Volume 14, Number 14
January 2, 2007

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Earthquake Preparedness: Be Cautious! Don't Panic!

earth.jpg (11636 bytes)The end of 2007 brought two earthquakes to Ankara, centered near Balâ, 60km to the south of the city. It has been a reminder that we do live in a quake zone. Northern Turkey is affected by the North Anatolian fault line. This was responsible for a serious earthquake in 1999, not far from İstanbul, killing 18,000. Fortunately, these disturbances, especially severe ones, are not as common in Ankara.

Minor quakes happen daily throughout the world with little or no impact. Research has been ongoing to try and determine when and where they will happen. Turkey has a number of institutes and research centers contributing to this effort. An excellent place to learn more is www.deprem.gov.tr/, the General Directorate of Disaster Affairs Earthquake Research Department website.

Although the danger is lower in this region, you should still be prudent. If a quake should occur, here are a few tips. Your location will determine the best action to take. If you're indoors, get down, seek shelter, shield your eyes and secure your body. Stay away from windows or anything that can break or fall over. If driving, stop as soon and as safely as possible. Keep away from bridges, trees and electrical lines, and stay in your car. In mountainous areas, land or rock slides can occur. Get away from slopes. The number one safety measure is to stay calm. Keeping your wits about you is your best defense.

You can also make preparations before a quake hits to minimize risks to yourself and your property. Secure furniture and other belongings to decrease the number of objects that can fall or be thrown around. Create safe areas in your home and know the routes to get there. Develop response plans with friends and family. Do practice drills. Keep an emergency kit with candles, first aid equipment, a radio, food items and more. The internet is a great resource for information. A US based site, www.earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/preparedness.php, has a list of English language links to a host of organizations. A Turkish language Disaster Preparedness Program site from Boğaziçi University's Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute can be found at www.ahep.org/ev/index.htm

The potential for a disaster of some degree is there, as the recent tremors have highlighted. But, it is important to put the situation into perspective. Ankara is at a lower risk location. Being prepared and educated reduces these risks further. Get organized and be ready, and then go on living your life to its fullest!

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