Do you know what to do in an earthquake?

In August Gauteng experienced first a magnitude 5.5 earthquake centred in Orkney, and then a 3.8 magnitude earthquake near Orange Farm. Seismologists have warned that more are on the way but do South Africans know what to do in a quake? The DAILY VOX asked around.

Muzi MthembuMuzi Mthembu, 27, actor, Johannesburg
I honestly do not know what I would do. When the first tremor happened I was not scared but I do not know the protocol to follow. For now, I am not losing sleep over possible earthquakes happening because there are qualified professionals that will tell me what to do. There is so much uncertainty but even if I knew, what can I do when the world is falling apart?

Kristiana BruneauKristiana Bruneau, 30, health communications researcher, Johannesburg
I am slightly obsessed with earthquakes, so I have read up what to do during one. It is advised that you do not try to run because that is the most common way to people die or get hurt. If you are in a building wait until the tremor ends before trying to exist the building, and try to find a structure that will protect like a table.

Thabisa YekiThabisa Yeki, 32, government employee, Cape Town
I would grab my son and run, just so the building doesn’t fall on us. I would be afraid to lose shelter; my cellphone I don’t really care about. Where am I going to find a place to sleep? When I hear about earthquakes in Jo’burg I think ‘F–k, they’re screwed.’


Andrea ScheepersAndrea Scheepers, 29, administrator, Cape Town
Run for the doorframe. Apparently, that’s the strongest part of the house, so that’s where you go and stand. I would grab my child if she was with me. When I heard about [the quake in] Jo’burg, I just thought ‘Are we next?’ There’s some fault line that runs through Milnerton, and there’s been an earthquake years ago, so we are on a fault line.


Running for the doorframe sounds like the logical thing to do but apparently we’re all wrong on that count. The US’s Federal Emergency Management Agency advises the following:

If indoors

  • Drop to the ground; take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and hold on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.

If outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls.


– Image via Wikimedia Commons

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