home, there are certain rooms that you should avoid. The home garage is typically the most unsafe room, since it is the weakest part, with flammable substances and hazardous materials. The safest place is one that is reinforced by four walls and won’t be impeded by falling furniture. This is typically your closet – but it is essential that you do not have items high up on the walls of your closet that can fall on you. If you are away from your closets, then an alternative is hiding underneath a sturdy table made out of wood, steel, or some other reinforced material.