An earthquake is a natural disaster that is considered one of the most destructive forces in the world. To understand why the ground tends to shake, it is important to understand the forces of nature at work.
Beneath the Earth’s surface are huge masses called tectonic plates. These plates are separated by fault lines. These plates constantly move though we hardly feel it. An earthquake will occur if two plates push against each other. At some point, one will slip and release energy that will cause the surface to shake; the greater the energy, the greater the earthquake and the more destructive it is. The strength of an earthquake is measured through the Mercali and Richter Scale.
If an earthquake takes place under the sea, it can trigger a tsunami. The upheaval of the seabed will displace the water and the greater the tremor, the more destructive the tsunami and can pose a danger to coastal areas.
Earthquakes can also happen whenever there is volcanic activity. When pressure builds up inside a volcano, it can also generate earthquakes.
Why Does the Philippines Experience Earthquakes?
The Philippines is situated in what is called the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” This area has very active plates that trigger numerous earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Can We Predict an Earthquake?
Unfortunately, we cannot. Even though seismologists look for patters caused by recent earthquakes, there is no guarantee they can accurately predict when or where the next one will occur.
What Can We Do?
Given the above situation, the only thing we can do is prepare accordingly.
- Be familiar with your locale. Try to know if a fault line runs along your area. Fault lines are often the places where earthquakes originate.
- If you are at the stage of having a home or building built, make sure it is “earthquake-proof.” This can be done by making sure the structure is standing on strong foundation. Structures built on weaker ones will collapse if a strong tremor occurs.
- In relation to the above pointer, if you are living in a condominium, take into consideration its strength and integrity to withstand an earthquake.
- Pay attention to scientists, not seers who claim an earthquake will happen on this day and time. As mentioned earlier, no one can accurately predict an earthquake. Do not even start or spread rumors of an earthquake. The only thing that will contribute is panic.
- Come up with an emergency plan with your family. There is a likelihood communication lines will be disrupted and it might be difficult to contact one another. Nonetheless, make sure your mobile phones are fully charged.
- Have an emergency “go bag” ready in case you might have to evacuate.
When an earthquake occurs:
- First and foremost is NEVER PANIC.
- Do the “Duck, Cover and Hold.” Get under a table or anything strong or sturdy to protect you from falling debris.
- Do not take the elevator. Take the stairs. Power may go out (and you may be stuck).
- If you are outside, head for an open area away from structures or electric poles. Do not enter a building.
- If you are driving, stop. Do not try to cross bridges.
- If you are in a coastal area, listen to tsunami warnings. If one is given, head for higher ground. One other way to know a tsunami is imminent is if the water suddenly recedes.
- If you are in a building and an earthquake stops, exit in an orderly manner.
One other thing, just because an earthquake stops does not mean it is totally over. Aftershocks often occur afterwards; some may be as strong as the quake that occurred. Take the same above precautions.
In reality, there is nothing much we can do as far as stopping or preventing an earthquake. It is a natural phenomenon and it is unfortunate we are caught up in this natural process of the constant movement beneath the Earth’s surface. A tremor can happen anytime. The best we can do is prepare but in doing so, stay mentally alert at all times and never lose composure if and when it happens.
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