How to survive an earthquake in Bali

Indonesia is located on the edge of the Ring Of Fire, the volcanic ring that circles the Pacific. This means volcanoes and earthquakes, which can cause dramatic loss of life.

Many people have heard suggestions of what to do in an earthquake and I like others thought my best bet would be to stand in a doorway or if in a building avoid the elevators and head for the stairs.

An article in the Bali Advertiser offered a ‘heads up’ on the whole situation. Mr Doug Copp is an expert on earthquakes and is the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International. He has worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985 and used to the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation.

What his years of involvement have taught Doug is that when roofs and ceilings collapse they fall on objects and furniture underneath, crushing them. Anyone attempting to hide under a desk or a bed is always killed. However Doug says the falling beams always end up forming triangles of space between the crushed object and the floor, what he refers to as Triangles Of Life. Instead of hiding under a solid object, lay on the floor next to it and you will likely have a space to survive. Doug says in his years of on site investigating he has seen many office buildings that have been destroyed by earthquakes. Paper does not crush and usually where there are boxes of computer paper or other kinds of stacked paper there will be a decent triangle next to it.

What about the old idea of standing in a doorway because the roof falls into the room? Doug says people who stand in doorways are usually killed too. If the door jam falls forwards or backwards you will get crushed by the falling ceiling. If it falls sideways you will get cut in half by the doorway (a nasty thought).

What about stairs? Apparently stairs have a different ‘moment of frequently’ to the rest of the building and will swing back and forth until they collapse. Getting caught on a disintegrating set of stair means you will probably be shredded by the different parts.

So what are the 10 things you should remember during an earthquake?

1. Anyone who Ducks and Covers will probably get killed. Look for a solid object and lay next to it
2. Use a fetal position to lay in.
3. Wooden buildings are safer than brick because they are more flexible. Cement buildings tend to crush people where as brick buildings tend to deliver more projectile type injuries.
4. If you are in bed just roll out of bed and lay next to it.
5. If you are watching tv or eating dinner lay next to your sofa.
6. Do not stand in doorways
7. Stay away from the stairs as they are likely to fail.
8. If inside a large building try to get outside or at least as close as you can to the outer walls. The further inside you are the more the likelihood of your escape route being blocked.
9. If you are inside a car lay next to the car. Doug points to the Nimitz double-decker freeway that collapsed in California in 1988. Most people were crushed when the upper level fell on the one below. There was still 2 feet of space to lay in next to the cars.
10. Large spaces are often found in offices next to stacks of paper.

A couple of simple tips can make all the difference for us travelers in Indonesia.