Why should we in Norway be concerned when the country is not seen as an earthquake-prone country, nationally?
Stavanger was shaken on 16 March 1752, with cups dropping off shelves and doors swinging open. Nordland rattled on 31 August 1819, collapsing chimneys and generating an oral history that was passed down several generations. On 23 October 1904, Oslofjord was hit, cracking brick walls and bringing down chimneys and roof tiles in surrounding towns.
Norwegians would do well to learn more about earthquakes in case of experiencing one overseas, irrespective of what might happen at home. Many Norwegians, from embassy staff and aid workers to those seeking world-experience, live in earthquake-prone cities such as Djakarta and Los Angeles.
So how can you make your office and dwelling more earthquake safe in places with reasonable building codes such as New Zealand?
Heavy objects should not be placed on high shelves and appliances should be bolted down, for instance. Ensure that you are trained in first aid, have a family plan for reuniting in an emergency (phones are not likely to work), and keep supplies of water and non-perishable food safe.
Answering the same question in locations where construction regulations or their enforcement is more suspect is much harder, however.
You can start by investigating the reliability of local structures in past earthquakes, and at minimum, trying to select a place to live that balances various risks including earthquakes, floods, and crime.
Globally, earthquakes happen daily. Destructive earthquakes strike a few times a year. The chances of ever being caught in a destructive earthquake are small.
Nevertheless, can you afford not to take simple, easy, cheap methods that might just save your life?
Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).
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