Living here in the shadow of the southern portion of the Ring of Fire near Sumatra and Java, our tectonic plate runs along the Alpide belt and subjects us to almost constant earthquakes of varying degrees – including the monster that destroyed Krakatoa in 1883. As such, we are constantly bombarded with earthquake tips and drills that supposedly will keep us safe in case of the ‘big one’….

Oh wait. I don’t live there. I live in Virginia. In my 40 years of living here we have had exactly one earthquake that was actually felt. That one was in 2011 and caused the ‘panic of 2011’ (appropriately named, eh?) that was well represented by the following graphic:

As you can see, the damage was minimal to say the least. Of course it COULD happen, so our trusty public affairs office at a local company has had the good sense to roll out their “Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions” PDF to their employees and yes, had them test this procedure one fine morning. Seriously.

So what is the catchy phrase that they have created to remind us what to do?

Do we STOP, DROP and ROLL? NO….that’s if you’re on fire.

Do we evacuate? No….hurricane.

Do we seek a small interior room on the lowest floor possible? No….tornado.

For an earthquake apparently, according to the Earthquake Country Alliance (again, seriously) we have:

DROP! COVER! HOLD ON! Yes, again, seriously.

Let’s examine each of these one by one so that sitting here in the Indonesian islands I know exactly what I need to do.

So I’m to drop to my hands and knees “because that position protects you from being knocked down”. Well, of course it does, because you knocked YOURSELF down. According to the ECA this getting down on your hands and knees apparently allows you to stay low. I can just imagine the meeting discussion that ensued when THAT brilliant result of dropping to your knees came up. Meeting of the minds, that one. I especially like the black arrow that directs you in the proper direction of the floor in the graphic above. Gravity apparently is not enough of a sure thing to ensure that when you drop you will go actually head downwards.

I have literally dropped to the floor, covered my head and neck with one arm and hand (although to be fair they haven’t stated if said hand needed to be ATTACHED to said arm) and tried to crawl. It’s impossible. You wind up hopping around like a pregnant kangaroo. And what if you DO manage to make it to a nearby table, and discover that it is, in fact, WOBBLY! Do you keep going? Do you stop? What level of wobbliness is necessary for protection when a building crashes down on your head?

Don’t even get me started on staying on my knees to bend over to protect my vital organs…..

Hold on until the shaking stops. That’s kind of a metaphor for life, isn’t it?

In a further paragraph they say to NOT move to another location or outside because you are more likely to be injured if you try to move around during strong shaking. So what is it ECA? Do I hop around like a sick seal looking for a strong table while protecting my vital organs? Or do I stay still? You better clarify this soon because we are approximately 34 years from the next earthquake to hit here.

In conclusion, the ECA states that “You will never know if the initial jolt will turn out to be start of the big one” (yes, they left out THE, not me you grammar police) “…and that’s why you should always Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately!” I can just see now whenever a large truck goes by the office everyone doing these procedures as they think this is the big one. I LIVE for the day when that video gets posted to the internet.

Just be safe guys. I’ll be working on a new ‘recommended actions’ for my blog that I will post soon. There will be LOTS of slamming your hand to your head. LOTS.

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