Tag Archives: Earthquake

  • Can Animals Predict Earthquakes?

    When it comes to natural disasters, early warning systems are literal lifesavers. That’s why seismologists and earthquake engineers have spent decades trying to identify early predictors of earthquakes—without much luck, unfortunately. But while seismographic technology gets fancier and more expensive, one group of researchers is taking a different tack.

     

    Multicoloured cute kitty in karate style jump positionFolk wisdom has long held that animals exhibit unusual behavior prior to an earthquake. The US Geological Survey helpfully reminds us that animals do weird things for lots of unexplained reasons (why, for example, does the neighbor’s cat single me out for cuddles when I’m the only allergic person in the room?). A newly published study documents just such unusual behavior in Peru’s Yanachaga National Park the week before a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Evidence of this unusual behavior came through the park's motion triggered cameras:

     

    "[It was] determined that the park's cameras traditionally see between five and 15 animals in one day. However, a whole week before the earthquake struck, that number dramatically dropped, with five or fewer animals spotted by any one camera five to seven days before the quake."

     

    Unusual indeed.

     

    The science seems sound: pressure built up before an earthquake sends an electric charge through layers of rock, which is released into the air at the surface, causing the ionization of air molecules. Ionization can affect serotonin levels in mammals, and while a little serotonin feels pretty good (that’s the chemical in our brain that contributes to feelings of happiness and relaxation), too much serotonin can have the opposite affect. Researchers hypothesize that animals suffering from nausea or restlessness associated with too much serotonin in an earthquake prone area will move to a place with less charged air—which is exactly what happened on camera in Peru.

     

    All this is fantastically exciting when it comes to earthquake prediction, but it’s not exactly practical information yet. Unless you have a convenient way to monitor your dog’s serotonin levels, you might be better off focusing on preparedness, rather than prediction—especially if you live in an area prone to earthquakes. Here are a few ways we can use our resources to plan ahead for the Big One.

     

    Have a plan. As with any disaster, the most crucial tool in our toolbox is a plan. Know the safest place to hunker down in your house. Know how to contact family members at work or school. Know where you’ll all meet when it’s over. And make sure kids practice the plan until it’s second nature.

     

    Get gear. We all know we need to have an emergency kit. If you live in earthquake country, there may be more specific items you should have handy. Consider storing things like heavy-duty work gloves and boots, dust masks, and insurance information. It’s also smart to keep shoes and a flashlight by every bed, in the event of a nighttime tremor.

     

    Secure your space. Many of the injuries sustained during an earthquake are not from collapsing structures, but from broken glass and falling objects. Heavy furniture—and especially top-heavy pieces—should be bolted to walls; items on bookshelves can be stabilized with putty; and heavy wall art or mirrors or shelves should never hang over beds and couches. Additionally, know how to shut off gas and water, and make sure any structural cracks or leaks are repaired.

     

    Be your own best resource. No early warning system is as reliable as good, old-fashioned know-how. Become an expert in earthquake protocols. Learn CPR. Head up a community response team. Practice earthquake drills. And read up on engineering codes for your area to make sure your family and neighborhood are safe.

     

    Have you experienced an earthquake? What are your best tips for earthquake prep?

     

     

     

    References:

     

    http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/13766/20150330/animals-still-best-earthquake-warning-system-weve.htm

     

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007272.htm

     

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364682609001837

     

    https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/earthquakes.html

     

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/megaqk_facts_fantasy.php

     

    http://earthquakecountry.org/sevensteps/

     

    http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes

     

    http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/earthquake

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: predict, Prepare, Earthquake, animals

  • 3 Simple Lists for Earthquake Preparedness

    If an earthquake rocks your city, will you have prepared yourself, your family, and your home for life after the quake? Knowing what to do before, during, and after an earthquake is essential. FEMA.gov has a prepared a comprehensive list of earthquake preparedness items from which I borrow.

