Dubai Municipality’s earthquake advice: When in doubt, wait it out

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Emirate safe from tremors, predicting earthquakes not possible

Did you run out of your house or office during the recent tremors? Dubai Municipality has warned against doing so.

In a new advisory to residents in the emirate, Dubai Municipality said it is dangerous to rush out of buildings while the tremors are still on. “People should stay calm. If they are indoors, continue to stay put. Ideally, stand against a wall near the centre of the building, stand in a doorway or crawl under heavy furniture, like a desk or a table,” says Prof Kamal Mohammed Atiya, an expert on Seismology at the Dubai Municipality.

He however added that residents should ensure the furniture is strong enough before they decide to take shelter under it, and avoid weak ones especially those built using MDF.

Mohammed Mashroom, Director of the Survey department reiterated that Dubai residents need not “freak out,” and the emirate is “safe and far away from the danger zone.”

According to him, most buildings in Dubai including the old structures can withstand tremors that are caused by earthquakes occurring in Iran and in distant areas such as Pakistan.

“We recently carried out a seismic hazard study and I am glad to say that Dubai uses a seismic code that is much higher than the minimum requirements. Buildings in Dubai can withstand an earthquake with a magnitude of 6 on the Richter Scale and even upto 7 provided it is 30 kms away,” said Mashroom.

Rubbishing recent reports about the possibility of an earthquake in the region, he said “We still do not have the capability to predict earthquakes. However, based on our studies we have determined that the seismic plates passes through the middle of Iran and nowhere in the UAE,” he said and added that Dubai Municipality’s 13 seismic detection stations is pretty accurate in determining the data and alters key decision makers within seconds of an earthquake.

Recent reports and rumors quoting US Geological Survey had said there could be tremors in the UAE between April 25 and 30 at a magnitude of 9.99.

Meanwhile, according to Atiya, there are only four buildings in Abu Dhabi that are equipped with the technology that can immediately send out an alarm in case of any structural damage.

“The system works on sensors placed in different locations within a structure. In the eventuality of a tremor, and in case there is a structural damage, it immediately sends out an alarm for evacuation. The system costs millions and is installed only in four buildings in the country and all of them are in Abu Dhabi,” he added.

Meanwhile here is how you can be prepared for an earthquake:

Earthquake emergency kit

1. Flashlight

2. Extra batteries

3. Portable battery –operated radio

4. First aid kit and first aid manual

5. Canned Food

6. At least three gallons of water per person

7. Non-electric can opener

8. Essential medicines (including prescription medications)

9. Protective clothing and rainwear

10. Sleeping bag

11. Sturdy shoes

12. Rescue & Repair Tools

13. Fire Extinguisher

What you need to do before an earthquake:

1. Prepare Earthquake Emergency Kit

2. Establish Earthquake Plan at your home or workplace

3. Learn first aid.

4. Get training on how to use a fire extinguisher from your local fire department. Training will help you to keep calm and know what to do when an earthquake occurs.

5. Learn how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity.

6. Don’t leave heavy objects on shelves (they’ll fall during a quake).

7. Anchor heavy furniture, cupboards, and appliances to the walls or floor.

8. Learn the earthquake plan at your school or workplace.

9. Inform guests, babysitters, and caregivers of your plan. Everyon in your home should know what to do if an earthquake occurs. Assure yourself that others will respond properly even if you are not at home during the earthquake.

10. Discuss earthquakes with your family. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing earthquakes ahead of time helps reduce fear and anxiety and lets everyone know how to respond.

11. Know Safe Spots in Every Room (i.e. Sturdy Tables, Desks)

12. Know Dangerous Spots in Every Room (i.e. Windows, Hanging Objects, Fireplace, Appliances)

What to do during an earthquake:

1. Stay There! Do NOT Run Outside

2. Stay Calm & Remember the Phase, “Duck, Cover, and Hold”

3. Stand against a wall near the center of the building, stand in a doorway, or crawl under heavy furniture (a desk or table).

4. Stay away from windows and outside doors. It is very dangerous to try to leave a building during an earthquake.

5. Don’t use matches, candles, or any flame.

6. Don’t use elevators (they’ll probably get stuck anyway).

7. If you’re outdoors, stay in the open away from power lines or anything that might fall. Stay away from buildings (stuff might fall off the building or the building could fall on you).

8. If you’re in a car, pull over to a clear location, stop the car and stay inside the car until the earthquake stops.

9. Stay Away from Bridges, Overpasses & Tunnels.

10. In Mountainous Area stay away from: Falling Rocks & Other Debris

11. On the Beach/Ocean Front: Move to Higher Ground or Several Hundred Yards Inland

What to do after an earthquake:

1. Check yourself and others for injuries. Provide first aid for anyone who needs it.

2. Check water, gas, and electric lines for damage. If any are damaged, shut off the valves. Check for the smell of gas. If you smell it, open all the windows and doors, leave immediately, and report it to the authorities.

3. Turn on the radio. Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency. Stay out of damaged buildings.

4. Be careful around broken glass and debris.

5. Wear boots or sturdy shoes to keep from cutting your feet.

6. Do Not Turn on or Off any Lighting or Electrical Devices.

7. Inspect your home for damage. Examine walls, floor, doors, staircases, and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing. Get everyone out if your home is unsafe. Aftershocks following earthquakes can cause further damage to unstable buildings. If your home has experienced damage, get out before aftershocks happen.

8. Stay away from damaged areas.

9. If you’re at school or work, follow the emergency plan or the instructions of the person in charge.

10. Expect aftershocks. Each time you feel one, drop, cover, and hold on! Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks even months following an earthquake.

11. Listen to a portable, battery-operated radio (or television) for updated emergency information and instructions.

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