By Karen Trom from the June 2012 Edition
I grew up in Minnesota and have spent most of my adult life in Wisconsin so I am an old pro when it comes to blizzards, artic temps, and even tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. However, I had never experienced and earthquake until this past December and it was certainly not what I expected. I thought it was just a loud airplane buzzing really close until my husband (who has experienced earthquakes in California) yelled “look at the pool! It’s an earthquake!” By the time I registered what he said, it was over. I am used to weather occurrences that warn you ahead of time- not the kind that just happen! After we checked the internet to find out that it really was an earthquake, I quickly updated my Facebook status so my Midwest friends could think I was very brave and exotic. I then realized I have no clue what to do in case of an earthquake.
- Many of you have lived in Mexico long enough to know what to do but in a quick poll of my neighbors, everyone has a different plan so I did some research. My first instinct was to run outside but this Midwestern gal has no instincts when it comes to the earth shaking! Every single source says to stay inside and NEVER flee outside a building when an earthquake strikes According to FEMA, you should DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
- Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
- Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it seems safe to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection..
- Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
- If you are outside, stay there. Move away from overhead wires, streetlights and buildings. If you are in a car, stop when it is safe to do so. Do not stop near utility lines or overpasses.
- When the second earthquake hit a few weeks later, I was not better prepared, even after doing my research. When my husband yelled “earthquake!,” I immediately ran outside to check on our daughters who were on the beach. Luckily, neither of these earthquakes were big ones (good gosh, they seemed big to me!) so we were safe, but I hope to react as I should for the next one. What about my daughters? They were hanging out at La Boquita and had no clue there was an earthquake until a waiter told them. I guess my best bet is to spend as much time as possible on the beach with a beer in hand. No power lines, no tall buildings and no windows to worry about there.
There is an ironic twist to this story. About a month after we were back in Wisconsin, a neighboring town, Clintonville, experienced mysterious loud booms and shaking for several nights in a row. Being an experienced earthquake survivor, I knew what it was but the skeptics doubted me as we never have earthquakes here. Well, guess what? After much investigation, it was determined that the booming and shaking was indeed a series of earthquakes! It was only a 2.4 which is nothing to most of you, but let’s see how everyone in Manzanillo reacts if it snows!
Next month – How to prepare before an earthquake and what to do after it happens. Until then stay safe and stay healthy!