What to do and what not to do when an earthquake hits Australia

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Australia, known for its stunning landscapes and vibrant cities, may not be commonly associated with earthquakes.

However, the truth is that earthquakes can occur in various parts of the country; take the recent earthquake that occurred in Melbourne on February 9th, 2024 for example.

WATCH NOW: Townsville residents evacuate workplaces following an earthquake. Article continues after video. 

While Australia experiences relatively fewer seismic activities compared to some other countries, it’s still crucial for Australians to be prepared and knowledgeable about earthquake safety measures.

Read on to learn what to do before, during, and after an earthquake in Australia.

What should you do in an earthquake in Australia?

During an earthquake, it’s crucial to stay calm and act swiftly to protect yourself and others.

Remember to ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’: Drop to the ground to prevent being knocked over by the shaking. Take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a table or desk, and protect your head and neck with your arms. Hold on firmly until the shaking stops, as aftershocks are common and can be just as dangerous as the initial quake.

Make sure you also avoid doorways, as they do not provide adequate protection.

man in earthquake destruction
There are several things Aussies can do to remain safe during an earthquake. (Credit: Getty)

Where is the safest place to be during an earthquake?

Identifying safe locations within your surroundings is essential during an earthquake. Seek shelter under sturdy furniture, as mentioned earlier, and try to stay away from windows, glass, and heavy objects that could fall.

If you are outdoors, move to an open area away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and utility wires. If you’re in a high-rise building, take cover under a desk or table near an interior wall, away from windows and exterior walls. Remember, staying inside is generally safer than attempting to leave the building during an earthquake.

WATCH NOW: Supermarket CCTV footage as earthquake hits New Zealand. Article continues after video. 

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What are three tips to survive an earthquake?

Stay informed: Familiarise yourself with earthquake safety guidelines and understand the potential risks in your area. Stay updated with local news, emergency alerts, and warnings from authorities. Consider downloading relevant apps or subscribing to text message alerts for immediate notifications.

Create an emergency plan: Prepare a detailed plan with your family or household members that includes evacuation routes, designated meeting points, and a communication strategy. Assign responsibilities to each member, such as gathering emergency supplies or assisting young children or elderly family members.

Build an emergency kit: Assemble a well-stocked emergency kit containing essential supplies such as non-perishable food, water, a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, a portable radio, extra medications, and important documents. Store the kit in an easily accessible location.

How do you prepare for an earthquake in Australia?

Preparation is key to mitigating the impact of an earthquake. Here are some vital steps to take:

  1. Secure heavy furniture and appliances to prevent them from tipping or falling during shaking.
  2. Conduct regular home inspections to identify and address potential hazards such as loose bricks, unsecured shelves, or weakened structures.
  3. Consult with professionals to retrofit your home if you live in a high-risk area, reinforcing the structure against earthquake forces.
  4. Familiarise yourself with emergency protocols at your workplace or school, including evacuation plans and designated assembly points.
haiti earthquake
This building located in Haiti was severely damaged after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the country on August 14, 2021. (Credit: Getty)

What are three things you should not do during an earthquake?

Do not panic: Panic can cloud your judgement and hinder your ability to make sound decisions. Stay calm and focus on following the appropriate safety measures.

Do not use elevators: Avoid using elevators during an earthquake as power disruptions can occur, leaving you trapped. Instead, take the stairs if it is safe to do so.

Do not stand in doorways: The doorway myth, often depicted in movies, is outdated and can be dangerous. Doorways are not the safest places during earthquakes.

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