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An Earthquake Strikes And You're In Bed. What Do You Do?!

Also: what to do when you're in the bathroom, in a stadium, or at the beach.

We were devastated by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Kathmandu, Nepal on April 25, 2015. Cultural heritage sites, homes, and lives were lost, and survivors now wonder how to move forward with hardly anything more than a destroyed city.

We can’t really tell when a major earthquake will hit an area, so it’s best to be prepared to increase your chances of survival without injuries.

WHEN THE GROUND STARTS TO SHAKE AND YOU ARE...

In bed:

1. Hold on to it and stay there.

2. Protect your head with a pillow.

DO NOT lie beside your bed. You can get injured by broken glass or objects that can slide to or fall on you.

In the bathroom:

1. Get down near an interior wall where nothing is likely to fall on you.

2. Cover your head and neck with your arms.

In the office:

1. Duck, take cover under your desk, and hold on.

DO NOT use the lifts.

In a stadium or theater:

1. Stay on your seat.

2. Protect your head and neck with your arms.

3. Leave only when the shaking is over. Watch out for debris that can still fall on you.

Outdoors:

1. Find a clear area away from buildings, trees, and power lines.

2. Drop to the ground or crouch. (Staying low keeps you from losing your balance.)

Near the shore:

1. Drop, cover, and hold.

2. If the strong shaking lasts for at least 20 seconds, evacuate to high ground (30 meters or 100 feet above sea level) or move 3 kilometers inland.

DO NOT drive so you can avoid road hazards.

In a car:

1. Slow down and drive to a clear area.

2. Stay in the car until the shaking stops.

DO NOT get out of the vehicle when a power line falls on it. (The car is grounded.)

EARTHQUAKE SAFETY MYTHS:

1. Triangle of life. A few years ago, it was advised to go next to the table or furniture (instead of under it) when the ground starts shaking. But this is based on the following INCORRECT assumptions:

Continue reading below ↓

- "When buildings collapse, all pieces of furniture will be crushed." WRONG. People have survived under furniture, which stayed intact.

- "The building will collapse flat." WRONG. This is a very rare case, and you can't predict how the collapse will be. The outcome depends on the direction of the shaking and the building's structure.

- "You can move to 'safer' spaces." WRONG. When the ground is shaking, it's difficult to move from one spot to another.

2. Running out of the building during the quake. DON'T DO THIS. Areas by the exterior walls of a building are the most dangerous places to be. These walls are the first parts of the structure to collapse. You might also get injured when you fall down or have objects thrown at you.

3. Standing in the doorway. DON'T DO THIS. This doesn’t protect you from falling or swinging objects anymore. And you won’t be able to brace yourself during a strong shake.

WHEN TO LEAVE A BUILDING:

When the shaking stops. If you can, bring with you a first aid kit, water, canned goods, dust mask, goggles, a battery-operated radio, and a flashlight.

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Sources: National Geographic; Earthquake Country (drop, cover, hold onStep 5), and Live Science.