Recent tectonic movements from the Pacific Rim, Himalayan plate, Eurasian plate, and Americas have resulted in several low to medium tectonic activity over the past five to six years. The National Earthquake Information Center (NIEC) in the US locates about 20,000 earthquakes around the globe each year, or approximately 55 per day. Reportedly, about 16 major earthquakes are anticipated in any given year (15 earthquakes in the magnitude 07 range and one earthquake with magnitude 8.0 or greater).

Tectonic activities pose risk to both life and infrastructure in varying intensities. Damages may range from as mere as power disruptions for an hour to long-term impacts like an economic downfall. Although with technological advancements have enabled timely communication of earthquake-related information; it is essential that individuals and business organisations are well-equipped with preventive measures for emergency preparedness.

Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale

IInstrumentalNot or negligibly felt.
IIFeebleFelt by those at rest on upper floors.
IIISlightFelt as low vibrations by those at rest.
IVModerateLight-moderately heavy objects may rattle. Felt visibly by those indoors and in low intensity by those outdoors.
V Rather strongGlass objects break and unstable objects overturn. Felt by everyone.
VIStrongSlight infrastructural damage (wall plaster come off; glass windows may shatter). Felt strongly and people evacuate indoors.
VIIVery StrongConsiderable damage poorly-built structures and slight to moderate damage to well-built ones. Chimneys may break and people find it difficult
to stand.
VIIIDestructivePartial collapse of ordinary structures. Immediate evacuation of people to open spaces.
IXRuinous Damage and collapse of well-built structures lead to panic and chaos.
XDisastrousMost masonry and wooden structures destroyed. Roads develop cracks or may even cave in and railway tracks get bent.
XIVery DisastrousFew masonry structures remain standing with almost complete collapse of infrastructures.
XIICatastrophicComplete damage to infrastructure. Lines of sight and level distorted. Strong ripples felt on ground.

Easy and Actionable Safety Tips

Before an Earthquake

  • Identify the safest places to ‘drop, cover, and hold on’ in home and/or office.
  • Prepare an emergency kit (comprising of essentials such as medication, flashlights and batteries, mobile charger, cash).
  • Determine an emergency plan for disasters with family, colleagues, and friends.
  • Keep emergency numbers handy.
  • It is advised to be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days (72 hours) following a disaster.
  • Learn Emergency skills such as First Aid and CPR.

During an Earthquake

  • Beware that some tremors are actually foreshocks, and a larger earthquake might follow.
  • In case an earthquake warning is in place or foreshocks are reported, prepare for a survival kit (comprising of items included in the emergency kit, plus dry food, cell phone and charger, hand-sanitizer, band-aids, whistle, and passport) for support for atleast 48 hours.

Indoors – Drop down onto hands and knees, cover head with anything sturdy, and seek shelter underneath a table/door pane. Ensure to close the valve of the kitchen gas stove and not use candles, matches or other open flames.

Outdoors – Stay away from buildings, utility wires, sinkholes, and fuel and gas lines. Find an open space and rest low to the ground until tremors stop.

Highrise – Do not panic and rush in order to avoid stampede. Instead, follow the safety measures for indoors, stay away from glass windows and avoid using elevators.

Wheelchair-bound individuals or those using a walker – lock your wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.

Inside vehicles – Drive the vehicle away from utility poles, overhead wires, and under- or overpasses and set the parking brake. Stay within the car and turn on the radio for emergency broadcast information.

Near hilly terrain – Be alert for falling rocks and other debris, especially on mountainous areas or near unstable slopes/cliffs. Landslides are often triggers by earthquakes.

Near coastal areas – Immediately evacuate to high ground – atleast 100 feet (30 meters) above sea level or three km inland. Preferably walk quickly rather than driving to avoid traffic and debris.

After an Earthquake

  • In case trapped, protect mouth, nose, and eyes from airborne debris.
  • In case trapped, protect mouth, nose, and eyes from airborne debris.
  • Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage as unnoticed damage could cause a fire.
  • Those in coastal areas should beware of possible tsunami warnings.

Return to Normalcy

  • Return to home or workspace only when public safety officials declare the area or the structure safe.
  • Report any damage or any release of hazardous gas/liquid to concerned authorities.
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Points to Remember

  • Prediction of earthquakes is difficult. Rely only on government sources (Meteorological and Seismic Activity Monitoring websites).
  • Refrain from listening to or spreading rumours.
  • Look out for aftershock and tsunami/landslide warnings.
  • Long-term strengthening or, retrofitting must be done to avoid earthquakeinduced damage.
  • For further details on vulnerability assessment, refer to MitKat’s Special Advisory on Earthquake Response Plans.
  • For detailed analysis of the seismic scenario in India, refer to MitKat’s Special Report on Seismic Activity in India and Threat to Business.

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