Prediction, protection and preparation

Prediction

Prediction involves using seismometers to monitor Earth tremors. Experts know where earthquakes are likely to happen. However, it is very difficult to predict when they will happen. Even looking at the timescale between earthquakes doesn't seem to work.

Protection

Many areas prone to earthquake hazards now use building codes. Any new building or adjustment to existing buildings must be carried out to strict guidelines to help protect people from future earthquake hazards. Protection involves constructing buildings so that they are safe to live in and will not collapse. Some examples of building improvements are:

  • rubber shock absorbers in the foundations to absorb the Earth tremors
  • steel frames that can sway during Earth movements
  • open areas outside of the buildings where people can assemble during an evacuation
  • low-cost methods such as wire mesh retrofitting are used in rural areas and low income countries (LICS) - these are affordable and appropriate to the resources and people living there
  • Lightweight roofs designed to reduce damage and injury
An earthquake-proof tower block has steel frames that can sway, has rubber shock absorbers in the foundations, and has open areas outside for people to assemble.Example of an earthquake-proof building

Preparation

In earthquake-prone countries, hospitals, emergency services and residents practise for an earthquake. They have drills in all public buildings so that people know what to do in the event of an earthquake. This helps to reduce the impact and increases their chance of survival.