A Taipei-based medical specialist on Wednesday urged the public to rely on proven earthquake survival techniques and disregard dubious and ineffective methods, such as the so-called Triangle of Life.
People should “drop, cover and hold” during a powerful quake to maximize their chances of survival, National Taiwan University Hospital emergency doctor Shih Fu-yuan (石富元) said.
Dropping to the ground mitigates risks of falling injuries, while taking cover under sturdy furniture, such as tables or beds, helps shield people from debris, Shih said.
Keeping still until the quake passes completely is important because movement increases exposure to unsecured objects that could topple, he said.
People should not try to escape unless they live on the ground floor of a building and there is an open space nearby, he said.
Large glass windows may shatter and should therefore be avoided, while flame sources should be shut off, he added.
Motorists should decelerate gradually and stop by the roadside, stay inside their vehicle and avoid locations near buildings, bridges or poles, he said.
Families should have prearranged meeting points for emergency situations in case telecommunication services fail, he said.
People residing in at-risk areas should secure bookshelves, closets and other large furniture to the wall with steel frames and prepare go-bags that contain a flashlight, water and rations, he said.
A self-proclaimed search and rescue expert called Doug Copp has been popularizing the Triangle of Life on the Internet, Shih said.
The Triangle of Life method recommends seeking cover close to furniture, but not under it, saying that a pocket of protective space could form at such locations during a structural collapse, Shih said.
The chances of survival for people trapped under a fallen roof are very low and no meaningful defense against this scenario exists, whereas sheltering under a table or bed offers tangible head protection, Shih said.
US research has shown that people found in the locations that Copp recommends are more likely to be killed or hurt in a structural collapse, not less, he said.
Preparedness is crucial because an emergency situation slows down the reaction time of most people to between 90 milliseconds and 300 milliseconds, he said.
“The national emergency cellphone alert gives a few seconds of advanced warning, at most,” he said.
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