Stop, drop and hold, safest strat­egy

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Stud­ies of peo­ple’s be­hav­iour dur­ing the Christchurch earth­quakes have found those who fol­lowed the ‘‘stop, drop and hold’’ mantra were the most likely to sur­vive.

Civil De­fence Min­istry spokesman Vince Cholewa said re­search by the min­istry, EQNZ and the En­gi­neers’ So­ci­ety looked at a num­ber of ac­tions that peo­ple ac­tu­ally took dur­ing the earth­quakes in 2010 and 2011.

They an­a­lysed data, in­clud­ing ac­counts of pa­tients at hospi­tal and tele­vi­sion footage of the ac­tual earth­quakes, and found the place to be for the best chance of sur­vival was un­der sturdy fur­ni­ture.

‘‘Most in­juries are caused by fall­ing de­bris, such as ceil­ing tiles, things fall­ing off walls or bricks,’’ he said.

The Min­istry’s ad­vice is to drop to the ground, cover by get­ting un­der a sturdy desk or ta­ble and hold on to it un­til the shak­ing stops.

That ad­vice will be re­in­forced by the first na­tional earth­quake drill next week, at 9.26am on Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 26.

New Zealand had about 15,000 earth­quakes each year but few are as dev­as­tat­ing as the dis­as­ter that struck Christchurch. Most are too deep or dis­tant to be felt, he said.

‘‘ There are about 100 big enough to be no­ticed.’’

If an earth­quake were se­vere enough there could be cat­a­strophic build­ing col­lapses but most in­juries were caused by fall­ing de­bris.

If a ta­ble or other sturdy pro­tec­tion was not avail­able, get­ting next to an in­ter­nal wall, well away from glass was the next best thing, Mr Cholewa said.

‘‘Get down, cover your head and neck. You have got no way of know­ing whether there is de­bris com­ing and which di­rec­tion it is go­ing to come from.’’

Once un­der a desk, peo­ple should hold on to it be­cause it is likely to move in the shake.

Any­one who runs out­side the build­ing risks in­jury from fall­ing ma­sonry, he said.

‘‘If you are out­side, the gen­eral ad­vice is to try to cover your head and neck.

‘‘ Cer­tainly move away – no more than a few steps is ideal – from build­ings, trees or street lights. If you can get un­der some­thing sturdy such as out­door fur­ni­ture, do so.’’

More than a mil­lion peo­ple had signed up for the Shake­out ex­er­cise.

Broad­cast me­dia will trans­mit a spe­cial civil emer­gency tone at 9.26 pre­ceded by a mes­sage that it is a drill.

Af­ter a ma­jor real earth­quake peo­ple should turn on a bat­tery­pow­ered ra­dio, he said. Com­puter net­works and cell-phone tow­ers were likely to be dis­abled by power cuts.

‘‘It al­most seems old-fash­ioned but ra­dio is vir­tu­ally the only medium that is guar­an­teed to continue.’’

In Christchurch all ra­dio sta­tions con­tin­ued to op­er­ate de­spite their staff suf­fer­ing the same im­pacts as ev­ery­body else, he said. ‘‘Even things like talk-back ra­dio be­come im­por­tant as a way of peo­ple reach­ing each other.’’

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