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>An Earthquake Myth

October 15, 2010

>CVNL is the Emergency Volunteer Center (EVC) for Marin County. If you’re looking to volunteer or need volunteers before, during, or after a disaster, please contact the Center at (415) 479-5710. Please establish your own personal safety before attempting to help others.

What’s your first thought when an earthquake strikes? Run to a doorway, right!? Think again. Unless you live in an unreinforced adobe home, the safest thing to do is drop, take cover under a table or similar object, and hold on.

The myth originates from when many houses were constructed primarily of adobe. Back then, the only part of the building left standing following an earthquake was the doorway! In most modern homes, the doorway is no stronger than any other part of the house and can often be more dangerous as the door swings wildly or people try to escape.

What to do in other situations:

In bed — Stay there. Shield your head with a pillow unless you are under a heavy light fixture; in that case, move to the nearest point of shelter.

Outside — Do not attempt to go inside. Get into an open space away from buildings, power lines, trees, or anything else that could potentially fall. Beware of entering structurally unsound buildings following an earthquake.

Driving — Stop as quickly and as safely as possible. Avoid stopping under buildings, overpasses, or power lines. Following the earthquake, avoid driving on ramps, bridges, and unpassable roads.

Trapped under debris — Do not light matches, move around, or kick up dust. Cover your mouth with cloth to avoid dust inhalation. Use a whistle if available to call for help, minimize yelling for help as it may cause dust inhalation, and tap on any nearby pipes to alert rescuers of your presence.

Sources:
State of CA – Dept. of Conservation
FEMA

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