DO’S & DON’TS IN EARTHQUAKE, FIRE, CYCLONE
Earthquakes are caused by natural tectonic interactions with in the earth’s crust and are global phenomena. They strike suddenly unleashing enormous energy, virtually no warning, and are unpredictable. Therefore preventive measures for ensuring safety of buildings, structures, communication facilities, water supply lines, electricity, and life, are of utmost priority.
A.1 PRE-DISASTER: PREVENTIVE MEASURES
Before an Earthquake what people should do? (Awareness)
· Keep in mind that most problems from a severe earthquake result from falling objects and debris (partial or complete collapse of building, ceiling plaster, light fixtures, etc.) rather than from ground movement. Ground movements do occur when ground is susceptible to failures by liquefaction or land sliding.
· Shelves for bookcases, etc., should be firmly fixed to the walls. Remove heavy objects from shelves above head level. Do not hang plants in heavy pots that could swing free of hooks. Bookshelves, cabinets, or wall decorations can topple over and fall.
· Locate beds away from the windows and heavy objects that could fall. Don’t hang mirrors or picture frames directs over beds and benches.
· Secure appliances that could move, causing rupture of gas or electrical lines. Know location of master switches and shut-off valves.
· Make sure that over-head lighting fixtures are well secured to the ceiling and move heavy unstable objects away from exit routes.
· Replace glass bottles with plastic containers or move them to the lowest shelves.
· Be aware that with a severe earthquake, all services, such as, electric/water, will probably be down. Emergency services may be extremely limited for few days.
· Store or have easy access to emergency supplies (water, long lasting, ready-to-eat food, first aid kit, medicine, tools, portable radio, flashlight, fresh batteries, blankets, warm jacket, fire extinguisher) in a secure place at your residence, or, in your car.
A.2 What to Do during an Earthquake
Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
A.2.1 If indoor
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.
· Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
· Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load bearing doorway.
· Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
· Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
· DO NOT use the elevators as power may have failed.
· Do not run for staircase, since these may usually sustain more damage than level surfaces. Exits may also be affected/blocked.
· OR get under a desk or a sturdy table or brace yourself within a narrow hallway or doorway, making sure that the door cannot close on your hands. If unable to move, cover your head and body with your arms, pillows, blankets, books, etc. to protect yourself from falling objects.
Avoid high bookcases, mirrors, cabinets or other furniture that might topple
A.2.2 If outdoors
· Stay there. Stay in an open area until tremors stop.
· 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. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls.
· Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
A.2.3 If in a moving vehicle
· Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires. Do not remain next to masonry structures or high-rise buildings. Do not remain on or under bridges and flyovers
· Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
· While driving, watch for earthquake-created hazards, such as falling objects, downed power lines, broken or undermined roadways and bridges.
A.2.4 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.
· Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
A.3 POST-DISASTER ACTIVITIES
Earthquake is followed by minor earthquakes called aftershocks.
· Stay calm. Do not panic. Await or solicit information from Official Sources.
· Most injuries occur while people enter or leave buildings, so stay where you are, when the tremors occur. Use your judgement, if the location you are seem vulnerable to aftershocks.
· Wear sturdy shoes to protect your feet from possible broken glass.
· Check for injuries. Apply first aid.
· Do not attempt to move anyone seriously injured. .
· Check for fire.
· Check utilities for damage: evacuate the building if a gas leak is suspected. Do not light matches or turn on electricity until you are certain there are no gas leaks.
· Avoid downed power lines.
· Check for structural damage; clear blocked exits.
· Check radio and phones and listen official broadcasts. Do not use the phone except for an emergency.
· Use extreme caution when close to masonry structures.
· For several days after a severe earthquake; be prepared for aftershocks. These are common following a large earthquake and can cause additional damage to weakened structures.
B. URBAN FIRE
Urban Fires are Man-made disasters, and lives and properties worth crores of rupees are lost. The phases in the development of an urban fire are outbreak, development, spread and extinction. Besides cataclysmic natural events, urban fires are caused by electrical faults (in an estimated 35-40 per cent of cases), human carelessness or malevolence, the lack of supervision of a naked flame, or the uncontrolled product of a chemical or physical reaction. Once the flame is ignited it would either go out by itself or spread in its initial surroundings at a variable speed. As it develops, the fire would produce heat, and hot gases, which are potentially toxic or chemically aggressive.
