Earthquake

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Earthquake Preparedness Information

Zagreb is located in a zone of HIGH seismic activity. There are several web sites like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) sites that provide useful information.

What to do before an Earthquake

Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning.  Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and planning in advance can reduce the possibility of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake.

Check for Hazards in the Home

  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in a low place.
  • Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds and couches.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets.

Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors

  • Load-bearing walls inside your property and large furniture that will not compress.
  • Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other top-heavy furniture that could fall over.
  • In an open outside location, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.

Educate Yourself and Family Members

  • Teach children how and when to call local emergency services and the embassy at phone number 01 661 2400.
  • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
  • Have a personal family emergency plan.

Have Disaster Supplies on Hand

  • Flashlight(s) and extra batteries and candles.
  • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Emergency canned and dry food supplies to last a couple days.
  • Bottled water for drinking to last a couple days.
  • Blankets, spare changes of clothes, rain gear, and heavy duty shoes.

Develop an Emergency Communication Plan

  • In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
  • The Department of State Operations Center monitors global disasters. They will be in contact with the Embassy.

What to do during an Earthquake

Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay there until the shaking has stopped.

If indoors

  • Depending on where you are – home or office – and depending on what is above you, think of the “Triangle of Life.”  Being beside a heavy object like a large couch is better than being under it.  Even if the couch is crushed, there will still be empty space beside it.
  • People who simply “duck and cover” when buildings collapse are sometimes crushed to death.
  • With as few steps as possible, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch against an outer load bearing wall, in a corner or next to large pieces of furniture.  It is much better to be near the outside of the building than the interior. The further inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures, and large wall hung objects like mirrors.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside.  Injuries can occur when people inside a building attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

If outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires, including tram and bus lines, and overhead wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls.  Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits.  Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
  • Use judgment about whether to stay in your car or not.

If trapped under debris

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.

What to do after an Earthquake

Think about possible aftershocks

  • These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.  Unfortunately, pre-shocks and aftershocks, like earthquakes themselves, are completely unpredictable.  It is impossible to tell whether the event you are experiencing is a pre-shock or the earthquake itself.

Report In

  • Let people know how you are doing.  Contact the Embassy using any means possible to advise them of your condition and location, and that of your family members.
  • Cell phones are highly oversubscribed and the infrastructure is vulnerable and will most likely not work after an earthquake, although SMS may be possible when voice is not.
  • Phone land lines will also most likely not be work following an earthquake.

Open cabinets cautiously

  • Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.

Stay away from damaged areas of the city

  • Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by the Embassy.

Clean up spills immediately

  • Medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids can be potentially hazardous.

Inspect your property

  • Look for damaged and dangerous conditions in and around the property.  If you feel the property has structural damage and may collapse – DO NOT ENTER.

Check for gas leaks

  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if it can be located. If you turn off the gas for any reason, DO NOT turn it back on.

Look for electrical system damage

  • If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main power panel.

Check for sewage and water line damage

  • If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets. If water pipes are damaged, shut off the main water supply. You should have safe drinking water in your disaster supplies.