Peru is located on the infamous Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ – an arcing line of frequent volcanic and seismic activity that stretches from New Zealand up across the eastern side of Asia, crosses along the Aleutian Islands over to North America, then down the Pacific coast of North and South America. Because of this, Peru is subject to frequent earthquakes – in Spanish, they’re known as ‘terremotos’. The vast majority of earthquakes here are small ‘temblores’ that feel like a passing truck and rarely last more than a few seconds. But as we saw in 2007, the big ones can happen here too. If you’re visiting or living in Peru, here are some tips on being prepared should the earth start moving under your feet.
Before the Earthquake:
- Before buying or renting a home, be sure that the house or apartment has been built according to code and that all municipal anti-seismic regulations have been followed.
- Don’t store heavy objects on high shelves, over doors, stairs or windows where they could fall and hurt someone.
- Mirrors, large artwork and similar items should not be hung over chairs, sofas, beds or other locations where they may fall and injure someone below.
- You should always have the following on hand: battery powered radio, flashlight, canned/non-perishable foods, extra batteries, drinkable water, a first aid kit and a month’s worth of any necessary prescription medications. Be sure that everyone in the house knows where these items are kept.
- Make sure all family members are aware of the safest areas of the home, such as hallways, stairways, or under solid furniture.
- Teach all family members how to cut off the gas, water, and electricity.
- Have an escape plan in place for you family, and choose a place outside of the home where everyone can meet in case you’re separated
During an Earthquake:
- Most importantly – STAY CALM. Don’t show panic to other members of your family. People who panic make bad decisions, having practiced ahead of time will help you stay level headed and make the safest decisions for you and your family.
- If you’re inside: Get under a piece of solid furniture or other secure spot away from windows and exterior doors.
- If you’re outside: Maintain your distance from buildings to avoid being hit by falling bricks, concrete or glass. Make sure that you are not under electrical lines.
- If it’s dark, do not use candles or any other kind of flame for light – gas lines may be ruptured and it could cause explosions.
- If you’re in your car: stop immediately and stay in the car. If possible, park somewhere away from buildings which may fall.
- At your job: get under a solid table or desk. Stay away from windows. Evacuate if necessary, but use the stairs rather than the elevator – if the power goes out, you may be trapped.
After the Earthquake:
- Look around for any injured people, and apply first aid as needed.
- Check for gas and water leaks, cut off the main valves if necessary. If a gas leak is detected, open windows and doors, and evacuate immediately. Advise authorities as soon as possible.
- Meet your family at your pre-determined location.
- Listen to the radio for emergency warnings. Don’t use the telephone unless necessary – leave lines open for high priority communication.
- Stay away from beaches and other low lying areas on the coast, in case of tsunami.
- Avoid using the bathroom until you know sewer lines are not broken.
- Wear shoes to protect yourself from broken glass.
- Avoid damaged areas, for your safety and the safety of others. Aftershocks should be expected, and can cause already weakened buildings to collapse
Emergency Contacts: Peruvian National Police – In case of police emergency, dial 105. Fire Brigade –In case of fire emergency, dial 116.
We’d like to hear from you. Have you learned something about earthquakes from personal experience that you would like to share? Tell us about it in our forum topic: Preparing for an earthquake in Peru