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What to do in case of an earthquake: lessons from Ljubljana

What to do in case of an earthquake: lessons from Ljubljana

Some useful advice on how to prepare your home for such event and how to react if it happens

On Tuesday Croatia was shaken by an earthquake of magnitude 6.4, which followed a series of smaller earthquakes near the town of Petrinja. The largest event of this type in the country since the start of the year and the serious casualties, including at least seven dead, caused Mayor Darinko Dumbovic to declare that his town was destroyed.

Unfortunately, the timing of such natural disasters is very difficult to predict, although the country is known to be prone to earthquakes. In this context, the capital of neighbouring Slovenia decided to prepare its citizens in advance if such an unfortunate event occurs.

Here are some useful pieces of advice from Ljubljana on how to prepare for an earthquake and behave during and after one takes place.

Preparing for an earthquake

The only real protection before such a natural disaster hits is provided by the building which should be constructed in an earthquake-resistant manner. This might significantly reduce but not completely remove the possibility of future damages.

Hence, once should regularly inspect and maintain the building they live in and absolutely avoid interventions that might reduce its seismic protection, such as breaking down walls or making holes in load-bearing walls.

On an everyday level, one would do well to place large and heavy objects on the lower shelves of cabinets and screw the latter to the wall. Hanging pictures, mirrors, placing candlesticks or sharp objects above the bed or a desk is strongly discouraged as well.

Do not place any large objects such as boxes or cupboards near the exits and keep all valuable items in non-flammable boxes.

It is essential to identify the safe places of your home – these are under solid tables, between door frames of the load-bearing walls. Avoid chimneys, windows, glass surfaces, closets at all costs.

Also, discover in advance the places outside of your home where you can take refuge and agree with your family to meet there in case of an earthquake. Keep emergency equipment, clothes and food for 48 hours in storage.

Behaving safely during an earthquake

In the unfortunate event of an earthquake, it is important to stay calm and take refuge in the safest place in the room you are in until the shaking ends. Protect your head with your hands or other handy objects, but do not leave the building during the event as most injuries, happen near buildings due to falling parts of chimneys, roof tiles and glass.

If outdoors, stay away from buildings, billboards, traffic lights, public lighting lamps, electrical wires, power lines and other installations. If not possible, look for protection from falling objects inside buildings.

After the earthquake

Once the shaking ends, you should remain calm and evaluate the situation. In the best-case scenario, you are safe and sound and able to get into an open space. If this is so, make sure to take only the most necessary items (cloths, documents, blanket and medicines), leave the building and offer help to others, who might have trouble moving.

If the building is damaged, turn off all gas and electrical appliances and heating sources whose operation could cause a fire or explosion. Seek help by SMS and indicate your location, as mobile coverage might be too bad to make a call.

Check out the full list of recommendations on the Ljubljana website (in Slovenian) or find similar advice from your local or national authorities, as being informed is winning half the battle.

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