As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Queries on QUAKES 2: How can we prepare for an earthquake?

Welcome to Day 2 of ‘Queries on Quakes’. I was born and raised on the island of Cebu in the Philippines where our education did not include disaster preparedness. This is quite ironic since #1-The Philippines is within the Ring of Fire (an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean), #2- the country is right smack in the typhoon belt of the Pacific & is battered by an average of 20 typhoons every year. When there’s a typhoon, all we know of self-preservation is that classes will be cancelled , and all of us had to stay home – eat, nap & watch TV.  

Every year, many preventable accidents and fatalities happen because of natural and manmade disasters. If you survive, people say ‘Consider yourself lucky! Praise the Lord!”  And when somebody dies from a disaster, people just proclaim ‘it was his time’….For a brief period, media and local folks talk about it. However, people quickly forget and nobody is taking down notes.  

The following questions often remain unanswered: What went wrong? Was it preventable? What could have been done differently? What could we have done to be better prepared? 

Soon, too soon I think, everybody goes back to their daily routine until the same disaster strikes again and people are shocked all over again… and nothing changes with how we deal with these crises. 

When you talk about the “preparedness” (“pangandam” in Cebuano), people think you are referring to preparing for one’s demise (or reunion with the Almighty)…so if you say “Be prepared!”, people in my hometown think you mean “better go to confession, make your act of contrition- for when disaster comes, your time might be up.” 

Thus, on October 15, 2013, when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit my hometown of Cebu, naturally, people were clueless. To demonstrate my point, I will tell you how my family responded.  
My Mom was watching TV when everything started shaking. Onto the floor the tv fell and so did books, statues, pans, etc. My Mom, together with my sister and nephew, quickly decided to take refuge  under our dining table which has a glass top..how safe is that!? During the tremors they felt sort of safe but in hindsight had the table’s glass top shattered, that moment would have been the end of them.

When I heard about my family’s ‘unsafe’ response to the tremors,  I felt the urgency to write about the topic of earthquake preparedness. It is my hope, that Cebuanos & all Filipinos will now talk about the topic of “earthquakes” at home, in school, at the workplace and make preparedness part of their daily lives.

Here are some clear and simple instructional videos that I have gathered for you. 

I hope that you, your family and friends will learn a thing or two from them. 
1. Prepare the Children…
Video A
Be Turtle Safe!
Let’s learn from New Zealand, they have created “Turtle Safe”,  an educational DVD developed specifically to teach preschool children what to do if they are inside or outdoors when an earthquake occurs. Teachers are encouraged to hold several practice drills with the children so they are familiar with the drill. Read more

Video source

I think “Turtle Safe” is an effective way of teaching little kids. It’s a simple and catchy instructional song to help kids remember what to do in case of tremors. With the song comes the critical image of the TURTLE curling in for shelter. So if  ever kids panic and cannot  remember the lyrics to the song they will still have the image of the turtle curling in to safety position and kids will instantly remember what to do.

Here are the lyrics of

If the earth begins to shake
What do we do for safety’s sake
Get under a table and hold on tight
And everything will be alright
If there aren’t any tables or you’re outside
We have a different way to hide
Crouch on the ground and cover your head
Just like a turtle tucked up in bed
There’ll be no need to cry or yelp
‘Cause there’s lots of people around to help
But you must practice what to do
Drop, cover and hold and you’ll get through
Remember, Stan says, practice… Drop Cover Hold

Video B-
The children of New Zealand will show you how to do it…

2.Prepare everybody to be ready in different settings: home, school, office, construction work, hospitals, etc…

Video A
Japan’s earthquake early warning system
Let’s learn from Japan, young and old in every sector have been properly informed and practiced as to what to do when the early warnings come.
Video Source

Video B
Instructional video from New Zealand

Check out other video resources on NZGetThru on YouTube

3. Prepare the Handicapped…I salute New Zealand for having Earthquake Preparedness Resources for the HANDICAPPED. Below is an instructional video for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Civil Defence DVD-Earthquake
Video Source
Other Resources for the Handicapped:
Check out New Zealand’s resources for the deaf
Check out New Zealand’s Resources for the blind and partially sighted

Here are some more materials that you can use to learn about Earthquake Safety:

1. Earthquake BASICS:

Image Source
Image Source
Image Source


2. Earthquake Safety 
from Mickey Mouse & Friends:

Teaching Children about Earthquake Safety
Disney Digital Books via Red Cross


The Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety of North California
Info from bayquakealliance

The Bay Area Earthquake Alliance, which is composed of 182 member groups and organizations, coordinates earthquake awareness and preparedness activities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The Alliance is a part of the Earthquake Country Alliance, a statewide alliance linking organizations and individuals that provide earthquake information and services. Read more…
Below are the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety in one chart:
4. Earthquake Preparedness FAQs
from US Geological Survey 

The USGS is a science bureau within the US Dept of the Interior. It provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information.
5. For those of you in the Philippines, check out the Earthquake Awareness & Preparedness Resources 
available on the website of  PHIVOLCS:  Philippine Institute of Volcanology & Seismology

“Shake out. Don’t freak out.”

Image Source

Learn how you can organize or participate in a Shake Out (Earthquake Drill)
For the Philippines/Filipinos: HOW TO CONDUCT AN EARTHQUAKE DRILL

6. The QUAKE GRAB BAG—what should be in it?

Let us learn from the Japanese.. let’s look at what’s inside the Japanese Quake Grab Bag.

Info from BBC
“The widespread devastation caused by Japan’s earthquake and resulting tsunami has been a reminder that even a country well-prepared for such disasters cannot always avoid the brutal blows of nature.

With more than half a million people living in temporary shelters and panic-buying leaving stores empty of supplies, people are being reminded of the importance of government advice, which tells them to have a survival “grab bag” permanently at the ready.

So what sort of things should be in such an emergency kit? The Japanese government recommends a long list of items to its citizens, but it is down to the individual to take on board the advice and prioritise what is crucial to them…” Read more
Read intro to Emergency Preparedness Kits on Essential Packs
Read The Earthquake and Tsunami Smart MANUAL/A Guide for Protecting Your Family, EMBC
Check out valuable info here: Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country, Southern California Earthquake Center

Earthquake Painting by a Haitian artist
“Prepare for the unknown 
by studying how others in the past 
have coped with the unforeseeable 
and the unpredictable.” 
Gen. George S. Patton
Quote Source

One comment on “Queries on QUAKES 2: How can we prepare for an earthquake?

  1. Hijung Kim
    November 3, 2016

    Wow! I am a teacher in Korea. Your site is so helpful for my earthquake preparedness class! Thank you!

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This entry was posted on October 29, 2013 by in Communicate, Teach and tagged .
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