Living with the Threat of Earthquakes


Earthquakes are a natural phenomenon that we have to contend with living in an archipelago such as the Philippines. City dwellers in Metro Manila are all the more on the edge these days with concerns about living in condominium buildings, apartments and other high-rise structures. However, more than being faced with fear, now is a time to be equipped with the proper knowledge and understanding of such occurrences.

Earthquakes are generally caused by the movement of geological fault lines or places where there is a discontinuity in the solid mass of rocks that make up the earth’s surface. It can also be caused by volcanic activity and other instances such as landslides or even human activity like mine blasting or nuclear testing. Earthquakes are called such because they are characterized by the shaking of the surface of the earth, which are in turn manifested through the subsequent movement of people, objects and structures on the earth’s surface.

There are certain regions in the world that are more prone to earthquakes than others, being located in seismic zones. Countries such as Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Pakistan, India and Nepal have been identified as places where earthquakes have occurred the most, along with the Philippines. Japan tops the list as the most earthquake-prone country.

Given such information, the best solution for such countries is to enhance their disaster preparedness. The only sure thing about earthquakes is that they cannot be predicted—thus, fear in anticipating it is not only useless but counter-productive. Rather than waste time panicking or speculating about when an earthquake may strike, citizens should be prepared through proper training on how to behave during an earthquake.

Experts have repeatedly taught the routine of “duck, hold and cover” in case of an earthquake. Especially if one is inside a building, the instinct to scramble and run should be avoided. This not only causes panic and confusion, but instead decreases one’s chances of survival. Keep in mind that it is not the earthquake itself that kills people, but the situations that people find themselves in during an earthquake such as being hit by falling debris or being trapped in passageways.

Thus, the best way to act during an earthquake is to remain calm and secure one’s self in a covered area such as under a sturdy table. Wait out the tremor no matter how long it may seem—experts say earthquakes generally last no longer than a minute. Exit and evacuation should only be carried out once the shaking has subsided.

People living in condominiums or working in high-rise buildings may be naturally concerned, but with proper presence of mind, enduring an earthquake should be successful. Modern infrastructure and technology has enabled real estate developers to incorporate numerous safety features and precautionary measures in constructing buildings, so there is little to worry about especially if the building one inhabits is made adhering to building code standards. The real key to surviving an earthquake is mental alertness and a calm attitude.

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