ShakeOut was designed in California in 2008 by the Earthquake Country Alliance, as an effort by scientists and emergency managers to inform the public about earthquake preparedness. Their objective was to educate the public on how to protect themselves during a major earthquake and practice a drill to minimize human defeat. After its instigation, the ShakeOut has gained momentum world-wide, and has been conducted in many other seismically-active areas, including Western Canada, Western and Central USA, New Zealand, Guam, and now Central and South Asia.
This day is celebrated on the third Thursday of October every year. To highlight the importance of the day and to prepare for disastrous situation caused by earthquakes, millions of people perform drill at a specified time. This day primarily focuses on three key messages; Drop, Cover & Hold on. The inside philosophy is that different earthquake studies throughout the world has shown that human loss mainly occurs due to falling of untied objects which directly hit a delicate part of the body resulting harm to specific part or even cost of life. It hasn’t been further explored that the whole building rarely collapse during an earthquake rather unprepared procedures where people fall under traumatic situation causes major destructions, mainly to human lives.
The day is much more important to our country, mainly the part where we live. The geographical location reflects that the major part of our country lies under high and very high hazardous zone. Gilgit-Baltistan mainly falls under such dangerous zones where there are continuous moments of rocks and has been active since last many years. It has been perceived that different geological changes have occurred in the near past at various parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. For instance, rock falling and continuous quakes in Astore valley, existence of Ata Abad Lake, and destruction of water channel in Hunza Shinaki range now a day. Moreover, the inhabitants of the whole Gilgit-Baltistan also sense minor earthquakes in a year.
If we make a quick look into major earthquakes history in Pakistan, the picture is still alarming. Our country has been the victim of major earthquakes in the past, upsetting various regions. Most of the regions, i.e. Quetta, Peshawar, Kashmir, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan have experienced major destructions triggered by earthquakes. We cannot forget the ill scenario of 2005 Kashmir earthquake where thousands of people have lost their lives. Similar examples have also been reported in the past as well where human loss was quite visible due to major earthquakes.
It’s a fact that natural hazards happen in different regions of the world and dissimilar intervals. As a matter of fact we cannot control this natural phenomenon but there is possibility through which we can minimize the destruction, mainly to human beings. Apart from Drop, Cover and Hold-on drill, we can apply certain measures which could help us to reduce losses during earthquake tremors. Few of them are:
1. The most important thing to do during an earthquake is to remain CALM. If you can do so then you are less likely to be injured. Also, those around you will have a greater tendency to be cool if you are calm.
2. If you are indoors, stay there. Get under and hold onto a sturdy wooden desk or table until the shaking stops. Remember the earthquake safety code to Drop-Cover-Hold On.
3. Stay away from walls, glass, heavy furniture and electric appliances. The kitchen is a particularly dangerous spot.
4. Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. It is proved that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
5. As shaking stops, move to an open place away from buildings, trees and fallen electrical wires.
6. If you are in a high-rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Remain on the same floor and DO NOT use the elevator/stairs.
7. Use a doorway for shelter only if it is close to you and if you know it is strongly supported.
8. If you are in bed, stay in bed and protect your head with a pillow unless you are under a heavy light fixture, window or anything else that could fall.
9. If you are in office building, stay away from windows and outside walls.
10. If you are in a vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
To conclude, a prepared mind can well express a critical situation as compared to blank individual. To prepare for any worse scenario we need to pretend the happening and plan ourselves to handle the situation more meaningfully so that we can heighten survival chances.
The contributor is a faculty member at Professional Development Center North (PDCN), Gilgit. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org