The dilemma of surviving an earthquake

A couple of weeks ago, two earthquakes struck Rwanda and neighbouring DR Congo, killing at least 39 people including those that were in a church at the time. More than 400 were also injured.

A couple of weeks ago, two earthquakes struck Rwanda and neighbouring DR Congo, killing at least 39 people including those that were in a church at the time. More than 400 were also injured.

Volcanic eruption can cause one of the worst human, animal and property destruction. History in the most affected parts of the world has proven this.

The worst eruption (in historic times) so far occurred in Indonesia (Tambora, Sumbawa) on 5 April 1815 with ca. 92,000 casualties (starvation was the major cause of deaths). Mount Tambora is a caldera volcano.

There are some volcanoes which we should be careful of. Volcanoes are seismic. And as their activities continue, we may see more and more long-dormant volcanoes suddenly come to life.

Among the ten most dangerous volcanoes that are likely to erupt any time is Mount Nyaragongo. Mount Nyiragongo is a volcano on the Decade Volcanoes list located in the Virunga Mountains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nyiragongo and nearby Nyamuragira make up a little less than half of all of Africa ‘s volcano eruptions.

Since 1882, Nyiragongo has erupted at least 34 times. Along with this, it is famous for the lava lake in its crater. However, in 1977 the walls holding in this lake fractured and allowed the lava to flow at rates of 60 miles per hour down on unsuspecting residents.
Nyiragongo again erupted in 2002, forcing more than 400,000 people from the nearby cities of Goma and Gisenyi to evacuate.

This mountain therefore exposes people to the risks of the eruption.

The unfortunate part of it is that the population around the volcanoes do not have any skills or capacity to detect the impending earthquakes or eruptions. They only sit and wait for deaths in their beds. Personally, whenever there is an earth quake, I really do not know what to do.
The concerned authorities should therefore design means to create an awareness of security precautions both against the earth quake and volcanic eruptions.

People have not been sure of what to do before, during and after an earthquake. This is mainly due to the fact that people in the region and Rwanda in particular rarely experience environmental hazards. Since their so many environmental changes due to global warming a number of precautions must be put in place.

Some precautionary measures can greatly increase chances of surviving an earthquake and volcanic eruptions:  Education and advance preparations are of paramount importance. They are however not a guarantee to survival during the hazard.

Most earthquakes are over in seconds so, knowing what to do instinctively is very important. You should therefore, prepare your family well in advance; the actions you should take when an earthquake occurs, for example, the safe places in a room such as under a strong desk, along interior walls, avoiding areas near windows, large mirrors, hanging objects, heavy furniture and fireplaces.

It is also advised that if you are indoors, then you stay. Quickly move to a safe location in the room such as under a strong desk, a strong table, or along an interior wall.

The goal is to protect you from falling objects and be located near the structural strong points of the room. Avoid taking cover near windows, large mirrors, hanging objects, heavy furniture, heavy appliances or fireplaces. If you are outdoors, move to an open area where falling objects are unlikely to strike you.

Recently there was an interesting discussion between a tax driver and passengers. It was about what happens when an earth quake strikes while people are in a moving vehicle. Some said they would not feel it, including the driver whereas others feared it would be the worst experience.

But the best advice is that if you are driving, slow down smoothly and stop on the side of the road. Avoid stopping on or under bridges and overpasses, or under power lines, trees and large signs. Stay in your car until the tremble dies out.

Final what do you do about the aftermath of a hazard if you are still alive?

Apart from the sorrows and screaming, check for injuries; attend to the injured, help ensure the safety of people around you.

Finally, if your building is badly damaged, you should leave it until it has been inspected by a safety professional.

These are merely basic precautions and the concerned are challenged to create awareness among the people especially those living in the most vulnerable areas of the country.

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