Earthquake: lessons learned

Written on: September 27, 2017

In: Thoughts by Elisa Coleclough


I wanted to share some thoughts on my earthquakes experience. As you may have already heard in the news, about week ago an earthquake took place in Mexico City. Many buildings shattered into pieces, human lives were lost and economic loss is massive as well. That earthquake took place exactly on the 19th of September, on the anniversary of another dreadful event back 32 years ago.


Back then I was child, I remember one morning the house started shaking and twisting like gum. At that time, I did not understand the risk. Naively, I wanted to take out of the house my toys and teddy bears. I ran thru the hall-way to my room to get some of my toys, and remember things falling down and the floor literally moving. My parents and granny were desperate trying to get me back outside. Fortunately, nothing happened to my family or my house. However, there were many lives lost and dozens of buildings fell down.


Back then, we were not prepared to act in case of an emergency. That lesson learned for all the Mexican population was painful but definitely we all took steps to make buildings more secure, to know how to act and ultimately save our lives.


When I think about it, Mexico-city born are very used to the earthquakes, it is said that there is one earthquake per day, but they are so small that we do not feel them. We take things seriously, so I wanted to share with you some lessons learned and if you live in a country where earthquakes are not common ground, congratulations, you might one day, travel or visit a place in which earthquakes happen. So better be prepared. Here are some simple suggestions that may help you stay in control.


  • Get a grip of yourself. In case of a real-life event, remain calm, follow the instructions and if you cannot leave the building, hide yourself under a desk or a table or under the frame of a door. This is the triangle of life.


  • Also avoid places hear windows or falling objects.


  • Do not shout, it is obvious, but if you do, there might be some instructions being given to evacuate and you need to listen to them.


  • Take into account that every time you travel you need to have a copy of all your documents, especially one stored in the “cloud”. Just in case the originals are lost or damaged you have a copy of them and you can request to your embassy for assistance.


  • Inform yourself. When we travel, we need to be aware if the place we are visiting is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, snow or sand storms, fires, or tornadoes, just to mention some. In case that is the case, you make sure you ask for safety recommendations just in case.


  • If you happen to experience earthquake in real life, it is normal to feel a little bit disoriented afterwards, do not panic.


  • If you cannot help, please follow instructions and clear the place to allow trained people to assist.


  • Do not use your phone. Try not to use it, because the lines get saturated, even if not physically affected by the earthquake. Lines need to be used in case of real emergencies.


But do not worry, statistically, 95% of the times earthquakes are not fatal as this last one. Additionally, more and more new building in Cities like Mexico City are engineered and equipped to resist earthquakes.


I can tell you, that I was faced with another kind of emergency.  While I was in Kansas, about 8 years ago, an actual tornado passed the building in which I was working. Although I had been trained about the shelter and what to do in case of real emergency, when the alarm went off, I could not believe that was happening. I simply followed everyone, stayed calm and quiet, and fortunately the tornado did not hit the building so nothing happened.


When a situation is new to you and you do not know what is happening, you feel nervous, or disoriented and a rush of adrenaline flows thru you, but it is better to be prepared and simply follow the instructions. Eventually, you will regain control of your emotions and everything will be fine.


Please share with me if you experience any real emergencies, have the taken you off guard? Were you able to help? Did you know how to act? Share your experiences with me. Have a great day/week, Eli