It is frightening to stay in a building immediately after an earthquake but it is much safer than immediately going outside. The Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, John Hamilton, said it is not like a fire. You do not have to evacuate a building straight away unless it is showing obvious signs of distress. When you eventually evacuate, do take your wallet, coat, bag, and so on. You are more vulnerable if you leave those things behind. If you have a getaway kit or 'go bag', take it.
Have a plan before you need it. Tell others what you plan to do. An evacuation assembly area in case of fire might not be appropriate after an earthquake. Large open areas with no tall buildings, power lines or other hazards immediately adjacent are best. It is often better to remain in your building until the safest route has been found.
'Seeing thousands of people gathered outside Wellington high rise buildings on Friday afternoon [16 August 2013] was extremely worrying. Glass and masonry falling into streets cause terrible casualties. A major after-shock could have been tragic for those standing in the street.
'What we saw was that many people knew to Drop, Cover, and Hold during the earthquake but most did not know what to do afterwards.'
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management suggests workplaces develop a plan for what to do immediately after a major earthquake, assuming serious damage. In the case of smaller, more common, earthquakes, such a plan can be scaled back.
→ Read the full media release(http://www.civildefence.govt.nz/memwebsite.nsf/srch/BD894105994E9B15CC25734600759C5F?OpenDocument) for information on developing a plan for your workplace
Summarised from a Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management media release, 20 August 2013.
- NZS 1170.5:2004 Structural design actions – Part 5: Earthquake actions – New Zealand
- NZS 1170.5 Supplement 1:2004 Structural design actions – Part 5: Earthquake actions –New Zealand Commentary
- NZS 4104:1994 Seismic restraint of building contents
- NZS 4219:2009 Seismic performance of engineering systems in buildings