The major earthquake and its aftershocks that we experienced last month took us all by surprise. It was the strongest earthquake that Trinidad and Tobago has experienced in living memory. Images and video of the damage and how people reacted, quickly began circulating and seemed almost surreal, like something out of a movie. For the days following the earthquake, it seemed as if everyone was on edge – the paranoia was real.
Considering this, we thought that it a good idea to do a quick refresher on what to do in case of an earthquake.
Drop-Cover-Hold On. This means getting below a sturdy piece of furniture like a desk or table and taking cover until it is safe to go outside. Be sure to cover your head and torso to prevent injury from falling debris and stay away from windows, light fixtures or other things that can break and fall on you. If you are inside a shopping mall, take cover inside the nearest store as this may provide additional protection.
If you find yourself in an elevator during an earthquake, hit the button for every floor and get off as soon as possible and then make your way to safety.
Remain outside and keep away from anything that may fall and cause injury, this includes buildings and other structures, utility poles, etc. If in a crowded area, be sure to take cover in a location where you will not be trampled, should a panic ensue. If you encounter a downed powerline, steer clear of it. As we are an island, Tsunamis following earthquakes are a very real threat. Should an earthquake occur while you are near the coast, make your way inland as quickly and as safely as possible.
Pull over if it is safe to do so and ensure that you leave the road clear for emergency vehicles to get through. Avoid pulling over beneath bridges, overpasses, etc. as these are a major risk during an earthquake. Remain in your vehicle and listen to the radio for any emergency information that is relayed. Should a power line fall onto your vehicle, do not attempt to get out and remove it, wait for help to arrive.