A 7.1 magnitude earthquake recently hit the east coast of New Zealand generating small tsunamis. There were aftershocks, with the latest at 5.1 magnitude, hitting central regions, such as Wellington and Auckland. But there were no reports of significant damage or injury as the impact was minimal.
The government is funding research and developments to improve the country’s earthquake and tsunami preparedness. In your own home, how aware are you of the “do’s and Don’ts” before, during and after an earthquake?
Before the earthquake
Do: Learn and share safety plans and evacuation strategies. Participate in government-sponsored disaster drills and in your local community. Organise disaster supplies, such as food, water, emergency equipment and a first aid kit.
Don’t: Avoid hanging or placing heavy objects on shelves and walls. Do not neglect important documents and keep them in a safe storage. Do not disregard infrastructure problems and have it checked or audited regularly.
During the earthquake
Do: “Drop, cover and hold.” If inside the house or building, go under strong furniture like a table or bed. And if outside, go to an open area or a clear spot, then stay there until the shaking stops. If in a mountainous area, be alert of falling debris or landslides.
Don’t: Do not go near mirrors, windows or hanging objects. Avoid getting close to buildings, power lines, trees and bridges. If situated in an upper storey of the building, do not use the lift to go down, but rather use the stairs.
After the earthquake
Do: Prepare for aftershocks and potential tsunamis. Check yourself for injuries and attend to the other injured as well. Get the latest news from the radio or use mobile phones to check for online updates. Examine the home or building for damages; if you see sparks or frayed wires, turn off the main fuse box and call 24-hour available electricians to fix them.
Don’t: If there is a gas leak, do not use any electrical appliances. Do not go near broken gas lines or fallen power lines.
Swarm of quakes
Earthquakes are a usual occurrence in New Zealand, since it is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form the part of the “Ring of Fire”. As a matter of fact, the country experiences 15,000 tremors a year.
This initiated the government to continue improving and developing facilities to predict the areas that would be prone to quakes and tsunamis. Currently, they have invested $6.5 million in scientific research to learn more about NZ’s largest source of geohazard, the Hikurangi tectonic plate.
Information and vigilance are the most important gear to have when disaster strikes. Whether the occurrence is normal or not, one must always exercise precaution.