What to do before, during and after an earthquake

San Juan lived a morning of fear after 6.4 earthquake on the Richter scale which was registered this Monday shortly before midnight.

With its epicenter at 54 kilometers southwest of the capital, in the town of Media Agua, head of the Sarmiento department, the phenomenon had a depth of 10 kilometers, reported theNational Institute for Seismic Prevention (Inpres).

Just three days after the 77th anniversary of the tragic earthquake of 1944, with a magnitude of 7.4, which caused the death of more than 10,000 people, the first reports reported minor damages this time although route 40 that unites the province with Mendoza broke in two.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) made a series of recommendations to act in the face of an emergency situation such as the one that crossed the Andean territory.

Its website indicates that globally, « more than a million earthquakes occur worldwide, resulting in an average of two earthquakes per minute« .

« An earthquake of great magnitude in an urban area is one of the worst natural disasters that can occur. During the last four decades (1970-2017), earthquakes have caused more than one million fatalities worldwide in Armenia, China, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Iran, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru and Turkey « , detailed the entity dependent on the World Health Organization (WHO).


Earthquakes: What to do before, during and after

Make a family plan that includes how to get in touch with other family members and where to meet. Learn how to act in the event of an earthquake; participate in drills in your community, workplace or school. Talk to your children about what to do if there is an earthquake and especially what to do if they are alone when it happens. Locate the safest places in your home, workplace, or school to protect yourself in the event of an earthquake and identify evacuation routes. Keep emergency phone numbers (civil defense, ambulance, hospitals, fire department, police, etc.) handy. Make sure you have enough emergency supplies such as clean water, non-perishable food, prescription drugs, first aid kit, batteries, radio, and pet food. Take important documents with you, such as passports or identity documents. Have an emergency backpack or kit ready in case you need to evacuate the area. If there is a pregnant woman in the family, pack a bag with medical documents, medications, and other things that might be necessary if she is hospitalized for delivery or for any complications.


During the earthquake

Stay calm and, if necessary, help calm the people who are with you. Stay away from windows and objects that could fall, such as loose power lines. Go to a safe place and take cover near a wall or sturdy furniture. In case evacuation is necessary, use the stairs, not the elevators. Go to a safe area. Follow the instructions of civil defense officials and other authorities. If you are trapped, try striking a metal object to make a noise. If you are on a public street or highway, stay away from utility poles and cables, as well as tall buildings.

After the earthquake

Check the conditions of your home. If you think it is not safe, notify the authorities and go to a temporary shelter or to the home of friends or family. Consult official sources for the most up-to-date information. Be careful around electricity, propane or natural gas lines, and sources of chemical hazards. Help your family and community by passing on messages of support and encouragement.


Health services

After an earthquake, make sure that all injuries are thoroughly evaluated by health personnel. The health services may also have suffered structural damage and are not always in a position to care for patients. It is important to determine which health centers and hospitals are operating. Health authorities will organize provisional care services. Go to one of them for any minor injury or for emergency psychological care

Safe drinking water and food

After an earthquake, it is very likely that drinking water will be scarce. Personal hygiene and hand washing are essential to prevent the spread of disease. This is especially important in an emergency situation. Drink bottled, boiled, or chlorine-sanitized water. Cook your food and wash your hands thoroughly before cooking. Make sure any bottled water you drink is tightly closed before you use it. Do not drink from the bottle if the seal is broken or twisted. Boiling water is a way to kill viruses, parasites, and bacteria that cause disease and may be present in the water. If you cannot boil your water, you can disinfect it with bleach or bleach (chlorine). Fruits and vegetables can be disinfected with a household bleach and water solution. The amount of chlorine to add to the water depends on the concentration in the product you are using. Read the label to determine the percentage of chlorine. Most household products have around 4% chlorine. At that concentration, add a teaspoon for every liter of water. Wash your hands with soap and clean water, or wipe often with an alcohol-based gel (hand sanitizer). Try to stay well hydrated and eat three times a day. Remember the five key points for food safety: wash your hands; make sure surfaces and utensils used in food preparation are properly sanitized; separate raw food from cooked food; cook food thoroughly and keep it at safe temperatures; use treated water and food that is in good condition. To maintain public hygiene, it is necessary to ensure adequate sanitation, waste disposal and food hygiene, and to take measures to prevent the proliferation of mosquitoes. Organize with your community to keep the streets and neighborhood clean together.

Women during pregnancy and lactation

Notify the nearest health care providers that you are pregnant, to ensure access to early care. It is important to report if you are taking a prescription drug during pregnancy. Try to be accompanied at all times by a family member or member of the community. This will help you manage stress and anxiety. Try to drink enough clean water, have a place to rest, and eat safe food. Women who are breastfeeding should continue to breastfeed, as breast milk is the safest food for babies. Even in difficult situations it is important to encourage mothers to breastfeed their children


People with chronic non-communicable diseases

Make sure you always have your medications in an emergency kit. Inform the health authorities about your illness and the treatment you are following, so that you can continue it in an emergency situation. If you have a non-communicable disease with acute complications (for example, diabetes or hypertension, or if you require dialysis) and you cannot access the medicines you take regularly, try to go to a health facility as soon as possible.

Loss and travel are among the most stressful situations you may have to deal with. It is important to be prepared to deal with feelings such as fear, pain, and depression. Remember to take care of yourself. Try to get at least six to eight hours of sleep a day and eat regularly. Communicate with family, friends, and members of your community. They probably feel like you. Be prepared to provide support and encouragement to others. It is important for people to know that it is normal to feel upset or afraid when disaster strikes. Managing these feelings in a healthy way will help you deal with them and recover more quickly. Disaster situations often affect children a lot. Talk to them and help them deal with their feelings after an earthquake.


Accident prevention

Inspect your home during the day and notify civil defense authorities if you detect structural damage. During debris removal tasks, wear a respirator or mask, closed shoes or boots, a helmet and, if possible, protective glasses, to avoid accidents. Check electrical equipment and natural gas or propane lines for any problems. Keep children and pets out of the home until you have finished cleaning it and have inspected the building structure. If you find dead animals, notify the health authorities or, if possible, cover them with lime.