Practices and behavior of the population before an earthquake


From “So that the trial won’t become a trouble” book


How to prepare for an earthquake 

The analysis of the Spitak earthquake of 1988 showed that the preparatory stage has a crucial rule in terms of earthquake protection.

Now, we will list the actions necessary for the preparatory stage. You need to get a seismic risk assessment map of the area. The earthquake resistance coefficient of your building and dangerous and toxic objects in the area are indicated on the map.

That map will contribute to your future seismic protection operations. You can contact the Municipality or MES seismic protection service to obtain the map.

The necessary conditions for the safety of buildings

When speaking about this problem, it is appropriate to remember the following Japanese expression: “The earthquakes do not kill people but the ruins of the bad buildings they built.” This was confirmed in 1988 in Armenia when most of the people fell victim to the ruins. When choosing a construction site, have a document guaranteeing the development of the site, according to which it is necessary to build buildings away from geologically active faults because the ground movements that cause destruction are made along those faults.


It is not allowed to build buildings on the water catchment grounds at the foot of the hillsides. As a result of an earthquake, collapses and landslides occur in such places. Check the condition of your apartment, if necessary, do it right away because if the building is not completely secured, no measures taken for the safety of your apartment will help. While constructing buildings, lay a firm foundation as much as possible, and fasten the walls reliably to the foundation.


It is not allowed to make such modifications in buildings that reduce the seismic resistance of the building, for example:

  1. reconstructions of basement floors weakening the foundation,
  2. change in the floor plan of the apartment (cavities opened in the load-bearing walls, which affect the overall strength of the building)
  3.  Installation of a heavy water tank on the roof.

In order to evacuate people from buildings and provide ways to rescue victims, it is necessary to: 

  • Replace iron doors with wooden doors because, during the first shocks, iron doors usually bend and are difficult to open, and sometimes cannot be moved,
  • Remove the metal bars from the windows of the first floor, and if you have used protective measures to ensure safety, attach the bars to the shutters that open directly because the windows are also a backup exit.
  • Release exits and entrances, staircases, and corridors from bulky subjects

To ensure your safety in service and residential buildings:

  • Securely fasten the furniture, machines, and devices to the floor and walls,
  • Remove delicate electronic devices from the upper shelves and place them on the lower cabinets on special gaskets,
  • Remove heavy subjects from the upper shelves and place them on separate pedestals,
  • Securely fasten the containers with flammable and toxic liquids, check container fasteners and the reliability of the stoppers,
  • Fasten the cylinder full of condensed gas and the water heater to the wall with wire pegs,
  • Securely fasten hanging items and lighting devices to the ceiling,
  • Place the beds against the load-bearing wall, away from windows. Do not hang bookshelves or pictures with heavy frames above the bed.

The following steps should be taken for your security: 

  • Plan your actions during a possible earthquake in advance. It will help you avoid panic situations and act correctly at the time of an earthquake;
  • Know the safest places in your house or workplace where you can shelter during an earthquake. It is necessary to familiarize your family members and employees with them.
  • Determine the safest way out of the building and into an open space.

Make an appointment with family members and clarify (if you are in different parts of the settlement during the earthquake) the meeting place. 

  • Master the forms of first aid and teach family members,
  • Keep a bag with necessities at home near the entrance.

The followings should be in the bag:

  • First aid kit (medicines, bandages)
  • Battery-operated radio receiver and flashlight,
  • Necessary documents and warm clothes,
  • Canned food and a container full of drinking water (you need 3-4 liters of water for cooking and drinking).