Drop, Cover, and Hold On: How It Can Save Your Life

If you have ever attended an earthquake preparedness class, you probably know what ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’ is. Experts agree that these are the appropriate actions to minimize the risk of injury and death during earthquakes. Here are a few reasons why they recommend these actions:

Attempting to move or change location while shaking increases your risks:

Earthquakes can occur without any warning. They can either be mild or violent, either way you will most likely get knocked to the ground if you attempt to stand upright. So, to avoid falling, it is best to drop to the ground before earthquake does. Dropping to the ground, covering and holding on to shelter gives you higher chances at protecting yourself against possible injuries.

Falling and flying objects pose the greatest danger:

Majority of earthquake-related injuries are caused by falling or flying objects such as glass, lamps, bookcases, and furniture. “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” minimizes the risk of injuries. Drop to a nearest furniture or interior wall to shield you from falling objects. Protect your head and neck using your arms.

Here is a YouTube video where you will learn more about disaster preparedness.

You can further minimize your risk for injury as well as damage to properties by securing furniture items well before an earthquake. Using flexible straps secure top heavy furniture onto the walls. You can use Velcro fasteners or earthquake putty for objects on shelves, cupboards, or other furniture. Install safety latches on cupboards and cabinets to prevent them from swinging open during an earthquake.

Sudden building collapse is less likely:

People always equate earthquakes with collapsed buildings. While such images of earthquake aftermath are truly frightening, most buildings do not collapse in an instant. Strict building codes make sure that buildings across the country are safe and can withstand the risk of an earthquake. Trained rescuers know how to locate and identify possible location of survivors – survivable void space.

The overall goal of “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” is to minimize the risk of getting injured due to flying or falling debris and other objects within the building. In addition, it may also increase your chances at being at a ‘survivable void space’ in the event that building does collapse. The space under sturdy furniture (such as a desk or table) will likely remain even after the total collapse of the building. Images of collapsed buildings would show that desks and tables can hold up to the weight of the rubble and provide a livable shelter below.

However, this initial response to earthquake may have limitations especially when you are in a country where building standards are not at par with minimum accepted earthquake safety standards. Furthermore, it is also not recommended when you are in unreinforced building, or an old building, with a heavy ceiling. In these situations, the best way is to evacuate the place and look for an open space, if possible.

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