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How to stay safe in case of earthquake

Monday March 25 2019

A picture showing a damaged mosque and houses

A picture showing a damaged mosque and houses in Palu, Indonesia on October 7, 2018 following an earthquake and tsunami in September. PHOTO | OLA GONDRONK | AFP 

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So when an earth tremor rocked several Kenyan counties, including the capital Nairobi, some of the affected people said they ran out of their houses.

While this is one of the obvious and expected reactions, is it safe?

Just what should you do if the tremors return? Below are some of the recommended safety precautions:

  • If you’re indoors, stand against a wall near the centre of the building, in a doorway, or crawl under heavy furniture.
  • While taking cover under tables, be prepared to hold on until the shaking stops. Stay down there until the shaking stops and it is safe to exit.

  • Stay away from windows and outside doors as much as possible.

  • Turn off gas, water, and electricity supplies. This helps to avoid sparks that may lead to a fire.

  • If outdoors, stay in the open away from power lines or anything that might fall. Avoid staying near buildings.

  • If you are in a car, stop and stay inside the car until the earthquake stops. You can also drive to a clear place and stay in the car until the shaking stops. After the earthquake, it is essential to check yourself and others for injuries. Provide first aid for anyone who needs it.

  • If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.

  • If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.

  • If you live in areas prone to quakes, make sure you have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries at home.

  • Offload shelves with heavy objects which would fall and cause injury during the earthquake.

  • After the quake, check water, gas, and electric lines for damage. If any are damaged, shut off the valves. Check for the smell of gas. If you smell it, open all the windows and doors, leave immediately, and report it to the authorities.

  • Turn on the radio for updates. Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency because with the recent technology upgrades phones with flickering lights produce radiations that could spark a fire.

  • While constructing in quake-prone regions, a research desk at Amboise Tezenas Institute advices that you consult a professional to learn how to make your home sturdier, such as bolting bookcases to wall studs, installing strong latches on cupboards, and strapping the water heater to wall studs.

  • Also, locate a place in each room of the house that you can go to in case of an earthquake. It should be a spot where nothing is likely to fall on you, like a doorframe.

  • If you expect the quake to persist, keep a supply of canned food, an up-to-date first aid kit, water, dust masks and goggles, and a working battery-operated radio and flashlights in an accessible place.

  • Know how to turn off your gas and water mains. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.