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Post-Quake Threats: How to Avoid Them

Tips for identifying structural damage and other threats that might come up during the aftermath of an earthquake

A collapsed building on the intersection of Concepción Beistegui and Uxmal streets, in Mexico City's Narvarte neighborhood, photo: Cuartoscuro/Diego Simón Sánchez
By The News Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
3 weeks ago

The earthquake’s gone, but the threat’s not over. Days after the 7.1. magnitude quake that struck Mexico’s central region, buildings continue to collapse and be a source of probable danger in Mexico City and other states. In the country’s capital, 38 buildings have crumbled according to Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa.

To avoid further tragedy, here are some tips for identifying structural damage and other threats that might come up during an earthquake’s aftermath. Some of these tips were issued by Mexico’s Army and Navy Secretariat (Semar), others by Magdaleno Martínez, a geo-technician from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN).

  • If the building is tilted, don’t go inside. Staying away and reporting it would be much wiser.
  • Take a close look at the elements that support the building. Check on columns, walls, rods, beams, stairs, iron cables and the like.
  • Be on the lookout for cracks and visible fractures.
  • Cracks are not particularly dangerous as long as they’re on the surface, but too many could be a sign of weakened foundations.
  • X-shaped cracks are bad news.
  • Fractures indicate diminished building resistance, making collapse a more probable threat.
  • Don’t saturate power outlets by plugging too many appliances.
  • Close gas valves and be on the lookout for leaks.
  • Soapy water can be used to locate gas leaks. If the water starts bubbling, it could mean there’s a leak nearby.
  • Locate and report any gas or water leaks.
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