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Drop, cover and hold!

Published:Saturday | February 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has advised the public that the drop, cover, and hold strategy is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes.

Earthquakes can happen at anytime, anywhere. When an earthquake strikes, you may have a few seconds between the realisation that this is an earthquake and the time when the shaking stops. This is when your advanced planning becomes important.

If you know what to expect and what to do, you can make the right decisions that may mean the difference between injury, life or death.

Take cover in the nearest space:

Take cover where you are. If you are outside during an earthquake, take cover there. Do not rush indoors or vice versa. Protect yourself from things that may fall on top of you, whether it is broken glass or a whole building. Once you take over in your safe place, stay there until the shaking stops; earthquakes seldom last longer than a minute, although it sometimes seems longer.

Doorway for protection:

If you are not near any sturdy furniture, take cover in a sturdy doorway. The extra construction around a door frame makes it one of the strongest parts of a building. Also, there is rarely anything over a doorway to fall on you. Avoid doorways, however, that have transoms or air conditioners above them.

Brace yourself in a doorway with your back against the hinges of the door, feet spread wide apart for balance, leaning across to hold on to the opposite side.

What to do before an earthquake:

Always have on hand emergency kits.

Practise earthquake drills at schools, homes and offices.

Look around your school, home and offices for things that could fall and injure you.

What to do during an earthquake:

Be calm. If you are inside, stay there.

Get under heavy furniture such as a sturdy desk or table.

Do not rush to exits.

If you are outside, stay there. Avoid the hazards, which could cause injury.

If you are in a vehicle, drive away from bridges and stop in the safest place possible.

What to do after an earthquake:

Evacuate the building immediately after the shaking stops.

Be prepared for additional aftershocks.

Listen to the radio and follow emergency instructions.

Remember, earthquakes cannot be predicted, therefore our vulnerability to earthquakes is always imminent. Preparation is the key.


Drop, cover and hold:

Practise the drop, cover and hold procedure until it becomes second nature:

get under a sturdy piece of furniture, making yourself into a little ball (do not go under beds or other objects that could collapse).

keep your head and eyes protected from falling or flying objects. Cover your head with one hand.

with your other hand, hold on to the piece of furniture. If it moves, move with it. Stay under shelter until you are sure the shaking has stopped.

If you cannot shelter under furniture or a doorway, move against an interior wall if you are indoors; drop, put your arms over your head and across the back of your neck for protection. If there is a book, pillow, tray or other protection at hand, hold it over your head and neck. It is better to break your arms than to have something fall on your head or neck, which will probably result in unconsciousness, paralysis, brain damage or death.

Stand in a doorway and brace

Brace yourself and try to hold off the door with your shoulder or hip and hold on tightly, feet spread wide apart for balance, leaning across to hold on to the opposite side. Beware of a door that can swing back and forth during an earthquake.