SURVIVE AN EARTHQUAKE
"TRIANGLE OF LIFE" - HOW TO SURVIVE AN EARTHQUAKE
EXTRACT FROM DOUG COPP'S ARTICLE ON THE "TRIANGLE OF
Edited by Larry Linn for MAA Safety Committee brief on 4/13/04.
"The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City
during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under their desk. Every child
was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by
lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary
and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn't at the time
know that the children had been told to hide under something.
There would likely have been 100 percent survivability
for people using the
"triangle of life" method.
Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling
upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space
or void right next to them. This space is what I call the "triangle of
life". The larger and stronger the object, the less it will be compacted.
The less the object compacts, the larger the void and the greater the
probability that any person using this void for safety will not be injured."
TEN TIPS FOR EARTHQUAKE SAFETY
1) DON'T DUCK & COVER
Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" when buidlings collapse, are
crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are
2) Lay NEXT to A LARGE OBJECT
Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that
will only compress slightly and leave a void next to it.
3) Go into WOODEN BUILDINGS - AWAY from BRICK or CONCRETE
Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an
earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If
the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also,
the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings
will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less
squashed bodies than concrete slabs.
4) ROLL OFF your BED onto the FLOOR
If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off
the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much
greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back
of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next
to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.
5) FETAL POSITION
Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You
should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You
can survive in a smaller void and are a smaller target. If an earthquake
happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then
lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.
6) DON'T STAND UNDER a DOORFRAME
Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed.
Why? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or
backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls
sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be
7) NEVER GO TO THE STAIRS
The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately
from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the
building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the
stairs takes place. The people who are on stairs before they fail are
chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building
doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are one of the most
likely parts of a building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not
collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by
fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest
of the building is not damaged.
8) Get NEAR or OUTSIDE MAIN WALLS of Buildings
Stand next to the walls of buildings or outside of them if possible - It is
much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior.
The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the
greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked
9) GET OUT of your CAR and LAY NEXT TO IT
People inside their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an
earthquake and crushes their vehicles, which is exactly what happened with
the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San
Francisco earthquake all stayed inside their vehicles. They were all killed.
They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying
next totheir vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had
been able to
get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had
voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall
directly across them.
10) LAY NEXT TO STACKS of NEWSPAPERS
I discovered, while crawling inside collapsed newspaper offices and other
offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact much. Large voids
are found surrounding stacks of paper.
EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT IN AN EARTHQUAKE ZONE - SPREAD THE WORD YOU MAY SAVE
SOMEONE'S LIFE IN ANOTHER PLACE...