MANDATORY RULES OF THUMB FOR SEISMIC SAFETY, PROTECTION, BEHAVIOUR AND ACTION OF THE POPULATION IN CASE OF AN EARTHQUAKE
The General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations tells again what are the following legal and regulatory constraints that fall on natural persons:
a) to appropriate the protection methods and rules of behaviour in case of a specific emergency situation and participate in the activities organized, according to the law, for this purpose;
b) in the case of a production of a specific emergency situation, citizens are obliged to participate in the intervention actions for which they are required and to comply with the measures and provisions established by the central and local authorities.
At the same time, we introduce the basic rules of thumb for seismic safety/awareness, protection, behaviour and action of the population in case of an earthquake and / or landslides:
1) The seismic safety inside homes and in the work place
Safety measures for the workplace or home made for preventing damages caused by the results of an earthquake:
- avoid cluttering the work space or home with furniture pieces or unstable appliances that are located near the places where the family usually crowds, or in the workplace;
- securing heavy, slender, tall, bunk furniture pieces between them and then fixing it to a wall, and then using a solid beam in places where people usually crowd at work place or in the family;
- placing fragile, valuable objects in lower, safer ground.
- placing containers with chemicals and fuels in cabinets in which they cannot spill, in uninhabited rooms and there is no danger of contamination and fire;
- securing the cabinet doors with effective locks, so that dislodging of the tableware does not cause accidents;
- procuring at least one fire extinguisher in a home and placing it in a familiar and accessible place anytime, near potential sources of fire; learn how to use it;
- memorise the location of switches, fuses, king valves and house taps for water, gas and electricity and their way of handling so that, if necessary, after the earthquake, you can take the minimum emergency response measures - closing / opening;
- keep within reach a proper tool kit.
2) Rational behavior rules, for individuals and groups: work place, family, on the street, during earthquakes
1. Keep calm, do not panic, calm the others, protect children, the elderly and women. Do not be scared by the surrounding noises.
2. Prevent tendencies of leaving the room or house, because the initial seismic stage has a short duration, so that the stronger seismic stage could catch you on the stairs, hallways, floor levels, in crowds and panic, leading to unwanted severe accidents.
The stairs are very sensitive construction components that are vulnerable to the differentiated movements of floors and, even if they could stand firm the walking of people on the stairs under the effect of the seismic oscillation is extremely dangerous. Even if the exit out of the first floor or a downstairs home would be possible on paper and feasible in a short period of time, especially for younger people, there are many other dangers outside: shear walls, chimneys, fences, ornaments, stained glass etc.
3. Stay inside the room or house, away from windows that can break and can injure you, protect yourself by sitting under a beam, sturdy door frame, under a desk or table that is strong enough to protect you from falling objects, bunk furniture, lamps, stucco, etc. In the absence of such options you can protect yourself by laying on the floor next to a concrete wall on your elbows and knees, face down with palms clasped and in this way you will protect your head, neck. With your forearms you will protect the sides of the head. This recommendation involves prior knowledge, information gained by consulting a certified specialist, about those elements of construction that are quake-proof.
4. If possible, turn off ignition sources as fast as you can and if something has caught fire intervene immediately after the strong stage of the earthquake has passed.
5. Do not run out the door, do not jump out the window, do not run down the stairs, do not the elevator, avoid crowds, tussles, and if possible open the house door outward to prevent it from jamming, in order to evacuate after completion of the seismic wave.
6. Do not run into the street!
7. If you are outside a building, move as far away from it, beware of
plaster, bricks, chimneys, parapets, cornices, windows, ornaments which usually can
fall in the street. Do not run on the street, progress calmly towards an open and safe place.
8. Provide first aid to injured people.
9. If you are caught by surprise by falling plaster or overturned pieces of furniture, try and protect your head and limbs, or try to survive;
afterwards try and alarm your neighbours through different methods and also the rescue and intervention teams of your presence.
3) How to behave after an earthquake:
1. Do not immediately leave the area, room, apartment, house, building in which you felt the earthquake. Firstly give first aid to those affected by the earthquake. Calm down people who are panicking or frightened, especially younger children.
