Friday, August 01, 2008


In the aftermath of the moderate earthquake that jolted us Angelenos earlier this week, I’ve received a lot of earthquake preparedness emails and the like. One in particular grabbed my attention because it stated that the standard advice to stand in a doorway or get under a desk or table might actually kill you in an earthquake. Being in a major earthquake would be bad enough – without a doubt I would need clean underwear afterward. But I would like to know enough to actually survive the earthquake rather than being crushed to a paste under the desk I crawled under.

A group called the American Rescue Team advocates what they call the “triangle of life” to survive a disaster:

It is not the earthquake which kills you. Getting crushed under a squashed desk or table kills you.

Misinformation from bureaucrats or phony experts who have never crawled into a collapsed building kills you.

All rescuers agree: You can survive by fleeing the building if you can get out the ground floor or getting into a survivable void, next to a large, bulky object.

And Ten Tips:

1) Everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE is crushed to death -- Every time, without exception. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are always crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies all naturally often curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. The reason is simple: the wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed.

5) If an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Everybody who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the door jam falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible. It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles, says the author. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) Rescuers have discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.
I am not an expert, nor do I play one on TV. But this makes sense to me so I thought I would pass it along.

P.S. Still posting over here.


Cee in SF said...

This was very helpful. I've told the beau that this is the new earthquake plan and he is onboard!

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Glad to be of service!

Los Angelista said...

So helpful. I'm going to print that out! I guess running outside is not an option for us since we'd have to go down the stairs. I'd heard that you shouldn't go outside because of the danger of falling power wires. So much misinformation out there. And actually, at my kid's school they tell them to get under desks during the official earthquake drills. Hmm.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

LA: Yes, what is freaky is that if you go to the American Rescue Team site (which if you read in depth is admittedly on the kooky side, what with their calling those who would discredit them "evil"), you can read their recap of what happened at one school during an earthquake. I hate to say, they didn't find any kids alive under their desks.

Let's not focus on that, though. You should also look at the LA Fire Department's Website. They have an emergency preparedness guide as well:

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