The spread of fire in urban areas depends on the structure and materials of buildings, their volumes and partitions or spacing. Doors, windows, facades, ducts and holes may provide shafts that act as vectors for the spread of the fire. The risk to people, rather than property, depends on their location and concentration, their perception of the hazard, and the potential for rapid evacuation via safe routes. Particular problems are likely to result from the rapid destruction early in the fire of “nerve centres” such as communications headquarters and the nodes of warning systems.
The risk can be reduced greatly by structural and non-structural measures. Extinguishers, sprinklers, hoses, hydrants, evacuation routes and fire sensors are all well-known structural approaches. Evacuation drills designed for cases of fire hazard can be combined with those created for natural hazards such as earthquakes. Fire hazards can be investigated in terms of all phases, producing information on where and when fires are likely to break out, how they are likely to develop and spread and with what degree of rapidity this is likely to occur. Fire-fighting plans must be based on this sort of knowledge and prediction.
B.1 HOW FIRES START AND SPREAD IN URBAN AREAS
· Malicious ignition by intruders or employees
· Misuse of electrical equipment
· Cigarettes and matches
· Mechanical heat and sparks
· Heating plant
· Children play with matchboxes and crackers
B.2 Fire Prone Material
· Waste and Rubbish
· Combustible elements in the structure and fittings
· Electrical Insulation
· Textiles & Plastics
· Wood and Paper
· Flammable Liquids
· Packaging and wrapping material
B.3 Reasons for Spreading
· Presence of large quantities of combustible materials
· Lack of fires separating walls between production and storage areas
· Opening in floors and walls between departments
· Rapid burning of dust and “fly” deposits
· Oils and fats flowing when burning
· Combustible linings of roofs, ceilings and walls
B.4 FIRE PROTECTION / RESCUE
· Identification of high risk area
· Installation of hydrants
· Provision of static water tanks
· Provision of passive & active fire protection system
· Provisions of adequate means of escape with exit signs
· Establishment of fire station with proper adequate appliance & equipment/manpower
· Co-ordination with other essential services by local administration (water supply, electricity, pwd, army etc.)
· Proper communication network
B.5 Prevention & Control
The Objectives Of a Fire Prevention and Control Programme Can Be Started Simply As Under:-
· To Plan and Control Low Hazard Buildings, Processes Needed.
· To Provide Fire Control & Suppression Equipment Wherever Needed.
· To Maintain the Equipment In Readiness.
· To Educate & Train Employees in Loss Prevention and Proper Action in Emergencies.
· Fire Order Publication & To Ensure That It Is Implemented.
· Establishment of Industrial Fire Brigade with Modern Appliance/Equipments/Fire Professionals.
· Mutual Fire Aid Programme
· Fire Prevention Inspection Audit.
· Fire Line.
B.6 VILLAGE FIRE
Incidents of Fire occurring in rural areas; particularly during summer season is high and it is compounded by wind. Fire is normally caused by accident and negligence. The common causes are:
· Kitchen fires/drying of fire wood/thatch roof
· Naked flame from oil lamps & wicks
· Careless smoking
· Careless disposal of ash/amber
· Careless burning of disposal/rubbish
· Spontaneous combustion
· Dry grass fires (the recent bharatpur fire accident)
· Display of fireworks during festival
· Malicious ignition
Villages are Fire prone due to the spread of Bio-wastes (straw) /dry thatching materials etc. Due to dense and close living lifestyle like burning woods, open cooking, spreading of agricultural waste materials etc. are the major causes.
· The habit of taking fire from one house to another carelessly are also one of the causes.
· Neglecting to put off the fire in hearth during day time and night.
· Smoking habits and throwing cigarette buds.
· Inadequate availability of water and sand occasionally becomes problems.
· Wind increases the vulnerability of an area.
