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Editorial | Keeping safe during earthquakes

Since the country is sitting in the Pacific Ring of Fire which is the area where 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur, this means we do have quakes very often though we mostly do not feel it.  The Ring of Fire is where intense seismic activity happens that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

Yesterday, an intensity 4.7 quake hit Davao Oriental, a day after a 6.5 magnitude quake Leyte and two days after the 6.1 quake hit Luzon.  Some people in these areas are still feared to be buried under toppled buildings and rescue operations continue with great urgency.

What we can do to mitigate injuries or even deaths during tremors is to learn how to stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. The city’s disaster risk reduction and management office has been consistently informing people in establishments on what to do during earthquakes. Simulation exercises are done regularly in schools and buildings so people will have muscle memory and would know what to do when disaster strikes.

Some basic lifesaving tips are as follows: When you feel an earthquake, duck under a desk or sturdy table. Stay away from windows, bookcases, file cabinets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants, and other heavy objects that could fall. Watch out for falling plaster and ceiling tiles. Stay undercover until the shaking stops and hold onto your cover. If it moves, move with it.

DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave. Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on. DO NOT use the elevators.

If you are in a HIGH-RISE BUILDING, and not near a desk or table, move against an interior wall and protect your head with your arms. Stay indoors. Glass windows can dislodge during the quake and sail for hundreds of feet. If you’re in a CROWDED STORE OR OTHER PUBLIC PLACE, do not rush for exits. Move away from display shelves containing objects that could fall.

Most of all, try not to panic. This might be easier said than done but let us try keep calm when disaster strikes.

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