Wednesday, 26 March 2014

REGIONAL THREAT – Major earthquake could set region back ten years

Director of the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre says that a major earthquake or other seismic activity could set the region’s development back by ten years.

She is calling on countries not to take its threat lightly, but to ensure that they “get it right the first time” when implementing precautionary measures, such as sound building codes which guarantee minimal if not no infrastructural damage.

Dr. Joan Lachman, Research Siesmologist and Director of
the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre.
Some of those in attendance at the lecture.
Dr. Joan Lachman, presenting on “Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Barbados” during a lunch-time lecture at the Grand Salle of the Central Bank of Barbados recently, noted that the region had been making significant investments into its development and that its people had become accustomed to a certain standard of living.

“The investments we are making into our development are major and we are not rich countries, we are poor, small island countries,” she said, citing landslides, infrastructural damage, liquefaction, fires and tsunamis as some of the major events and occurrences which resulted from earthquakes. She said it would be catastrophic for our people to have to recover from any extreme event.

Lachman, during her presentation, provided practical guidelines for persons to follow, before, during, and after the event of an earthquake.

Before an earthquake, she said that persons ought to make sure that heavy furniture, water tanks, water heaters, gas cylinders and storage units were secured to a wall or floor, and that the largest and heaviest items were placed on the lower shelves which would help to stabilise the structure.

She also noted that safety spots should be identified within homes, schools, places of work and she encouraged that drills be conducted so that what was needed to be done, became entrenched in the minds of people.

For those who suffered with serious illnesses, the Research Seismologist advised that they should have within their homes at all times, at least two months’ supply of their medication.

During an earthquake, Dr. Lachman’s advice was to “remain calm; do not panic; be alert”.

She warned against running outside of buildings, using elevators or stairs during shaking. Instead persons were to practise the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” procedure. After the shaking, persons in multi-storey buildings were advised to exercise caution when using the stairs as the quake may have damaged the integrity of that structure.

She said that if one was already outside, one should stay away from glass buildings and electricity poles. If driving, one should not dead stop in the road, but pull over to the side and stay in the car until the shaking ceases.

After the earthquake, Dr. Lachman told persons to check for broken gas lines and fires, and to listen for instructions from authorities. (RS)

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