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On September 30, 1993 an earthquake measuring just over six on the Richter scale hit the state of Maharahsta in India. The death toll was 30,000. Most of the houses in the area were made of mud brick.

In 1985 a quake of similar magnitude struck Tokyo, Japan. This time, however, there was no loss of life. What was the difference? For one thing, the buildings in Japan incorporated some important earthquake proof features. Ancient Japanese structures incorporated a variety of joins which allowed the building to flex under the shock of a quake. This has allowed Japanese castles and Pagodas to survive since Medieval times.
In modern buildings it is steel that gives a structure its flexibility. Not only may steel girders and beams be used, but steel reinforcing rods are threaded through walls, floors and concrete pillars. This sturdiness allows the building to bend in a quake.
Scientists have made great advances in the area of earthquake prediction. In February, 1975 seismologists predicted a quake that was about to strike Haich’eng in Liaoning Province in northeast China. Sure enough, on February 4th an earthquake of 7.3 struck the region. Fortunately, a mass evacuation of over one million people had been enforced. Though thousands of buildings were destroyed, there was little loss of life.
To predict a quake, geologists look for signs of deformation in the earth’s surface. It is believed that large plates of the earth’s outer crust are slowly moving over it’s surface. Geological faults exist where two plates come into contact. Where one plate juts into another, the ground may be thrust upward. Where one plate slides past another, there may be a horizontal displacement of lines crossing the fault. However, such movements amount to only a few inches per year and so are not easy to detect.
What, though, can you do, if you live in an area that has been given a quake warning?
It would be wise to arrange for your family to sleep in an open space. If you have camping equipment, this would be a good time to put it to use. Leave your car outside of the garage. Put some drinking water in containers and store them in a secure place. You should also place some canned or packaged food in an area that would be accessible if your home collapsed. Keep a first aid kit in a similar place. Plan alternative exit routes from your home if the usual access ways were blocked. Keep a flashlight within easy access.
Of course, if a major quake is forecast an evacuation will be ordered. In such a situation, you will want to get yourself and loved ones out of the area as quickly as possible. It will be difficult to leave your home and possessions behind to be possibly destroyed but the advance notice could well be a life-saver for you.
So, what’s the bottom line here? Do what you practically can to be prepared. And if a warning comes, act decisively and prudently. That way you’ll be a survivor.