Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

During An Earthquake
Originally published June 10, 2012

A recent 6.0 earthquake off our coast is being viewed as either practice for the “Big One” or a stress reliever for our ever-moving tectonic plates. We have previously explored what to do in preparation for an earthquake. In this installment we’re going to learn what to do during a seismic event. As I’ve mentioned earlier, most Oregonians are unfamiliar with earthquakes and as a result, we don’t know how to behave during a seismic event.

Indoors. The approved technique here is DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. My instinct always told me that if I were inside a building, I should GET OUT! Wrong. More people are killed by falling building debris than being crushed by pancaked buildings. So DROP to the floor so you don’t get knocked down by the violent shaking. Get under something solid like a strong table or desk, that’s the COVER part. If there’s nothing to get under, cover your head and face and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.

Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls and anything that fall. If you’re in bed, stay there. Protect yourself with your pillow unless you are under a heavy light fixture or fan that could fall. In that case move out of harm’s way. And don’t go jump in the bathtub, that’s the wrong disaster. That’s for tornadoes. Doorways are a good refuge if you know they are a good solid, load-bearing doorway, and if they are close by. Don’t go running around trying to find a protective doorway. More injuries occur when people are looking for a sheltered spot than if they had just dropped to the floor to ride out the event.

Outdoors. If you’re outdoors, stay there. Move away from trees, power lines and anything that could potentially fall on you. Ground movement is seldom the cause of fatalities, rather falling debris from collapsing buildings, shattered, flying glass and other falling objects are the biggest killers.

In a moving vehicle. Stop as soon as possible. Stay in the vehicle. Avoid overpasses, stopping under or beside buildings, bridges, utility wires and trees.

Don’t take time trying to decide what to do when it happens. Make up your mind right now what you’re going to do, and when the shaking starts, do it! The anatomy of an earthquake is such that you must act quickly to stay safe. Shed your normalcy bias and be ready to respond when you feel lthe first shake. Doing so will provide leadership to those around you, minimize your own chance of injury and quite possibly save the life of someone else. As always, if you have questions or comments you may contact me at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson