Since 1568, Peru has had at least one major earthquake every six years. While talking about earthquake preparedness, it needs to be mentioned that the Government of Peru consistently educates and informs the population about the risks of such a hazard.
A number of earthquake preparation drills happen every year with the express purpose of highlighting the secure zones and exit routes and for the promotion of personal safety procedures.
We never know when disasters might strike and it is extremely important that travelers in Peru prepare themselves against such a natural calamity. While most travelers are not going to experience anything more than a little tremor there are certain things one needs to know in case of a larger seismic event.
Firstly, sign up for the ‘Earthquake Notification Service’ offered by USGS so as to receive notifications on your phone in case of an earthquake in your vicinity. Keep your emergency contacts handy and try to figure out where to take shelter during the earthquake. It is extremely important that you keep your cell phone charged at all times (chips for phones are readily available if your carrier does not provide temporary abroad assistance).
If you are indoors when an earthquake occurs, the first thing you need to do is drop to the floor. If there is a desk or table around then try to get under it and stay there till the quaking stops. If there are no such surfaces, crouch down in a corner and keep your head and neck covered with your arms so as to minimize physical injury.
Do not try to make your way out of the shelter or else you’ll run the risk of getting hurt by the falling debris. Do not use elevators.
Try to stay away from glass windows or light fixtures which might break and fall on you. If you are in your bed then stay where you are and protect your head with a pillow. If there is a heavy light or fan above, move to one of the safe places mentioned above (corner or under a desk).
Also, keep in mind that most doorways are lightly constructed and are not recommended as cover.
If you are outdoors, then stay away from buildings, trees and electric wires. All you need to do is keep calm and remain where you are. The biggest danger lies near buildings.
In case you are driving and the earth starts to tremble then pull over on the side of the road and wait till the shaking stops. Never stop or park your car under a building or a bridge (or any overhead structure). When or if you proceed to drive again after shaking stops, be mindful that ramps and roads may have been damaged.
Be prepared for experiencing aftershocks which might be quite traumatic and panic-inducing. Keep a close watch on information broadcast and pay heed to the warnings. Call the emergency hotline numbers if needed and contact your embassy for reporting your condition and location.
If you are trapped by debris, do not light a match, do not kick around the debris, cover your mouth with your shirt, and lastly to call for help tap on a pole, pipe or wall, avoid yelling as debris may enter your lungs.
Lastly, try and help others. If you see there is a person trapped under debris then call for help immediately. Try not to move the victims with grave injuries; wait for the ambulance instead.
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