     

    Before The Quake

    First and foremost, prepare your family. 72-hour kits are a must have for any disaster. Your 72-hour kit should supply you with enough resources so you and your family will make it through the first three days following a major earthquake. A good kit includes:

    • Emergency ChecklistWater
    • Non-perishable food (MREs are always a good 72-hour kit option)
    • First aid kit
    • Blanket (keeps out the cold, can be used as an impromptu shelter)
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Books, toys, games for kids (OK, and for adults, too. Don’t forget my Star Wars toys!)
    • Complete change of clothing
    • Portable radio (runs on batteries or other alternate source of energy, such as solar or hand-crank)
    • Important documents and cash (ATMs and bank systems may be offline)
    • Special needs (diapers, medications, prescriptions, etc.)

     

    Of course, there are many other things you could put in your emergency 72-hour kit. For a more in-depth look at what you could put in your 72-hour kit, check out ready.gov’s list for a basic disaster supplies kit. Or, take a look at some of our pre-built emergency kits and specialized disaster kits, such as our earthquake emergency kit.

    Also before an earthquake, make sure you secure anything that could tumble to the ground. This includes TVs, microwaves, computers, and other electronics. Don’t forget to anchor your bookshelves to the walls. Other things to anchor securely are filing cabinets, china cabinets, and tall furniture. Avoid placing heavy objects about your bed or other areas in which you may be sitting. For a full list of ways to prepare before an earthquake, ready.gov has a great article you can look into.

     

    During the Quake

    Nessie I said "Nelly", not "Nessie"!

    As the saying goes, “Drop, cover, and hold on, Nelly!”

    This is fairly self-explanatory (except for maybe who Nelly is). Basically, you’ll want to:

    • Drop to your hands and knees.
    • Cover your head and neck with your arms. This will help protect you from falling objects.
    • Hold on to anything sturdy until the shaking stops (Let me clarify – until the earth stops shaking. You might be shaking for a while afterwards. That is called adrenaline and is normal.)
    • Stay away from windows, glass, and anything that could fall (ie. light fixtures and furniture)
    • If you are trapped under debris:
      • Do not light a match.
      • Use clothing or handkerchief to cover your mouth to avoid breathing in dust and other debris.
    • If you are in a car, stay inside until the tremors are over.

     

    After the Quake

    Although the earthquake has stopped, there are still dangers. Make sure you proceed with caution in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

    • After Quake SafteyCheck for injuries.
    • Wear shoes to avoid cutting your feet on broken glass or other debris.
    • Do not turn on lights or use electrical appliances inside your home until you know there is no gas leak. When using a flashlight, turn it on outside the home (flashlight battery could create a spark that could ignite gas if there is a leak).
    • Use cellular network to communicate. Texting can sometimes get through busy networks where phone calls fail.

     

    Of course, there are always more things to be aware of and keep in mind than what any one person can write down. By using caution you can avoid other unpleasantries and injuries, so be sure to stop and think about the safest way to approach each scenario as you come to them.

    Earthquakes can be devastating, but with the proper preparation and knowledge, you can still be safe and comfortable during the days that follow. Take the time to prepare now, so when an earthquake does happen, you will be ready and able to help yourself, your family, and your community.

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: what to do, Earthquake, emergency preparedness

  • 2 Things Japan Teaches Us About Disaster Preparation

    Dark water surges from the sea, the 40 meter wave crashing down upon anything that stands in its way. Streets become rushing rivers, and then an extension of the ocean itself. Boats take to the flooded streets, belly up as they careen through the city. Entire buildings are uprooted from their foundation, tossed and battered as the tsunami waves push them farther and farther away from where they had once rested.

    This may sound like something out of a fantasy novel (because really, a 40 meter wave?), but this is exactly what happened to Japan only four years ago. This video gives you just a taste of the destruction that took place:

     

     

    The Great East Japan Earthquake How do you prepare for the unexpected?

    Four years ago, Japan was rocked by the Great East Japan Earthquake – a 9.0 magnitude – which was followed by a devastating tsunami. Now, the effected regions have had time to recoup and rebuild. Japan is now teaching the world what it’s learned from this disaster.

    Every 10 years, the United Nations holds a World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. This year it was hosted in Japan. In particular, the conference was held in Sendai, which, according to the Japan Times, “is a city that is synonymous with resilience to disasters for its remarkable recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.”

    There are two things in particular that stand out from what Japan is trying to do.

    1. Cost effective prior investment
    2. “Building back better” (creating nations and regions that are more resilient than they were before the disaster)

     

    Cost Effective Prior Investment

    I think the key words here are “prior investment.” Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, the government took aims to make their nation safer when it comes to disasters.

