Seems like a lot of people enjoyed my previous Earthquake Myth post talking about how A Fault will Open Up and Swallow You. So I’m going to continue with the next one which is “You should stand in a doorway during an earthquake”.
A lot of you might have heard this and it’s based upon the assumption that a doorway is the strongest structure in your house. This came about when a photo of a collapsed adobe home (made of brick from earth, water, and clay) with only the door frame standing was spread after an earthquake in California. Now, the door frame may have been the most solid structure for an adobe home, but for modern homes and buildings they are no stronger than any other part of the house.
There are dangers when standing under a doorway during a major earthquake. Things will be shaking violently and chances are there will be objects flying around which may hit you and injure you or knock you down. If you’re standing up with your arms and legs out to stabilize yourself, you are giving a bigger target for things to hit you. Another thing is that the door can swing and slam into your hands or your body. Also consider that if you are in a building and you stand in a doorway, other people might try to get by you to get out (although you shouldn’t) and knock you down.
Modern buildings and homes are built to withstand an earthquake. Most earthquake affected regions even have laws where the developer has to make sure earthquake safety measures are considered before building a house. Chances are, if you live in a home built after 1992 your home is pretty solid. I say this because that was the year when more safety measures where first introduced in building codes. If you live in a home that was built before 1992, you might want to get it inspected just in case.
So now that we know that it’s a BAD thing to stand under a doorway during an earthquake, what’s the BEST thing?
The best thing to do is “DROP! COVER! HOLD ON!”. Which means:
- DROP – drop down to your hands and knees to prevent injury from the earthquake knocking you down.
- COVER – take cover under a sturdy desk or table. If there isn’t one near you, cover your face and head with your arms. Falling or flying objects are the most common causes of injury.
- HOLD ON – hold on to whatever is protecting you. The ground can shake violently causing a desk to move away and make you unprotected.
Learn more about Earthquake Preparedness here.
Hope you enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for the next earthquake myth!