Monday, 26 November 2007

Earthquake in Delhi

Did anyone notice that we had an earthquake last night? It measured 4.5 on the Richter scale and occurred some 20 kilometres underground on the Delhi-Haryana border. Evidently, the epicentre was at Bahadurgarh.

I hope no one was injured or killed and no homes were damaged. What does worry me is the fact that no one knows if the Delhi government is prepared to face an earthquake in the city. So I’ve been checking up on some foreign earthquake survival sites. Here’s some information that I got from the FEMA site. They’ve provided the following earthquake survival tips:

  • Create and practice a family/personal earthquake plan.

  • Bolt tall furniture to wall studs.

  • Tie down items, such as computers, televisions and bookcases, which might fall during an earthquake.

  • Install and use bolts and latches on cabinet drawers to prevent crockery falling out and causing damage.

  • Put large, heavy objects on lower shelves of cabinets and bookshelves to avoid breakage and damage.

  • Store breakable items in low, closed and latched cabinets.

  • Put flammable products and pesticides on the lower shelves of latched/bolted cabinets.

  • Hang heavy items away from walls and seating areas.

  • Lock overhead light fixtures.

  • Strap the water heater to wall studs and bolt down gas appliances.

  • Install flexible pipes to avoid water and gas leaks.

  • Repair deep cracks to ceilings or foundations.

  • Check to see if houses are bolted to foundations.

  • Get a structural design engineer to evaluate your home and advise on damage limitation.

  • Buy earthquake insurance.

In case you are in the house during an earthquake, get under a table or stand in the doorway.

According to the San Francisco Office of Emergency Services, these are some of the items you should keep in an emergency kit:

  • a gallon of water per person per day

  • ready to eat food

  • manual can opener and some cooking supplies

  • plates, utensils and feeding supplies

  • first aid kit (disposable gloves, sterile dressings, soaps, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, adhesive bandages, eye wash solution, scissors, anti-diarrhea medicines, pain relievers, laxatives, prescription medicines if needed and prescribed medical supplies)

  • copies of important documents and phone numbers

  • warm clothes and rain gear for all family members

  • heavy work gloves

  • disposable camera

  • unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification

  • personal hygiene supplies (toilet paper, soap, items of feminine hygiene)

  • plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife to cover broken windows

  • blanket or sleeping bags

  • large heavy-duty plastic bag and plastic bucket for sanitation

  • tools--crowbar, hammer and nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench, bungee cords

In case you have kids, elders or people with disabilities in the family, you need to provide for them as well. This particular site is very useful and gives all the details. They also list the items that each family member should carry in a Go bag. This should be carried at all times--an emergency can strike at any time--and includes the following items:

  • flashlight

  • battery-operated radio

  • batteries

  • whistle

  • dust mask

  • pocket knife

  • cash in small denominations for phone calls

  • shoes,.change of clothes, warm clothes

  • map of the city

  • water and food

  • permanent marker, paper and tape

  • photos of family members for ID purposes

  • list of emergency point-of-contact numbers

  • list of allergies to drugs or food

  • copies of health insurance and ID cards

  • additional prescription eye glasses, hearing aids or personal items

  • prescription medications and first aid supplies

  • toothpaste and toothbrush

  • duplicate keys to house and vehicles.

  • any items required by children, the elderly or disabled family members

If the US federal and local governments can help people understand how to deal with a disaster, why can’t our state and local governments do the same? Has the Delhi government developed a disaster plan for earthquakes? If so, have they done anything to publicise it? Today, the earthquake struck deep underground and no one was hurt. Tomorrow could be another story. Wake up, Mrs. Dikshit! If your government has a disaster management plan for earthquakes, please share it with the people of Delhi. Check the lists and suggestions made by agencies abroad--are these appropriate to Delhi conditions? If not, make your own and publicise the same. Let’s not have a disaster management plan after the earthquake--let’s be prepared.

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