2. Help those who are injured or trapped under furniture, or light building blocks. Do not move those who are seriously injured - if they are not in immediate danger of being injured further from other causes - until they are given qualified health-care.
3. Make sure of the children, the sick, and elderly safety, providing them with appropriate clothing and footwear to the season in which the earthquake was triggered, for possible evacuations from the home or building for a specific period, from several hours to several days.
4. Do not use the phone except to call for an ambulance, fire brigade or the official group for assignments regarding post-disaster intervention, in justified cases, to not overload telephone lines.
5. If a fire has started, find ways to try to extinguish it on your own.
6. Do a preliminary check up of your electric wiring, gas, water, sewer, visually check the building's integrity. In case of finding damage, turn off the supply of any of these and notify the intervention unit. Do not use open flames.
7. Leave the building calmly, without taking unnecessary things with you, but first check the stairway and the exit so that they are not unsafe.
8. Just in case, try to prevent injuries caused by falling plaster, bricks etc. by exiting the building using a protective helmet or if do not have one a chair / stool or other objects: bag, satchel, thick books etc.
9. If when exiting you find jammed doors, act with calm to unlock. If you fail, and they have glass, proceed calmly to the breakage of the glass and clean up of the frame by using a chair, a vase etc. If you find that there are people trapped in the elevator, first calm them down, then ask for help from authorized people.
10. Avoid badly damaged buildings, except for those cases in which you want to perform rescue measures, which have to be undertaken with minimal threat to security and without taking unnecessary risks. Avoid being mistaken for criminals trying to break in into such buildings, do not overcrowd pointlessly the affected areas.
11. Assist the intervention teams to help or rescue people.
12. Listen only to the national broadcasting stations and to the recommendations for immediate action from authorized personnel.
13. Be mentally and physically prepared for an aftershock of the earthquake without panicking. Do not give credence to rumours that commonly occur immediately after earthquakes, although being apparently handled by so-called specialists!
14. On evacuation give priority to the wounded or children, elderly, women and abide by the recommendations of rescuers.
15. It is important that you have knowledge on how to survive in earthquake circumstances until the arrival of the rescue teams. In extreme situations, where you are caught under debris, overturned furniture or blocked in a room, place, elevator where the doors have jammed it is important you remember your facts.
16. First you must remain calm, restore confidence to those who are shocked, do not permit panic reactions among you, give first aid to those injured, and if you or another person in the group has the possibility to move create a bailout plan. Unlocking the pathway should be tried if the situation worsens, for example if the rubble and furniture start to shift.
A classical way of communicating with the outside world is to hit at regular intervals with a hard object the pipes or walls surrounding the enclosure, and if you have established verbal contact, provide the requested information and seek first aid. The local/county Emergency Situations Inspectorate will centre their specialized personnel into listening devices to identify places with trapped people.
Do not worry about the length of time elapsed until the rescue, because in such conditions, although time seems endless, the human body activate unsuspected resources to overcome a critical period. Thus, it can be explained how so many seemingly fragile people have survived under debris in our country in 1977, and in the whole world for countless hours.
4) Ways of checking the integrity of a building/home after the earthquake:
- collaborate with to the post-earthquake intervention teams to analyze building integrity, also for other activities undertaken by the authorities in charge.
- first check outside and then with caution verify the inside condition of the house, building to see the damage. After the first personal observations, it is better to contact an authorized specialist-expert in construction that you know in advance, or with whom you have an agreement or a contract for such situations - in the case of institutions and companies.
- if the structure has significant damage and the authorised teams have not arrived yet, ask the designated institutions ask the evaluation by specialists of the post earthquake state of the building and consider the continuation of future operations of designing and execution of repairs and strengthening, with the help of the union of owners or tenants.
- If the house you live in is in a state of structural damage evaluated by specialists with legal background as being severely affected by the earthquake, you will have to respect legal provisions and to adapt to the status of a distressed person. In this regard local public administration will take the necessary relocation measures.
- If you have taken out an insurance from a specialised company, properly inform yourself on how to act in order to legally record the complete damages made by the earthquake, in order to request compensation.