You might know that Torrevieja is located in a seismic zone, which means there is a risk of earthquakes. If you live in the area, you probably felt the tremor of last Sunday; although fortunately this did not produce much damage, there have been much worse cases (the most well-known being the infamous earthquake of 1829, known as the Torrevieja earthquake).
Unlike other natural disasters, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, an earthquake can’t be predicted. That’s why it’s best to be prepared, and know what to do when it happens. In this post we tell you how.
How to prepare?
One of the most useful things when it comes to dealing with an earthquake is to know first aid. Not only will it allow you to lend a helping hand to those who need it or take care of yourself, but it will also help you stay calm, because you will know what to do.
In addition, it’s convenient that you learn to turn off the gas, water and electricity in your house, to avoid associated disasters, and to plan with your family a place to meet you in the house during the earthquake, so that no one is left alone.
Prepare your home for the event; don’t leave anything heavy in the upper area of your shelves and cabinets, as it can fall during the earthquake, and make sure all heavy furniture, cabinets and appliances are anchored to the wall. It’s also good to have an extinguisher, a first aid kit and a flashlight with batteries to spare, just in case you need them.
Finally, you should learn where the emergency exits are at your place of work or studies, just in case the earthquake doesn’t catch you at home.
What to do during the earthquake when you are at home?
The most important thing is to stay calm, and remember these three steps: Drop, cover, and wait. If you are at home, stay indoors; look for a place to protect yourself from the possible fall of debris, such as under a table, and stay there until the tremors end. Try to stay away from shelves and other furniture that may fall on you, and also from windows and lamps.
If you are in a wheelchair, look for a safe place and block the wheels. If you can’t go to a safe place, stay where you are and cover your head and neck with your arms.
Do not try to go outside, or even move to another room; earthquake tremors can cause you to trip, or you can encounter falling objects and debris that can cause serious damage.
Do not stand under a door either; although the idea that it is the safest place in an earthquake is quite widespread, today all the walls of the house are equally strong, so the wall of the door has the same chance of falling on you as the rest. Under the table is the safest option.
What happens if you’re not at home?
If you are inside a building, most steps of the previous point are applicable to any building. In many places of work, as well as in schools, there are procedures in case of disaster; if you know them, follow them. When it’s time to return home, try to walk if possible. If not, look for a safe place to go, or consider staying where you are a little longer.
If the earthquake happens when you are in the car, look for an area where there are no buildings, trees or poles if possible, park the car, and stay inside. The car can protect you from debris and other possible damage. Turn on the radio and try to stay informed to know when it is safe to drive again.
If you are simply outside, stay there. Buildings are more dangerous than the open field during an earthquake; stay away from anything that may fall on you (poles, trees, lampposts, etc.) and remain there until the tremors stop.
Usually, earthquakes are followed by aftershocks, and these can also be dangerous. Once the earthquake is over, it’s good to wait a bit to make sure everything is calm.
Check if you and whoever is with you are injured, and offer first aid to those who need it. Then, check the water, gas and electricity lines to see if they are damaged, and turn off what you have to turn off. If you smell gas, open all the windows and doors, leave, and tell the proper authorities.
Once you are sure you can move, exit the building and look for an open place, away from damaged buildings. Chances are the phone lines are saturated, so do not use the phone if it is not an emergency.
When leaving, get away from the beach; in Torrevieja we’ve never had a tsunami, but it is a possibility after an earthquake, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.