Miscellaneous Dangers

There are numerous dangers that do not come automatically to mind against which an individual and neighborhood needs to be prepared. The best way to forsee such is to be steeped in the TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) literature.

Whether or not you find such literature over-the-top or inappropriate, it's always useful to know what others know and such literature is the prepper community's favorite vehicle to disseminate information. Much of it is written by people who actually know like S.E.R.E. instructors, ex-Army Intelligence officers, etc. some of whom have actually had experience living abroad in places like Iraq and Afghanistan when those societies broken down.

Earthquake safety

You may be surprised to learn that the best thing not to do when the ground begins to shake is hide under something like a table.

During the Mexico City 1985 earthquake, many children were under their desks (as instructed). And every child was crushed to the thickness of his or her bones. Many could have survived by simply lying down next to the desks in the aisles.

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, but not under them. This space is called by some, the "triangle of life." The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void and 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.

Notes and tips for earthquake safety

  1. Most everyone who simply ducks and covers when building collapse is crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed. The best thing to do, if possible, is to exit the building. You can't do this if you are a long way from the exit, have to take stairs or going outside exposes you to even more danger such as the falling debris of a city.

  2. Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety or survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void by doing so. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a bed, 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 theearthquake. 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 fewer 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.

  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 because the doorjamb falls forward or backward and a person risks being crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways one is cut in half by the doorway.

  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. Those 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 appears undamaged.

  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, waht happened with the slabs between the decks of Oakland's I-880 Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside vehicles and nearly every one of them was 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 had the presence of mind to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids some 3 feet high next to them, except for those cars that had columns fall directly across them.

  10. It's beend discovered, by rescue operators 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.

Animals, especially dogs

In an emergency, low-technology situation when people don't have enough to eat, their instinct will be to turn their animals loose to fend for themselves.

For dogs, this is a catastrophe because experience teaches they quickly revert to being like wolves. Having long lived among people, they don't fear them especially. The upshot is that, bereft of their families, they will naturally form new families of other dogs and range as packs killing and eating people.

It is suggested that dog packs can get very numerous in size, with lead animals that evolve naturally based on intelligence, size and ferocity, such that the "dog gangs" get big enough to overwhelm even well armed people.

You could waste a tremendous amount of ammunition trying to defend yourself against dog packs using up precious ammunition more needed for situations that can't be so easily solved up front taking care of the problem before it's a problem.

This is as much a social problem as one of logistics. People keep pets and grow very attached to them. They will be resistant to acting to euthanize their pets until sure reports of humans attacked, maimed or killed begin to circulate. By that time, the situation could make communities very dangerous and the solution cost a great deal requiring planned intervention by many.

Any community needs to have a plan to euthanize animals, particularly dogs, as soon as their owners turn them loose. If the owners refuse to be responsible enough to do it themselves, neighborhoods will need to step in preemptively.