SUGGESTIONS FOR PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE EVENT OF EARTHQUAKE IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Lately the entire country is concerned about damages due to frequently occurring earthquakes, especially in the Himalayan region. It is, thus, important to understand the earthquake activity and personal protection in an earthquake event.
Earthquake is a natural global phenomenon occurring across the world. In India, earthquakes are known to occur since ancient time, however, earthquake activity is becoming quite common since last one decade. Although earthquake tremor may occur in any part of our Nation, most earthquake prone areas are the Himalayan Region, NE Region and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
It is a well known fact that entire North Eastern Region, including Arunachal Pradesh, falls under the high seismic zone, i.e. Zone V of the Indian Seismic Zones. Various records show that earthquakes of different magnitude have been occurring frequently in Arunachal Pradesh. The increasing population and extensive developmental activities have further made the State highly vulnerable to seismic hazards.
Unplanned developmental activities in Arunachal Pradesh, particularly the concrete construction for their modern life style, are increasing day by day without considering the vulnerability to the earthquakes. Preparedness for earthquake is, therefore, important for the State of Arunachal Pradesh, where earthquake can result in large-scale disaster due to inappropriate structures. It is not the Earthquakes that kill people; it is collapse of man-made structures that does most of the damage. We should, therefore, prepare ourselves to mitigate the worse effect by following building codes and proper landuse plans strictly.
Since the earthquake disaster is a natural phenomenon, it cannot be stopped, however its adverse effect can be minimized. Therefore, the need of the day is to educate the general public regarding the danger from earthquake hazards. Keeping in view the vulnerability to earthquake, the following norms for DOs and DON’Ts in case of an earthquake event have been suggested, which everyone must follow for their personal protection. These are given below separately for “Before an Earthquake”, “During an Earthquake” and “After an Earthquake” :
BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE
- Follow local safe building codes and advocate its enforcement in your area.
- Support the community efforts to replace or remove old weak buildings or structures.
- Encourage and participate in earthquake drill or training.
- Learn first aid.
- Keep immunization up to date for all family members.
- Identify the medical centres, fire fighting stations, police posts or any relief society of your area in advance.
While at home
- Procure battery-powered radio, torches, and first aid kit. Make sure every one knows their storage places. Keep batteries at the most convenient places.
- Know location of electric fuse box, gas & water shut off valves of your residence.
- Secure, fasten or bolt down heavy appliances to the floor and do not keep heavy objects unsupported on the high level shelves.
- Do not hang picture frames or mirror over beds. Locate beds away from the windows. Do not put hanging plants or light fixtures where they can swing and hit a window or come off their hooks.
- Store containers of dangerous materials, such as flammable liquids and poisons, in a secure place where they cannot fall or break open.
- Keep a few days of non-perishable food on hand in your house. If you take a medicine regularly, have an extra support on hand.
- Use flexible gas and hot water connections, if possible.
While at School or at Work
- Discuss Earthquake Safety in the classroom and attend drills for Earthquake Protection.
- Make sure to know the emergency exits and plan before hand how to leave the building in emergency.
DURING AN EARTHQUAKE
- Stay calm and reassure others.
If you are Indoor
- Stay Indoor and stand against a wall in the corner, or get under a sturdy table or wooden cot.
- Stay away from mirrors, windows and outside doors.
- Do not use candles, matches, or other open flames.
- If in a crowded store (shopping complex, cinema halls) evacuate only if told so.
- Do not rush towards the door or staircase. They may be broken or jammed.
If you are Outdoor
- Stay in the open and do not run through streets.
- If you are on a playground, stay away from the buildings.
- Stay away from the overhead electric wires or anything that might fall (such as buildings, chimneys, balconies, power poles and other projections.
- If in a moving vehicle, stop away from bridges, over passes and hoarding and remain inside the vehicle until shaking is over.
AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE
- Check yourself and people nearby for injuries. Provide first aid, if needed. Do not attempt to remove seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger.
- Wear shoes and gloves in all areas near debris or broken glass. Check water, gas and electric lines and fittings. If damaged, shut off the main valves.
- Check for fire or fire hazards.
- Do not use matches or open flames until you are sure that there is no gas leak. Do not operate electric switches or appliances, if gas leaks are suspected.
- Avoid downed power lines or objects touched by them.
- Immediately clean up spilled medicines, drugs and other potentially harmful material.
- Check chimneys, parapet and balconies carefully for any cracks and stay out of the damaged buildings.
- Open closet and cupboard doors carefully as the objects inside may fall down on you.
- Use battery-operated radios and T.V. for emergency instructions.
- Do not use telephone as it would be needed for higher priority (such as rescue, help, medical) messages.
- Do not flush toilets until sever lines are checked.
- Do not spread rumors as these can cause panic.
- Respond to requests for help from police, fire fighting, civil defense and relief organizations.
- Do not go into the damaged areas unless your help has been asked for. Be vigilant for looters.
- Prof Trilochan Singh
Prof Trilochan Singh is an Earth Scientist, working in Arunachal Pradesh for the last 43 years. He remained Scientist with Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) – an autonomous R&D Institution under the Deptt of Science & Technology, Govt of India, from 1971 to 2008, and was the Scientist In-charge of the NE Unit of the WIHG at Itanagar from 1998 to 2008. He took Voluntary Retirement from WIHG, in Feb. 2008, at the post of Scientist ‘G’.
Prof Singh was actively involved with the awareness programs on Disaster Management. Considering earthquakes and landslides vulnerability in Arunachal Pradesh, he conducted a series of earthquake awareness programs to educate the general public regarding the earthquake and landslide hazards and their mitigation strategies by providing integrated knowledge about preparedness, rescue, relief, rehabilitation, etc.
Presently, Prof Trilochan Singh is the Honorary Professor in the Arunachal University of Studies, Namsai.
I am quite confident that suggestions given by Prof Trilochan Singh will be of great value in prevention of physical damages and human lives in Arunachal Pradesh.
Prof G N Pandey