    Richter ScaleThis earthquake registered at 9.0 on the Richter scale, and when talking about it they use words like “unpredictable.” But guess what? It happened anyway, predictable or not. However, despite the unexpected quake, Japan already had preparations in place. Well, maybe not for a 9.0, but they get a 7.0 or 8.0 about once a decade, so earthquakes are something they have prepared for. That’s why they’re urging other nations to get prepared, just in case one of these “unpredictable” disasters strikes again. If something of this magnitude doesn’t strike, there are bound to be other disasters instead. As the saying goes, prepare for the worse, hope for a lesser disaster instead (or something to that effect).

    Japan has also put into place a Disaster Prevention Law. Don’t be fooled, this law isn’t to meant to illegalize disasters (thereby reducing them through incarceration), but to find ways to make them less devastating. One way is through construction. Their high-rises sway like trees when the ground starts shaking. Because of their construction requirements, these buildings can withstand heavy quakes, thus saving countless lives within the buildings. Another way Japan prepares is by having homes and businesses stockpile food and water.

    Sound familiar?

    We talk all the time about storing food and water for those “unpredictable” moments. Fortunately for Japan, it was before the disaster that these preventative measures were put into place. If they had waited until after this massive disaster, many more lives would have been lost. Of course, we’re talking about a global scale here, but we can definitely shrink it down to fit your personal life.

    Tsunami Evac Tower (nikkei) Do you know where you can go when disaster strikes?

    For example, how can “prior investment” relate to you? Well, in the same way the Japanese are gathering a supply of food and water for emergencies, can you do the same? Japan has also constructed tsunami evacuation towers to give people a place for refuge during such storms. Do you have your own personal evacuation tower? Where will you go when your tsunami crashes against you? Do you have preventative measures in place to weaken the blow, or lessen the damage?

    Prior Investment now is the only way you will weather an earthquake, hurricane, accident, job loss, or any form of disaster that could affect you.

    There are several ways to get started with your prior investment. Here are some pre-storm preparations to consider:

    1. Emergency kits
    2. First aid kits
    3. Food storage
    4. Water storage
    5. Contingency plan

    There are many different kits available (pre-made) for your convenience, and at a good price. There are also plenty of individual kit items available, so you can build your own kits or add to existing ones (check out the links above for options and ideas).

    There is time to prepare before those “unexpected” disasters strike. That time is now.

     

    “Building Back Better”

    OK, so maybe you were caught off guard when disaster struck. What should you do now?

    Well, I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do. You shouldn’t sit around thinking lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. Just ask the folks in Kissimmee, Florida who had three hurricanes pass through in 2004, or the people in Moore Oklahoma, today digging out from their second tornado in less than 2 years. These are people committed to “Building Back Better.” We should be, too.

    Lightning ThunderThe odds of you getting struck by lightning twice is statistically very low, and the odds of you getting struck even once in your lifetime is 1 in 3000. So if it can happen once, it can happen again. Remember Japan’s 9.0 earthquake? The odds of an earthquake of that magnitude occurring was once in several centuries. Who could have seen that one coming! But come it did. Just because the odds are in your favor, it doesn’t mean you’ll come out the victor.

    When it comes to “building back better,” take a look at Japan’s example. They have become the leaders in helping countries be prepared for disaster.

    There is a saying that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

    I’d like to change that up, if I could, to something a little more…human:

    “Fool me once, shame on me for not preparing for it in the first place. Fool me twice…well, maybe I’ll get lucky? I hope.”

    We should never let ourselves be fooled, not even once. It shouldn’t happen, since we can all be prepared for anything. But being fooled twice is downright unacceptable. We need to learn from the past, be it our own or the past of others, like Japan. Lightning has struck in the same place twice, after all (or for one (un)lucky man, seven times).

    We can learn a lot from The Great East Japan Earthquake. If you’re prepared before unforeseen disaster strikes, you will be so much better off. If you haven’t prepared…it’s time to take the next step and begin working on preparing yourself and your family.

     

    Has disaster ever caught you unawares? What happened? Looking back, what could you have done better? Share with us your experiences!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: be prepared, Japan, Tsunami, Earthquake, emergency preparedness

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