In the early hours of Friday 22 August, Gauteng was rocked by a 3.8 magnitude earthquake. It was the second to strike in less than three weeks. The first quake – which measured 5.5 – rattled residents as far away as Durban on Tuesday 5 August. One man was killed in a mining village near Orkney, 34 miners were injured and more than 600 houses were damaged. The collapse of an extension at a luxury property in Meyersdal Eco Estate, which left seven people dead, has also been attributed to the earthquake but this has yet to be verified.
The earthquakes have literally shocked South Africa. We are not used to dealing with earthquakes and aftershocks. We might be skilled at playing dodge ‘ems with taxis and take hijackings in our stride but earthquakes? That’s one bullet we blissfully thought we’d dodged. But experts believe there may be more to come. With this in mind and being of the paranoid persuasion, I decided to look up some tips on what to do in an earthquake. The Earthquake Country Alliance provided some interesting insights.
Drop down onto your hands and knees (before the earthquake knocks you down). This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.
Cover your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, only then should you get down near an interior wall or next to furniture that won’t fall on you and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
Hold on to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.
Run outside or to other rooms during shaking. The area near the exterior walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to collapse. Shaking can be so strong that you will not be able to move far without falling down and objects may fall or be thrown at you unexpectedly. Simply put, stay inside if you are inside and outside if you are outside.
Stand in a doorway! According to the Alliance, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house and will not protect you from falling or flying objects.
Although it’s unlikely that you will ever have to drop, cover and hold on in SA, forewarned is forearmed!