Surviving an Earthquake: Is ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ Really the Best Way?


With the recent earthquakes in Southern California, some say it’s a sign of the huge quake to come that will surely leave a lot of damage. In all the speculation, some people have been stocking up on water and necessities to prepare. However, what is the best way to actually survive the big one when the time comes?

Most of us in America are taught the conventional “drop, cover and hold on” approach in school, where you take cover under an object like a heavy table to avoid objects falling onto you. However, there is a new method that was widely promoted on the internet a couple years ago started by Doug Copp, a Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI). He argues that his method of the “triangle of life” is a much better approach of survival during an earthquake. What it basically asks you to do is to lay down in a fetal position next to furniture. While parts of the room and walls collapse on top of the furniture, spaces are created that act as a buffer to protect you from being crushed.

Copp came up with the “triangle of life” from his experience working during the aftermath of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City. There, he claimed that he kept finding schoolchildren who were under their desks crushed to death, but the kids curled up on the floor between the desks survived.

Check out these diagrams that show what Copp learned after the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City (in Spanish):

According to Time, a consensus has been built over the past decade confirming that “drop, cover, and hold on” is still a better method for anyone in developed countries like the U.S. where buildings are better built to reduce the likelihood of structures collapsing. According to Gary Patterson, a geologist and director of education and outreach at the Center for Earthquake Research & Information at the University of Memphis in Tennessee:

“You have to think about the hazard level of the area you’re in… If you’re going to play the odds, drop and cover may be the best way to go, but a lot of emergency responders might say triangle of life because they’re the ones who see the fatalities in buildings that do collapse.”

Copp disagrees strongly and believes that the “triangle of life” is the way to go regardless of whether you’re in the First or Third World.

Which approach would you pick to survive an earthquake? Make some noise in the comments below!

Source: Time

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