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If the Ground Moves, it's an Earthquake

Tremors in our part of the world are overdue.
Don't panic – be prepared

 The first seconds are critical, with the greatest chance of survival. Don't wait – keep your cool and react quickly

HERE are the instructions that appear on the website of the Home Front Command on how to prepare for an earthquake, what actions to take during an earthquake and proper action to take after an earthquake.

Structural resistance of the building BUILDING collapse is the principle cause of injury in an earthquake. The most important way of preventing loss of life and property damage in an earthquake is to ensure that the building we live in is earthquake proof. It pays to consult a structural engineer with the appropriate training, if the house we live in complies with the Israeli Standard for Structural Resistance to Earthquakes (IS 413).

■ Buildings constructed before 1980 apparently do not conform to this Standard and we must take measures to reinforce them as quickly as possible.

■ Buildings constructed after 1980 are built in conformance with the Standard for Resistance to Earthquakes and should be able to withstand an earth tremor.

■ Buildings with a secure space (Mamad) are in better condition to withstand an earthquake. The national plan for reinforcement of buildings to withstand earthquakes (Tama 38) establishes a legal framework for the issue of building permits, to make buildings earthquake-proof, and encourages compliance with the plan by awarding additional building rights for the purpose of financing, if only partially, the reinforcement of buildings.

Buildings constructed on the basis of building permits issued before 1.1.1980 are entitled to the benefit of additional building rights according to Tama 38.

Preparing the building

Injury to people during an earthquake is caused, in many cases, by the collapse of heavy shelves and objects, slivers of broken glass, fire and leaking gas. It is therefore smart, right from the present, to:

■ Move pictures or shelves hanging above beds of the family members that may endanger them while they sleep.

■ Ensure that any new attachments to the walls or ceiling – shelves, air conditioners or other objects – are properly fastened.

■ Secure objects already attached to the walls: bookshelves, television, and other kinds of shelves.

■ Provide strong support for hot water hearers, solar heaters, propane gas tanks, air conditioners and compressors.

■ Store inflammable and poisonous substances in a locked room, far from any source of heat.

■ Keep heavy objects low down.

Basic family drills

■ Together with other members of your family and in accordance with the instructions listed above, choose in advance a secure place in the house and also at work that you will go to in the event of an earthquake. For example, a Mamad, a stairwell in a multi-story building, an open area in a one-family home or ground floor apartment.

■ Show all members of the family where the main electrical switches and gas and water supply cocks are, and then practice opening and closing them.

■ Decide on a place in an open area where the family will meet. Decide on a contact person outside the family to whom you can all turn in case of a breakdown in communications.

■ From time to time, it is a good idea to hold a family exercise in earthquake preparedness.

Family emergency equipment and supplies

It is a good idea to prepare emergency equipment and supplies and to keep them in an accessible place, such as in the secure space. The equipment should include:

■ Water and food – Stock up on water (at least 4 liters per person) and canned food (of the kind you have in the house in any case). Be sure to replenish or replace the food and water before they reach expiration date.

■ Essential equipment – First aid kit, battery-operated flashlight (torch) and radio, medications, spare eyeglasses, baby equipment.

■ Important documents – photocopy or digital scan of medical documents, identification papers, personal papers and financial papers to be kept in a different place, outside the home – as backup.

How do we know that an earthquake is beginning?

When an earthquake occurs you feel as if the earth is rumbling under your feet, the windows rattle in their frames, loose objects and furniture begin to move around in a strange way, hanging lamps sway back and forth, and the quaking makes it difficult to walk or retain stability. It feels as if we are standing on a ship at sea, rising and sinking on the waves. The first seconds are critical, with the greatest chance of survival. Don't wait – keep your cool and react quickly.

Proper action to take during an earthquake

If you are inside a building and feel that the earth is trembling under your feet, go quickly to a safe place – according to the following order of priorities:

1. Open space – If you can get out of the building within seconds, get out and go to an open area (especially if you are in a one-family home or ground floor apartment).

2. If you can't get out of the building quickly – enter the secure space (Mamad). Leave the Mamad door open.

3. If you can't get out of the building quickly and there is no secure space – go to the stairwell and if possible descend to an exit from the building.

4. Only if you can do none of these things – take shelter under a piece of heavy furniture or sit on the floor next to an interior wall.

If you are outside

■ Remain in an open area and stay away from buildings, bridges and electric poles. If you are at the seashore

■ If you are at the seashore when an earthquake occurs leave the area immediately, for fear of being dragged away by a tsunami. Get at least a kilometer away from the seashore.

■ Anybody who cannot leave the seashore should go up to at least the fourth floor of any nearby building.

■ Do not return to the seashore for at least 12 hours after the end of the earthquake. A sudden and rapid withdrawal of the water is a sign of an approaching tsunami.

Additional instructions

■ Before leaving the building, close electric switches and gas cocks.

■ On your way to the secure space, stay away from the exterior walls of the building, from windows and from shelves.

■ Do not use the elevator during or after an earthquake – you might get stuck inside it.

■ If you are in a wheelchair – lock it and protect your head (after you have reached a secure space).

You are in a moving vehicle during an earthquake: Ensure you do the following:

■ Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

■ Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

Proper action to take after an earthquake

■ Do not use a gas flame or electricity of any kind (including cell phones) for fear of explosion due to leaking gas.

■ Leave the building and remain in an open area, far from the building.

■ Before leaving the building, disconnect the apartment's cooking gas supply line and main electric breaker (switch). It is also advisable to disconnect the cooking gas supply line and main electric breaker of the entire building. The gas supply and electricity will be reconnected only by an authorized technician and only after it is determined that the gas supply system and the gas cocks to all consumers in the building are in operating condition and closed.

■ Entry into any building that has been damaged is prohibited without the approval of a structural engineer (except for rescue operations).

■ Listen to the radio (in a car, for example) for information and instructions.

Trapped under rubble

■ If people are trapped under the rubble in your immediate vicinity, use household tools, with proper judgment, to lift heavy objects, such as a car jack or an iron rod. If possible, provide first aid.

■ If you are trapped under the rubble yourself, try to get out. Use an item of clothing to cover your nose and mouth to prevent breathing dust, and avoid exhausting yourself by shouting. Bang on a pipe or walls to help the search and rescue people find you. Do not light a flame.

Be prepared for aftershocks

These shocks occur minutes, days or months after an earthquake and can collapse buildings that have been weakened by the initial earthquake.



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Wednesday, 17 July 2024

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