B.7 PREVENTIVE MEASURES
· Non combustible Construction
· Mud Plastering
· Use of Lantern
· No Naked Flame Without Attendant
· Careful Disposal of Ash/Amber/Cigarette/Bidi
· Careful Stacking of Hays (Maximum Height of 8 Mtrs. & 20 Mtrs. Away)
· Storage Precaution of Fuels
· Public Education On Fire Prevention
· Fire Retardant Treatment Of Structural Materials
· Educating the people, making them aware, especially children, women, and people who smoke
· Discourage children to handle fire/fireworks/crackers etc.
· Keep the children away from the fire
· Keep the village premises clean to avoid fire spreading. Dry materials spread in the floor accentuate fire spreading.
· Earmark – nominate persons in a village to be vigilant by turn
· Keep adequate water, sand etc, in the village common place for putting off in the event of fire
· In case of fire, try to put off, alerting the people, community and simultaneously contact the Fire Service Phone No. 101
· Fire Extinguishers be kept in the suitable place in an easiest accessible way
· In frequently fire prone villages, water tank with adequate water to be stored at.
B.8 FIRE PROTECTION
· Provision of water
· Fire pickets
· Training of volunteers at village level
· Portable pumping unit
· Ladders/ceiling hooks/fire beaters/fire buckets/shovels/stack drag/stirrup pumps/portable extinguishers etc.
B.9 DURING THE FIRE
· Once fire occurs; the people should locally assemble and put it off at the earliest possible opportunities by collecting people and through communities’ efforts
· If it is adjoining forest area, steps to be taken like fire line clearance so that the fire would not spread from village to the forest areas and vice versa
· The cattle if any, tied near the fire occurred area they may be removed as fast as possible by unloosing them
· Steps to be taken to prevent fire spreading by dismantling structures in adjacent areas and also simultaneously pouring water or sand or even beating the fire with fresh twigs
· Steps to be taken immediately to evacuate, if anyone is trapped in fire
· Special steps to be taken to remove the children and the old
· First Aid is to be given to the injured and they are to be rushed to the nearest hospital. The hospital is to be alerted about the injured and burnt victims on the way
· The cause of the fie is to be investigated, if there is any criminal involvement, male-violence and it has to be investigated as per law
· A detailed report is to be prepared about the occurrence and the damage impact and to be made available to those who need
· Compensation and relief to those eligible and affected are to be given according to the loss and to the vulnerability
· Insurance against crops, houses, straw/grains stored place, cattle etc. to be encouraged and to be done
· Houses could be insured against Fire and Natural calamities
· A vigilant Community, Village Council and District Administration can keep the hazards of fire off.
B.10 ELECTRICAL DISASTER AND FIRE
Electricity is a necessity in our lives. Although electricity is readily accessible and safe when used properly, it is important to follow necessary safety precautions.
B.11 USE ELECTRICITY SAFELY
If an appliance emits smoke or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately and have it repaired. Replace any electrical cord that is cracked or frayed. Do not overload extension cords or run them under rugs.
· Do not tamper with fuses. This is potential fire hazard
· Do not overload circuits. Overload may cause the wires to heat and may ignite insulation or other
· Replace or repair electrical appliances that over heat, spark, smoke, or have cracked or frayed cords
· Wiring installations should always be made by a licensed electrician or other qualified person
· Use light bulbs of the voltage recommended for the lamp and ceiling fixtures
· Never break off the third prong on a plug
· Do not use extension cords for permanent wiring. They may not be able to carry the load.
· Ensure lamps are free from contact with inflammable material
· Heaters Need Space: Keep heaters at least 3 feet (1 meter) from anything that can burn. Never leave heaters on when you leave home/office and keep children and pets away from them.
B.12 ELECTRICAL WIRING
Most electrical fires result from problems with “fixed wiring” such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords and plugs, such as extension and appliance cords, also cause many home electrical fires. In urban areas, faulty wiring accounts for 33% of the residential electrical fires. Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas
· Replace any electrical cord that has cracked insulation or a broken connector
· Do not exceed the amperage load specified for extension cords
· Do not run extension cords across doorways or where they can be stepped. Do not plug one extension cord into another and never plug more than one extension cord into an outlet.
