Top Tips on What to Do During an Earthquake
It is estimated that as many 500,000 earthquakes occur every year with 100,000 able to be felt by humans. In certain places, minor earthquakes occur almost constantly. As the map below shows, tectonic plates are located all over the world. The most famous and impactful area for earthquakes is the so-called ‘ring of fire’ in the Pacific Ocean; about 90 per cent of all the world’s earthquakes occur in this area. Most earthquakes are natural occurrences but human development has had an impact. The construction of dams and the impact of fracking for gas are thought to cause earthquakes or at least increase their impact. It has been estimated that on average, there are 18 major earthquakes every year (those registering 7.0-7.9 on the Richter scale) and one great earthquake (those register 8.0 and above). Unlike volcanoes or tropical storms, scientists have found it impossible, at this point, to predict when an earthquake will occur.
What to Expect:
Small to Moderate EarthquakesSeismic movements which are lower on the Richter Scale can occur across the world, including in places like the United Kingdom, which is not on or near any tectonic plates. These earthquakes do not represent an emergency risk. When such quakes occur, you can expect:
- Shaking to occur for only a few seconds.
- Lights to move and some minor movement of objects to occur inside buildings.
- To feel a small amount of shaking under your feet if outside.
- To hear a bang if very close to the epicentre
Large EarthquakesThe impact on larger earthquakes, which includes everything from 5.0 on the Richter Scale, largely depends on where they occur and at what depth. Their impact may be felt for several minutes. However, in general when they do occur, you can expect the following.
- The ground to potentially shake violently, in some cases strong enough to knock you off your feet.
- To probably feel shaking followed by a sea-like rolling motion.
- Buildings may sway and the earthquake is likely to cause a roaring sound.
- To feel swaying if in the upper floors of a high-rise building.
- Furniture and fixings may be thrown across the room, especially if unsecured, and windows may break.
- It is possible that fire systems will be triggered with sprinklers and alarms activated.
- You can also expect lights and power to go off.