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How to prepare for an earthquake

Structural resistance of the building

Building collapse is the principle cause of injury in an earthquake. The most important (!) way of preventing loss of life and property damage in an earthquake is to ensure that the building we live in is earthquake proof. It pays to consult a structural engineer with the appropriate training, if the house we live in complies with the Israeli Standard for Structural Resistance to Earthquakes (IS 413).

• Buildings constructed before 1980 apparently do not conform to this Standard and we must take measures to reinforce them as quickly as possible!

• Buildings constructed after 1980 are built in conformance with the Standard for Resistance to Earthquakes and should be able to withstand an earth tremor.

• Buildings with a secure space (Mamad) are in better condition to withstand an earthquake.

The national plan for reinforcement of buildings to withstand earthquakes (Tama 38) establishes a legal framework for the issue of building permits, to make buildings earthquake-proof, and encourages compliance with the plan by awarding additional building rights for the purpose of financing, if only partially, the reinforcement of buildings.
Buildings constructed on the basis of building permits issue before 1.1.1980 are entitled to the benefit of additional building rights according to Tama 38.

Preparing the building
Injury to people during an earthquake is caused, in many cases, by the collapse of heavy shelves and objects, slivers of broken glass, fire and leaking gas. It is therefore smart, right from the present, to:

• move pictures or shelves hanging above beds of the family members that may endanger them while they sleep.

• ensure that any new attachments to the walls or ceiling – shelves, air conditioners or other objects – are properly fastened.

• secure objects already attached to the walls: bookshelves, television, and other kinds of shelves.

• provide strong support for hot water hearers, solar heaters, propane gas tanks, air conditioners and compressors.

• Store inflammable and poisonous substances in a locked room, far from any source of heat.

• keep heavy objects low down.
Basic family drills

• Together with other members of your family and in accordance with the instructions listed above, choose in advance a secure place in the house and also at work that you will go to in the event of an earthquake. For example, a Mamad, a stairwell in a multi-story building, an open area in a one-family home or ground floor apartment.

• Show all members of the family where the main electrical switches and gas and water supply cocks are, and then practice opening and closing them.

• Decide on a place in an open area where the family will meet. Decide on a contact person outside the family to whom you can all turn in case of a breakdown in communications.

• From time to time, it is a good idea to hold a family exercise in earthquake preparedness.
Family emergency equipment and supplies

It is a good idea to prepare emergency equipment and supplies and to keep them in an accessible place, such as in the secure space. The equipment should include:

• Water and food – Stock up on water (at least 4 liters per person) and canned food (of the kind you have in the house in any case). Be sure to replenish or replace the food and water before they reach expiration date.

• Essential equipment – First aid kit, battery-operated flashlight (torch) and radio, medications, spare eyeglasses, baby equipment.

• Important documents – photocopy or digital scan of medical documents, identification papers, personal papers and financial papers to be kept in a different place, outside the home – as backup.

Following is a short film on earthquake preparation: