1. #1
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    Jul 2003

    Default Building Collapse and Earthquake Safety

    They have had it wong for a long time it seems.


    Edited by Larry Linn for MAA Safety Committee brief on 4/13/04.

    My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the
    American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced
    rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an

    I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from
    60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member
    of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in
    Disaster Mitigation for two years...

    There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my
    method of the "triangle of life." The first building I ever crawled inside
    of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was
    under their desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones.
    They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles.
    It was obscene,
    unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I
    didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something.

    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. This space is what I call the "triangle of life". The
    larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the
    object compacts, the larger the void, 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.


    1) Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE are
    crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are

    2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position.
    You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct.
    You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa,
    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 the earthquake.
    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 less 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. Hotels can achieve a
    much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the
    back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor,
    next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

    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.
    How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or
    backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls
    sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be

    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. The people
    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. T he 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 is not damaged.

    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; which is exactly what happened
    with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the
    San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles.
    They were all 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 been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next
    to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except
    for the cars
    that had columns fall directly across them.

    10) I discovered, while 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.

    Spread the word and save someone's life...
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2000


    You would appear not to have done your homework it seems!
    Please no e-mail. Public replies only. Thank you!

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