· Cords should not be hung on nails, run over or wrapped around objects, knotted or twisted. This may break he wire or insulation. Short circuits are usually caused by bare wires touching, due to breakdown of insulation
· Pull the plug: Not the cord. Pulling the cord could break a wire, causing a short circuit
B.13 ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES
· The home appliances most often involved in electrical fires are electric stoves, oven, dryers, central heating units, televisions, radios and record players
· Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring
· Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old and damaged appliance cords immediately
· Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them
· Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen
· Do not allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers
· Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters
· If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord
· Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to “child-proof” electrical outlets
· Check the electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks
· Plug the microwave or any other large appliances into an outlet that is not shared with other appliances
· Ensure switch plates, outlets or cords are not warm to touch
· Be aware of the odour of burning plastic or wire
· Keep heat-producing appliances away from anything that might catch fire. Leave plenty of space for air to circulate around copy machines, computer terminals, and other equipment that gives off heat
· Designate an employee to make sure all appliances – including coffee makers and hotplates – are turned off or unplugged at the end of each day
· Keep storage areas, stairways, and other out-of-the-way locations free from waster paper, empty boxes, dirty rags, and other fire hazards
B.14 DON’T FUSS WITH FUSE THE BOX
The electric control panel, commonly called a fuse box, is where the electricity enters the building. The control panel contains either fuses or circuit breakers and has a main switch for shutting off all power in case of an emergency. For safety’s sake, follow these basic rules:
· Unless you are an electrician, never attempt to make repairs, especially those involving broken or frayed wires. Always call an electrician.
· Always use the correct fuse for the panel never use a fuse that is too powerful.
· Never replace fuses with substitute items.
· Make sure all electrical systems are properly grounded, and always keep water away from the control panel.
B.15 INDOOR SAFETY PINS
To be safe, we recommend that wiring be installed and/or inspected by a licensed electrician. Your house or School may be inadequately wired if:
· Lights dim and motors slow down when an appliance goes on.
· Fuses blow or circuit breakers trip frequently.
· Toasters or iron fails to heat properly.
· The television picture shrinks.
· Turn main power off before replacing a fuse or adjusting circuit breakers
· Install outlets with a ground fault interrupter (GFI) whenever water/moisture is nearby.
· Never pull a plug out by the cord.
· Regularly check wires, extension cords and appliances for signs of wear.
· Use appliances and power tools with three pronged plugs.
· Never touch appliances, wires or electrical switches with wet hands or feet.
· Turn television set and other appliances off during a lightning storm.
· Smoke alarms are essential. They must be properly located, vacuumed and tested regularly.
· Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher in your home. It should be checked every six months.
· If there are small children in your house, use plastic safety caps in unused outlets.
· Never insert metal object into an appliance without disconnecting the appliance.
· Set your water heater at the “medium” setting to avoid burns.
· Stay away from downed wire.
· Should not come within 10 feet of an overhead power line unless they’ve been trained to work around power lines and have appropriate protective equipment.
· If a power line falls on the vehicle you’re in, stay put until rescue or utility workers arrive. (It is safe to use a cellular phone to call for help). If you must get out of your vehicle because of hazards,
jump away so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground.
· Never build a shed or other structure under the power line leading to your house.
· Fire fighting in case of electrical fire, fire fighting medium should be non-conductive and nonmagnetic.
B.16 DO’S AND DON’TS
Remember, electricity always tries to reach the ground. It travels over “conductors” or anything that allows electricity to flow. People, water, tree, damp ground, and metal are excellent (bad for people! Right?) conductors.
· Touching a faulty appliance, plug, or bare wire can make you part of the electric circuit and put you at risk of electric shock
· Frayed wires are dangerous anywhere. It should be repaired at once, or better yet, replaced.
· Replace inflexible electric cords
· Repair any appliance that sparks, emits smoke, or shocks you
· Don‘t use any appliance while you’re touching metal pipes and faucets or anything wet
· Outlets near water sources (bathrooms, kitchen sinks, garages, outdoors) should be “ground fault circuit interrupter” protected
· Never touch an electric cord or appliance while your hands are wet
· Unplug appliance before cleaning them or removing anything from them
· Don’t yank the cord when unplugging appliances.
· Keep work areas clean. Oily rags, newspapers, and sawdust can catch fire from electric sparks.
