The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Earthquake Stuff

Little knee-trembler yesterday (let's see if anyone catches THAT reference!), and everyone's fine. Jason's daycare lady actually used the quake to teach about tectonic plates! I think we have him in the right place. Anyway, I got the following forwarded to me. Seems authentic and reasonable. If you agree, please cut, paste, and send to anyone you know in an earthquake zone. You might save a life.


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in anearthquake.

I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I
have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings
falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the "triangle of life".

The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the "triangles" you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.


1) Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE
are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position.
You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival
instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during
an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake.
If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created.
Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick
buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but
less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply
roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out
the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is
killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward orbackward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of
frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly
mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the
stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible
- It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls
in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happenedwith the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the
crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had
columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices
and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Spread the word and save someone's life... The Entire world is experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!

"We are but angels with one wing, it takes two to fly"

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be
correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul , University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did "duck and cover," and ten mannequins I used in my "triangle of life" survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions , relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using
my method of the "triangle of life." This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV


Nancy Lebovitz said...

In case anyone wants huge amounts more about survival and first aid, I recommend Jim MacDonald's articles at Making Light.

* Anatomy & Physiology (Cranial nerves): Old Olympus’ Towering Tops
* Burns and Carbon Monoxide: Stop, Drop, and Roll
* Cholera: Eat Shit and Die
* Diabetes (IDDM): Sweetness and Light
* Heart Attack (AMI): Affairs of the Heart
* Hyperthermia: Heat Stress
* Hypothermia: Cold Blows the Wind Today
* Incident Command System (ICS): Wheel, Re-invention of
* Influenza: Flu Pre-Pack
* Influenza: How To Wash Your Hands
* Levels of Consciousness (LOC): AVPU
* Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA): Seatbelts Save Lives
* Multiple Casualty Incident (MCI): Triage For Fun and Profit
* Stroke (CVA): A Fast Note on Strokes
* Trauma: Trauma and You, Part One: The Basics
* Trauma: Trauma and You, Part Two: Shock
* Trauma: Trauma and You, Part Three: Sticks and Stones
* Trauma: Trauma and You, Part Four: The Squishy Bits
o Trauma and You: Final Exam Pt. One
o Trauma and You: Final Exam Pt. Two

Emergency Preparedness:

* Cloverfield (with Spoilers)
* First Aid Kit (off-site)
* Go Bags
* Vial of Life

Unknown said...

Here's the Red Cross response to the Doug Copp email, which is that it's not necessarily wrong, but not necessarily right, either, with one good point being that what works in Turkey might not work in the US:

Here's the Snopes article on this email, which again says it may not all be wrong, but be careful about it, and which offers interesting and possibly relevant information about Doug Copp:

So, I'd say more research and thinkin' would need to be done before you wholeheartedly embrace or reject Copp's ideas.

But it's worth noting that the Red Cross states that standing in a doorway has not been advocated for a decade now. Which was news to me!

I'd say that one really great earthquake tip would be to get the hell out of California!


Unknown said...

From the Mercury News (the last paragraph is the best advice):

Mass e-mails are annoying, but this one could be deadly. A message getting wide circulation on the Internet has alarmed rescue experts, who say it offers misleading and dangerous advice about what to do in an earthquake.

It says that when the shaking starts, you should lie down next to something heavy and strong rather than duck under it. That is where a ``triangle of life'' will supposedly form if the building collapses -- a void where you can be safe.

``Everyone who simply `ducks and covers' when buildings collapse is crushed to death -- every time, without exception,'' says the e-mailed advice from self-styled rescue expert Douglas Copp. ``People who get under objects, like desks and cars, are always crushed.''

However, people who study survival in quakes -- and those who dig survivors out -- say this is not true. They say ``duck and cover'' is still the best practice, Copp is not credible, and people who follow his advice are putting themselves at more risk of being injured or killed.

Capt. Larry Collins, a search-and-rescue specialist with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said he has been peppered with calls and e-mails from city and school officials who wonder whether Copp is for real.``It's a serious public safety concern at this point,'' he said. ``I'm really surprised he's been allowed to go this far.''

