It is time to bundle up. A light northerly flow will keep the cold air in the region, and clearing skies with snow on the ground means some very cold overnight low temperatures. Expect the valley lows to drop into the single digits Saturday morning, and even though sunny skies should dominate the area Saturday during the day, high temperatures will likely stay just shy of the freezing mark. Clouds will increase late Sunday and snow showers are likely to return to the region Monday.
So what’s wrong with the “Triangle of Life” method of reacting to an earthquake, where you crouch up against a wall or a solid object in hopes of being in a triangle shaped void should a pancake collapse of the building occur? The problem with that is in the industrialized world, with our building standards, a pancake collapse is almost unheard of. Most of the people who are hurt or killed in a quake here are struck by falling objects such as light fixtures or heavy bookcases or appliances. Using the Triangle technique only exposes you to falling objects, and makes injury or death much more likely.
If you were in a third world country with very poor building standards, there might be some logic to the Triangle of Life, but not in this country.
Randy wrote to me with a third option. He says he was taught in school the best thing to do was to find the nearest exit and quickly get outside and away from the building and anything that could fall on you.
But Randy’s method wouldn’t work, and in fact is just what you should not do. Let’s say you are back in school. If you were to follow that advice (and to my knowledge no governmental agency recommends running out of a building…in fact they do exactly the opposite), there is no way you could clear out a school before the event was over, and you would only expose students to greater danger from falling objects…especially just outside the exterior walls. If you are already outside the building, you should run away from it, but not if you are inside. You are much safer to stay inside, hunker down and ride it out.
Here’s the official recommendation from http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes
If you are inside a building:
•Stay where you are until the shaking stops. Do not run outside. Do not get in a doorway as this does not provide protection from falling or flying objects, and you may not be able to remain standing.
•Drop down onto your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn’t knock you down. Drop to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!) •Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris. If you are in danger from falling objects, and you can move safely, crawl for additional cover under a sturdy desk or table.
◦If there is low furniture or an interior wall or corner nearby, and the path is clear, these may also provide some additional cover.
◦Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as light fixtures or furniture.
•Hold on to any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops. Stay where you are until the shaking stops.
They aren’t the only ones who hold to this. The USGS uses the Drop Cover and Hold On method in their Great Shake Out drills. So does the Red Cross, and every other established organization I am aware of.
Mary Kapner said:
If you are in a multi-touch building and you run out, you could be killed by falling glass.
Mike Alger said:
That’s true, Mary. And if not glass, falling bricks or other building pieces.
Jared L. said:
In the recent Reno quake, the epicenter was less than 2 miles away. This made the 4.4 feel very strong, to the extent that I got under my desk in case it intensified. Nothing fell, but since we recently remodeled the house, some large cracks appeared in the walls and ceiling.
Mike Alger said:
Always a good idea to take cover, just in case it intensifies.