Just the term “earthquake” can cause a fear reaction in many people, particularly those that have already been through one. When the ground starts trembling and buildings begin shaking, it is one of the most horrifying experiences imaginable.
An earthquake is known by several names including a tremor, a temblor or even just the shortened version of the full word called a “quake.” Although an earthquake can occur virtually anywhere, they are most common around an area that has a fault line. These fault lines or fault planes are literally cracks in the earth’s surface that have become unstable due to shifting of the earth’s crust. Each time energy is released from the earth, the fault lines grind together and shift to release the built-up energy. This energy release of the crust is what causes an earthquake to happen.
Some of the most common areas where earthquakes occur are the entire west coast of the North American continent, in and around the Mediterranean, through the region of the Himalaya mountains and the entire east coast of the Pacific Ocean from Japan down to New Zealand.
Living Through an Earthquake
This is a quote from Eric W Clark, after he survived the great Alaskan earthquake of 1964. Although it has been 50 years since then, his words are no less chilling and the experience he writes of is no less frightening.
“As we were making our way out through the small kitchen and out the back door the house would sway and roll with the ground waves. It was difficult to stand up much less walk.
As the house would roll in one direction the kitchen cabinets and cupboards would open and dishes and pots and pans would fly out, then the house would roll to the other side and those cabinets and cupboards would close and the cabinets and cupboards on the other side would open and boxed and can goods would fly out.
The earthquake seemed to go on forever but it did stop, it did leave me with a lifetime fear of earthquakes and it has been only in the last 8-10 years when we have an earthquake at night where I don’t wake up and bolt out of bed yelling EARTHQUAKE start to run for the door, now I just wake up and wait for it to stop.”
Surviving an Earthquake
Most earthquakes are minor tremors which make the earth shake a bit, then slowly fade away. These are actually very common and several hundred of these types happen everyday throughout the world. It’s the “big one” that can be devastating, and those are the ones to prepare for in case you find yourself in the middle of one. Here are some ways to survive
- Stay indoors if you are already there – Crouch beneath a table, go under the bed, or stand next to an interior wall. Many people are injured rushing to get outdoors when a quake hits. If you are inside, stay there and seek a place where you will be safe. NEVER stand in a doorway. In many cases, the door itself will literally slam back and forth from the earthquakes power, and you could be seriously injured by the swinging door.
- Stay outdoors if you are already there – Never run inside of a building during an earthquake. In fact, get as far away from any building you are near. The safest place to be outdoors is in the middle of a field with no trees, wires or buildings around you.
- Pull your car off the road into an open area – Never park it under a bridge or an overpass, stay away from trees, overhead power lines, street signs and buildings.
- Stay calm and do not panic in public – Rushing for exits in a public place can become a trap. Always stay calm and keep focused on what is going on around you. Cover your head and neck and stay as low as possible.
The Earthquake Lifestyle
If you live in an area that has frequent earthquakes, you will always want to have a supply of food and water, just in case. An earthquake can knock out power and water for days and sometimes weeks at a time. Always be prepared and take precautions, especially if you live in an earthquake zone.
Earthquake devastation in Mexico