· Never overload a circuit with high-voltage appliances. Check the voltage on your appliances labels and be sure the combined voltage of all the appliances you want to plug into the same circuit does not exceed the circuit rating.
· Never use electric power tools or appliances in the rain or while standing in water.
· For outdoor locations; use only lights, cords, and fixtures intended for outdoor use. Plug into outlets with a “ground fault circuit interrupter”
· If the fire is confined to an appliance, electrical cord, outlet, or switch, shut off the power by opening your main breaker, which is usually located near the electric meter; or shut off the circuit breakers at your electric service panel; or unscrew the fuses at the fuse box. Do this only if you can do so without endangering yourself.
· If you live in an apartment, use the stairs to leave the building. Never use an elevator during a fire. It might take you to the floor where the fire is burning.
· There are three basic “type” of portable fire extinguisher. Type A: Ordinary combustibles, such as wood, clothe, paper, rubber, and many plastics. Type B: Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, grease, tar, oil-based paint, lacquer and flammable gas. Type C: Energized electrical equipment including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery, and appliances.
[Note: Now, there are fire extinguishers which can be used for all Types A, B & C fires]
· Be sure you are fighting a fire with the proper extinguisher. It is particularly dangerous to use water or Type A extinguisher on a grease or electrical fire. Using the wrong type of extinguisher for the fire you’re fighting may make the fire worse!
· NEVER USE WATER on an electrical fire! Water can carry the electricity back to you and you could receive a deadly shock.
· Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice an escape plan frequently.
A tropical cyclone is a rotational low pressure system in tropics when the central pressure falls by 5 to 6 hPa from the surrounding and maximum sustained wind speed reaches 34 knots (about 62 kmph). It is a vast violent whirl of 150 to 800 km, spiralling around a centre and progressing along the surface of the sea at a rate of 300 to 500 km a day.
The word cyclone has been derived from Greek word ‘cyclos’ which means ‘coiling of a snake’. The word cyclone was coined by Heary Piddington who worked as a Rapporteur in Kolkata during British rule. The terms "hurricane" and "typhoon" are region specific names for a strong tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones are called “Hurricanes” over the Atlantic Ocean and “Typhoons” over the Pacific Ocean.
C.1. In the Cyclone Seasons:
1. Listen to radio or TV weather reports and in case of a cyclone warning, ensure that everyone is alerted. This is usually done through loudspeakers or by going from house to house.
2. Identify safe shelters (cyclone shelters, pucca buildings, etc) in your area, and the closest and safe route to reach them.
3. Keep an emergency kit ready at home.
4. Check your house and surrounding areas to see if it is secure. Doors, windows, the roof and walls should be strengthened before the cyclone season through retrofitting, repair, etc.
5. Store adequate food grains and water in safe places.
6. Keep your important papers in the emergency kit.
7. Keep a list of emergency addresses and phone numbers such as the local police station, Block or taluka office (in rural areas) in display.
8. Conduct mock drills for yourselves, imagining that a warning has been given.
C.2. Upon A Cyclone Warning:
1. Listen to your local radio, TV or community warning system for further information.
2. Close all windows and doors. Secure doors and stay indoors.
3. Keep food items in waterproof bags.
4. Prepare or update a list of assets and belongings of your house and give information to volunteers and other authorities about your near and dear ones.
5. Get the emergency kit ready and in case of warning of a severe cyclone, move with your family to a strong pucca building or cyclone shelter.
6. Do not venture into the sea.
7. Wear warm clothing for protection.
C.3. If You Have To Evacuate:
1. Keep track of radio updates and advice.
2. If the wind suddenly drops, do not venture out, as this could be the eye of the cyclone. Wait until the official ‘all clear’ declaration.
3. If in a vehicle, stop, but away from the sea and trees, power lines and water courses.
C.4. After The Cyclone:
1. Do not go out till officially advised that it is safe. If evacuated, wait till advised to go back. Use the recommended route for returning and do not rush.
2. Check for gas leaks before using the stove.
3. Dry electric appliances thoroughly before use.
4. Be Careful of snake bites.
5. Beware of fallen power lines, damaged bridges, buildings and trees
6. Do not enter floodwaters.