Eartquakes Earthquakes: Why They Occur And How To Prepare For Them An earthquake is one of the most powerful natural disasters known to man. Earthquakes are so powerful that they can knock down buildings and bridges as well as change river routes and cause landslides. With all the damage earthquakes cause the only way to protect oneself from them is to be prepared and well educated about them. Since they cannot be predicted one must always be prepared for them. Strict building codes in earthquake prone areas also help to minimize the property damage caused during an earthquake. Earthquakes throughout history have caused several millions of deaths as well as severe property damage.
Earthquakes are more complex than one may think they are. Earthquakes most often occur near plate boundaries because that is where the tectonic plates meet. As tectonic plates slide past each other they cause tension on one another. After a while there is so much tension on these rocks that they just snap. The sudden break of these rocks send vibrations out in all directions. Soon after the first vibration is sent out a second vibration is sent out called the After shock.
Humans can also cause earthquakes in many ways. Injecting fluids into deep well for waste disposal, filling reservoirs with water, and firing underground nuclear test blast, In limited circumstances lead to earthquakes. All these activities increase the strain within the rock near the location of the activities. So that rocks slip and slide along preexisting faults(Microsoft Encarta 2000). Earthquakes can cause a lot of damage. They are strongest near the epicenter.
The epicenter is directly above the point that the earths crust snaps. The farther from the epicenter the weaker the vibrations of the earthquake are. That means the area close to the epicenter are going to receive more damage and areas farther from the epicenter are going to receive less damage. As well as distances from the epicenter the type of area an earthquake occurs in has effect on how much damage is caused. Under developed countries seem to suffer much more damage than a developed country.
Underdeveloped countries have less strict building codes and are not prepared for natural disaster as well as developed countries are. In underdeveloped countries earthquakes cause much more deaths also. After earthquakes conditions often lead to widespread disease outbreaks. Damage to hospitals, water supply lines, sewage lines, and lack of housing all contribute to the widespread of disease. Developed countries have the same problems but thier strict building codes, emergency forces, and preparedness seem to minimize the damage and death caused by earthquakes.
No matter if a person lives in developed or underdeveloped country earthquakes still cause damage. A tsunami is probably the effect of an earthquake. A tsunami is a group of giant sea waves that get bigger and bigger as they get closer to the coast that usually strike without warning. As these giant sea waves come crashing down on the coast they cause servere flooding that drowns a lot of people instantly and cause a lot of property damage. Along with flooding from tsunamis rivers are often rerouted during major earthquakes and flood whole town. After most major earthquakes there are fires.
The worst part of fires after an earthquake is that usually broken gas mains cause the fires. If the gas mains are broken usually the water mains are also broken so firefighters have a hard time finding water to put out the fires. Another effect of an earthquake is landslides. Landslides are very dangerous if they occur because most of the time anything in the path of a landslide is destroyed. Earthquakes are very dangerous for a few reasons.
First of all they cannot be predicted and second they cannot be stopped. If an earthquake occurs all that can be done is wait it out. That is why everyone must be prepared for an earthquake. The first item that must be learned about an earthquake is that they can occur at any time and any place. Two procedures that must be done in order to prepare for an earthquake is make an earthquake kit and prepare ones home for an earthquake.
The basic earthquake kit should include food and water, first aid kit, flashlight, portable radio, extra batteries, cash, none electric can opener, essential medicines, and family photos and descriptions of all family members. (http://www.fema.gov /library/quakef. htm) You should make sure there is at least a three-day supply of food and water in the kit. This means at least a half-gallon of water for each person per day. Well-packaged cookies, cracker, and cold cereals are recommended for the basic kit. For main dishes instant soups and canned foods are great. Powdered milk is also a nice addition to the basic earthquake kit because it is required in making a great deal of foods.
As far as drinks go all that is required is water but you may want to add coffee, tea, or instant drink mixes to the kit. As far as snacks go pretzels, chips, dry fruits, and nuts because they have a lot of nutrients that will be need. Always make sure there is a first aid kit in every earthquake kit. In most major earthquakes people get injured; a first aid kits will be needed. Two other very important additions to any earthquake kit are a portable flashlight and radio.
Since the power will probably go out during a earthquake these are required in any earthquake kit. Flashlights will help people find their way in the dark and the radio will notify people when help will arrive. The last thing that should be in the kit is photos and description of the whole family in case anyone is missing. If all these items are included in a persons earthquake kit they are going to have a much better chance of surviving an earthquake. To prepare for an earthquake a lot more must be done than to make an earthquake kit. Homes and businesses must also be prepared.
To prepare homes and businesses for an earthquake a lot must be done. First all shelves must be securely fastened to the walls. All heavy and large items should be moved down to lower shelves. All breakable items should be stored in cabinets with latches. All heavy objects hanging from the ceiling or walls should be moved away from areas where people sit or sleep (http://www.fema.gov/library/quakef.htm). All overhead objects should be properly braced. All defective electrical wiring should be repaired because it is a major fire hazard.
All heavy objects such as water heaters should be braced to the studs in the wall and to the floor. Also any cracks in ceilings, walls, or foundations should be fixed immediately. During earthquakes there are certain procedure that should be followed depending on where a person is during an earthquake. If a person is inside he or she should take cover under heavy furniture or against an inside wall. They should stay where they are at until the earthquake is over.
During an earthquake one of the most dangerous things they can do is try to leave the building they are in because of possible falling objects from buildings. If a person is already outside he or she should quickly move to an open area away from any building or utility wires. Once they are in an open area they should stay there until the earthquake is over. If a person is driving when an earthquake occurs than he or she should stop as quickly as possible. Always stay in the vehicle and move away from any buildings, trees, or anything else that could possibly collapse. When the earthquake is all over make sure to proceed with caution.
Watch out for any structures that could have been damaged and may collapse at any time. After the earthquake is over be ready for the aftershock. The after shock is usually smaller than the main shock but it may cause any of the structures damaged by the main shock to collapse. Aftershocks are very unpredictable they can occur as soon as the earthquake is over or as late as a few days or months later. The most important thing that any one must remember about an earthquake is that it can not be predicted and it can happen at anytime. Always be ready for an earthquake it could happen anytime even in the places that are least expected.
All a person has to do to prepare for an earthquake is to make an earthquake kit practice what should be done when one occurs. An earthquake can cause a lot or a little damage depending on its location and the magnitude of it. Earthquakes often cause floods, landslides, fires, and tsunamis, which can cause more damage than the earthquake itself. So always remember an earthquake can happen anytime or place. Always be prepared.