With earthquakes starting to increase around the world, the usual warnings and methods of preparedness are fairly ubiquitous now. Anyone who doesn’t have an emergency kit in their homes is either living in a fantasy world, or perhaps just too busy with a career that usurps their time away from reality. Nevertheless, no matter how much we prepare at home for an earthquake, we don’t always stop and think that we may likely be somewhere else when a massive quake hits. If you’re not lucky enough to work from home, the chances are you may be stuck inside a corporate building when the Big One strikes.
If the above building wasn’t engineered to withstand earthquakes, there’s a chance the building could collapse. And lest you think it might kill you instantly, it doesn’t always work that way. As nightmarish as it is, we constantly hear about people surviving for days while buried in rubble after an earthquake. The skills it takes for you to survive such an ordeal are mostly mental. However, some steps are practical enough where you could possibly be one of those miracle stories of being discovered a week or more after being there.
Oxygen and Some Form of Water
BBC.com did a report on people who’ve survived the longest while buried in rubble after earthquakes. In almost all cases, they had some kind of access to oxygen or water, even if those resources were extremely limited. Sometimes water from leaking radiators in the building you were in can be used as a water source. Other times, it can be from rainwater if it happens to start raining after the building collapses. Frequently, drops of water will trickle down into the rubble where you are for consumption.
And having a little bit of exposure to outside air will help keep you breathing fresh air since dangerous carbon dioxide will increase in enclosed spaces. Having some open spaces can also allow you to yell out for help once search parties start rescuing people.
The Dangers of Falling Asleep
When you’re trapped in rubble and no one’s around to help get you out for a while, you may have no choice except to fall asleep. While this can preserve your energy, you might miss an opportunity to shout out for help when search parties are in the area. That’s why you should be alert to any sounds from the outside world as much as you can.
This could be challenging if you’re very weak and can’t yell loudly. However, the more awake you stay, the more they may be able to hear you or any tapping once they get closer to your location. Most search parties sifting through building rubble use sound amplifiers to hear sounds not detectable by the human ear.
Sheer Mental Determination
Depending on your point of view and will to survive, your mental fortitude can help you more than anything. Considering some people listed on BBC.com above lasted in rubble for up to several weeks, it shows what the body and mind are capable of doing. The key, of course, is that you don’t have any severe injuries to avoid loss of blood or essential fluids. That above state of mind, though, might be a state of Zen for the worst disasters. It’s a state of mind that visualizes what will be rather than what’s happening in the present.
If perhaps a new form of relativity in how we perceive time, keeping a frame of mind that you’ll be rescued eventually makes the time go faster and gives you a fresh will to survive.