What to Do Before, During, and After an Earthquake?

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, and the country sees earthquakes quite frequently. This is due to the country’s geographic location, which lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an area particularly prone to natural disasters. The worst part is earthquakes happen without warning.

The best way to deal with earthquakes is to be prepared. This comprehensive guide explains what to do before, during, and after the shaking starts.

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What Is the Earthquake?

Movements in Earth’s outermost layer cause an intense shaking of the planet’s surface. This results in an earthquake.

The Earth is made of four basic layers:

  1. Solid crust
  2. Hot, nearly solid mantle
  3. Liquid outer core
  4. Solid inner core

The crust and the mantle make up a region known as lithosphere, which is made up of gigantic tectonic plates. Tectonic plates keep shifting as they drift around on the viscous. The continuous, non-stop movement puts stress on Earth’s crust. When the stresses get too intensive, this results in cracks called faults. An earthquake results from sudden movement of Earth’s crust at a fault plane.

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What to Do Before an Earthquake?

As mentioned above, an earthquake happens without warning. But given that the Philippines is prone to frequent earthquakes, it’s best to be prepared in advance. Here is the step-by-step process for responding to an earthquake before it happens:

Step 1: Secure your space.

  • Shift large or heavy objects to low shelves or the floor.
  • Move items that can fall on you away from where you sleep, sit, or spend a lot of time.
  • Move heavy or unstable items away from escape routes.
  • Secure your water heater, top-heavy furniture, and appliances to wall studs. You can use metal straps for this purpose.
  • Bolt and brace items like pictures and mirrors.
  • Secure overhead light fixtures and free-standing wood stoves.
  • Use wax to keep small things from falling.
  • Install latches on kitchen cabinets.

Step 2: Prepare for safety.

  • Review and practice evacuation and earthquake plans.
  • Get a personalized readiness emergency kit.
  • Subscribe to local earthquake alerts as available.
  • Practice “Drop, Cover and Hold On.”
  • Pick safe spaces in every room, such as under desks.
  • Keep sturdy shoes and a flashlight handy for everyone.
  • Install a smoke alarm and fire extinguisher for your place.
  • Identify the needs of persons with special requirements, such as the use of a wheelchair, walking aids, medication, etc.
  • Be mindful of utility shutoffs, including gas, water, and electricity.
  • Pick a safe spot outside of the building after the shaking stops.
  • Keep copies of key documents, such as your national ID, insurance policies, and financial records, in a secure, waterproof grab-and-go folder.

Do everything you feel is necessary to keep you, your family, and everyone around you safe during the earthquake.

What to Do During an Earthquake?

  • Drop, Cover and Hold On while the earthquake is happening. Drop where you are, onto your knees and hands. Keep your body low and crawl to the shelter – a sturdy table or desk. If you find no nearby shelter, then crawl next to an interior wall. Stay on your knees and cover your head and most of the body with your hands to protect yourself from potential injuries.
  • In a bed: Stay there and lie your face down to safeguard vital organs. Cover your head with a pillow and stay in this position until the shaking stops.
  • High rise: Drop, Cover and Hold On. Do not use windows or elevators to escape.
  • Classroom: Drop, Cover and Hold On. Laboratories or other settings need special safety considerations.
  • In a store: Drop, Cover and Hold On. Go next to a shopping cart, beneath clothing racks, or stay within the first level of warehouse racks for extra protection.
  • Outdoors: Don’t try to go inside. Instead, run to a clear area. Avoid going near or under power lines, buildings, trees, vehicles, or other hazards. Then, Drop, Cover, and Hold On to keep from being hit by any objects.
  • Driving: Pull over to a clear area and stop. Avoid bridges, signs, power lines and other hazards. Put on your seatbelt, and stay inside the car until the shaking stops. Don’t go outside if a power line falls on the car, and wait until a trained person removes the wire.
  • Stadium or Theater: Drop to the ground or lean over. Then Cover your head with your arms, and use both hands to Hold On to your neck until shaking stops.
  • Near the Beach: Walk quickly to high ground as a tsunami may arrive soon. Don’t drive and avoid debris, traffic, and other hazards.