Not only is Copp's message dangerous, Collins said, but Copp himself is a danger at disaster scenes, where he poses as a rescue worker and tries to talk his way past the barricades.

Copp, 53, says his American Rescue Team International is ``the world's most experienced rescue team.'' He claims to have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings and worked with rescuers from 60 countries. However, a series of articles last summer in the Albuquerque Journal questioned Copp's credentials and experience, including the assertion that he had been injured while rescuing people from the World Trade Center collapse.

Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Copp acted fraudulently in collecting more than $649,000 from the fund set up to compensate victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

``Doug Copp? Stand clear,'' said Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, who leads one of the Bay Area's three urban search-and-rescue teams. ``This guy is causing us so many problems with people who are now questioning what to do. I wouldn't hold his credibility very high.''

Defending his advice
Copp says the accusations against him are lies. Although his Web site lists a San Francisco address, he said he is living in a motor home in eastern Canada and suffering from injuries to his nervous, immune and respiratory systems suffered in the World Trade Center rescue.

``Let me emphasize that I have not told one single lie, not one single exaggeration, not one single false claim, about anything whatsoever,'' Copp said.

One of the central problems with Copp's advice is that it is based on the assumption that buildings will collapse in a strong earthquake. While that is true in many places, such as Turkey and Mexico, it is not true in California, where buildings are much stronger. Here, the biggest danger is that you will be hit by falling furniture or flying debris. It also ignores the fact that even heavy objects, such as refrigerators and cars, can jump around in a powerful quake.

``Some of the things he recommends are absolutely dangerous, like getting out of your car and lying down next to the car,'' said Kimberley Shoaf, assistant director of the Center for Public Health and Disasters at the University of California-Los Angeles. If the ground shakes hard, she said, your car could end up on top of you: ``I'd rather be inside a ton of steel than under it.''

And while it is true that rescuers often find people alive in voids, there is no way to tell where those safe havens will form, she and other experts said. Every earthquake is different; so is every building collapse.

``To tell you something is going to work every time is a fantasy. Nothing is going to work every time,'' said Mark Ghilarducci, former deputy director of the state Office of Emergency Services. He is a vice president of James Lee Witt Associates, which advises governments and companies on how to deal with disasters.

He said the best advice -- something that will protect most people in most situations -- is still the drill practiced by schoolchildren: duck, cover and hold on.

The American Red Cross and the Structural Engineers Association of California also are urging people to ignore the e-mail.

Rocky Lopes, manager of community disaster education with the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., said the ``triangle'' e-mail first surfaced in 2000, then faded away until August, when it surged back with a vengeance. He said it conflicts with advice honed over the years by 22 national organizations, which meet periodically to figure out what to tell people about surviving all types of disasters.

The message has to be simple, Lopes said. ``When people practice something that's simple to do, then during the shaking of an earthquake, when you're very frightened and the adrenaline is rushing, you'll do what you have practiced,'' he said. ``It's normal human nature to get up and run. But during an earthquake, attempting to run can actually pose a more serious threat of injury.''

Shoaf said her research indicates that if you are in bed during an earthquake, it is best to stay there until the shaking stops. The farther you try to move while the ground is shaking, the greater the chance that you will be injured, she said.

Plan ahead

Other studies show that people who take refuge in doorways are often injured when the door slams into them or crushes their fingers. For that reason, emergency officials have stopped advising people to huddle in doorways. But they say the claim in the ``triangle of life'' e-mail that everyone who gets under a doorway is killed when buildings collapse is simply not true.

Michael Durkin, a Los Angeles consultant who has studied survival in quakes, said it is important to start thinking about safety long before an earthquake strikes: Look around at the places where you spend the most time and identify possible hazards. Then figure out how to neutralize or avoid them.

``I'm not advocating that you spend your whole life looking at every setting you happen to be in,'' he said, ``but that you take the ones where you work and live, and address those.''

Unknown said...

One more and then I'll stop, this is pretty scathing, but also has some really good advice: