There are very few things scarier than finding yourself stuck in a collapsing building. Whether the structure is large or small it may seem like all hope is lost and doom is the only fate that awaits you. It is possible to survive, however, and that begins with having the right supplies. It also starts trying your best to remain calm and level-headed (easier said than done yes) and not make any irrational decisions such as jumping out high level window.
What You’ll Need
As we mentioned being prepared is the first step to survival in this otherwise all but hopeless situation. As such we will suggest that you possess the following for your emergency kit and as much as possible to keep these items in a sealed, airtight container to protect and preserve their integrity. So take out your checklist and insure you have the following:
• Emergency food and water supplies that will last at least three days. Also remember to include at least 1 gallon of water per person per day.
• LED flashlight to see in the dark or cell phone with an effective flashlight app (preferably the former)
• Extra batteries for the above
• Communications devices such as a radio or cell phone, preferably both.
• Emergency First aid kits
• A whistle to make your presence known
• Utility knife and pocket knife, ideally a Swiss army knife
• Alternate sources of light such as candles and emergency light sticks
• Dishes for eating and cooking
• Can openers for stored canned goods, OR canned goods with tabs that allow for an easy open
• Health and Hygiene items to keep clean
• Miniature Kerosene/gas stove for camping and outdoor cooking
• Extra clothing
• Any medical supplies such as medications both prescribed and over-the-counter that you may need
• Tarps and Duct tape
• Emergency fire starting devices like waterproof matches and portable barbecue lighters (may be kept in a metal cardholder
• Any supplies needed for your family pets such as food, water, and any medications or supplements for a few days
Always Take the Stairs
Just like in a fire you NEVER want to take an elevator. It may seem like a safe shelter and a faster way to reach the bottom, but there is generally a strong risk of an elevator shaft collapsing or cords breaking sending you plummeting, or simply becoming trapped and helpless beneath the debris of a collapsed building. While it may be true that in some cases it has allowed victims to remain safe in an elevator car until rescue teams arrived, there have also been documented cases of elevators doing more harm than good for survival, such as the collapsing elevators and the victims who became trapped in them during the attack of 9/11
Survival in the Calamity
1-The first step, as we mentioned is to stay calm and collected. You’ll need to keep a cool head in order to assess the situation around you. Remember your energy and supplies are limited so make sure to conserve them.
2-The classic duck and cover technique is suggested, but with some stipulations. As a building collapses in some case this method has gotten people killed due to the furniture being crushed, and thus crushing the victim beneath it. The key is to find a sturdy piece of furniture that won’t be impacted under the falling debris. You may still sustain some injuries in the process, but you’re chances of survival will be greater.
3-Remember that falling debris are only one source of concern. You will also want be careful what you are breathing especially in the case of a fire. You will also want to watch for electric systems, bursting water pipes that may cause flooding, and any hazards that may cause the release of dangerous chemicals such as asbestos. A face-mask may also be beneficial.
If There’s a Fire
In many cases a building collapse or other disaster can also make things worse by causing fires to break out. Here a few tips to survive in case of a fire
1. As stated before during a fire or building collapse never take the stairs
2. Stay low and at all costs avoid inhaling the deadly substances (like carbon-monoxide) at all costs. In many cases the smoke is actually quicker to kill someone than the fire itself.
3. Always test doors before opening. It is recommended that you use the back of your hand to feel the door itself to see if it’s giving off heat. Run your hand across the bottom and top as the fire could be at either level. If there is a fire on the other side opening the door may cause to spread more quickly, not to mention you may get a nasty burn by touching the metal doorknob.
4. Always check for smoke and flame before going down a stairwell. Many stairwells are fireproofed and offer a greater chance of survival, and are more easily accessed by rescue teams who may have a hard time finding you in one of the rooms. A smoke-filled stairwell, however, could kill you more quickly so always proceed with caution.
If You’re Stuck Under Debris
1. You may signal rescuers using a source of light such as a flashlight or cell phone.
2. You may also call for help if you happen to have a radio or cell phone, but avoid making any loud noises (such as blowing a whistle) as the vibration may cause the building to collapse even more.
3. You may tap on a pipe or make another similar sound if absolute necessary, but not too loud. Rescue dogs with a sharp sense of hearing will be able to find you if their human counterparts cannot.
4. Don’t make an unnecessary movements, and if you do slow and steady is key, nothing fast or sudden.
5. As always be careful what you breathe
If you are trapped in a building and unable to find a way out (or perhaps dig your way out) don’t panic. Your emergency supplies can keep you alive until rescue workers are able to find you.