What to Do After an Earthquake?

  • The disaster may continue even after the shaking stops. Expect and be ready for potential aftershocks, tsunamis, or landslides.
  • In case of aftershocks, Drop, Cover and Hold on.
  • Injured? Get first aid immediately before helping others.
  • Stay away and out of damaged buildings.
  • Be careful around debris and broken glass. 
  • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, work gloves, and sturdy shoes to protect your feet.
  • Stay away from beaches as earthquakes may pose a risk of tsunamis and seiches after the Earth has stopped shaking.
  • Turn on the radio or visit local news channels for up-to-date information. 
  • Clean up spilled liquids immediately, especially other flammable fluids.
  • Watch out for fallen or broken trees, broken power lines, or broken gas lines.
  • Inspect your utilities for gas leaks, electrical system damage and sewage and water lines damage. If you smell gas, open all the doors and windows, and report it to the authorities.
  • Check for potential damage to the roof and the foundation of the building.
  • Avoid driving to provide sufficient space for emergency vehicles like fire brigades and emergency vehicles.
  • Open closets and cabinets carefully because items inside them may have shifted due to shaking. This may further injure you upon opening them.
  • If you get trapped under debris, avoid moving about. Cover your mouth with a piece of cloth. Then, tap on something to make a sound so that rescuers can locate you. Avoid shouting, as it can cause you to inhale dangerous dust and debris.

Is It Necessary to Buy a Portable Power Station in Case?

The quickest answer is – YES!

Following are the reasons a portable power station is one of the most important things when it comes to earthquake readiness:

  • Earthquakes may damage power stations, leading to prolonged power outages, which can make lives even more difficult. Having a portable power station means you have access to dependable electric supply.
  • Communication is important before, after and during a natural disaster. A portable power station ensures that your communication devices, especially your phone, are working all the time.
  • Your place remains lit enough to roam around easily without the risk of being hit by hazardous material spread around due to earthquakes.
  • The power supply is also necessary to gain essential information about the disaster.
  • In some cases, power supply also affects water supplies as they depend on electricity to operate pumps.

Just make sure you buy a reliable portable power station. For instance, the BLUETTI EB55 portable power station boasts a compact and lightweight design with a capacity of 537Wh and a built-in 700W (surge 1400W) string inverter. There are six ways to recharge the power station, including AC, solar, car, generator, AC + solar, and dual AC. It could run 13 devices at the same time, from smartphones to mini-fridges.

An alternative option is BLUETTI AC180 solar portable power with a 1,800W AC Output and 2,700W powerlifting mode. With a larger capacity of 1,152Wh, it can charge 11 output ports for multiple devices. There are four ways to recharge this portable power station: AC, car, solar, and generator. The BLUETTI App facilitates remote control and real-time monitoring. This is compact and portable, which means you can carry it around easily. Because of all these features, these portable power stations become a must-have device for your earthquake response plan.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Earthquake Preparedness?

Get involved in your community: Natural disasters like earthquakes not only affect you and your family but also the entire community. Everyone within the community relies on each other to recover from earthquakes, especially when it comes to the emotional aspect of the disaster. Lending helping hands to each other in one way or another accelerates the recovery process and eases the pain of loss or damage.

Get property insurance: Property insurance helps Filipinos protect their residences in the event of unexpected natural disasters including earthquakes. So, it’s wise to get property insurance timely, which may help lighten your potential financial burden caused by an earthquake.

Participate in earthquake drills: Join shake drills that are conducted by The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to be prepared to respond quickly and properly when an actual earthquake hits.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this earthquake preparedness guide helps you understand what to do in order to respond before, during and after an earthquake. Because the Philippines is prone to earthquakes, it’s important to be prepared to minimize potential risks to you, your family, and your possessions. Stay informed, stay safe!