Be ready for earthquake

(i) The following advice is based upon best available information. However, all emergency situations are fluid and may produce unexpected events. The priority in emergency situations is to protect yourself and your family. These advisory pages are intended only as guidance to help you prepare. In the event of facing immediate danger, protecting yourself and your family is always the first priority. 
(ii) Lists provided for emergency and evacuation kits are not exhaustive and will depend upon the circumstances of the individual(s).
While Mauritius Island is not considered susceptible to earthquakes, there nevertheless always remains a possibility as in other areas of the world. Rodrigues Island is susceptible to a degree of tectonic movement and besides it is always best to be prepared for the unexpected.

Be Prepared

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of an earthquake.

  • To begin preparing, as for any disaster, you should build an emergency/evacuation kit and make a family communication plan including a list of essential numbers.

  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.

  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.

  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.

  • Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.

  • Brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.

  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself. Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.

  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.

  • Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.

  • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves. Lock these if there is a risk that young children may find them.

  • Locate safe spots in each room under a solid table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during drills.

  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.   

During an earthquake

If Indoors

  •  Drop to the ground; take cover by getting under a solid table or other piece of furniture; and hold on until the shaking stops. If there is not a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.

  • Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection. 

  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave. 

  • Use stairs - do not use elevators.

  • Be aware that the electricity may go out.

If Outdoors

  • Stay there.

  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires to open areas.

  • Stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many fatalities from earthquakes occur when people run outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquakerelated casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.  
If in a Moving Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

  • If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance

If Trapped Under Debris 

  • Do not light a match.

  • Do not move about or kick up dust.

  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.

  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

After an earthquake

  • When the shaking stops, look around to make sure it is safe to move. Then exit the building.

  • Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami. Tsunamis are often generated by earthquakes in coastal areas.  

  • Each time you feel an aftershock, drop, cover and hold on. Aftershocks frequently occur for minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake. 

  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake. 

  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and stay out of damaged areas. 

  • Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly and people with access and functional needs. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.

  • Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. 

  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls so that emergency services can respond to those in need.

  • Inspect utilities: 
    •  Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the Police on 999 and/or the Fire & Rescue Service on 115.

    • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.

    • Do not step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, instead call CEB for advice on 130.

    • Check for sewage and water lines damage.

  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.

  • Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.