The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Drop, Cover and Hold Off on Triangle of Life

"Drop, Cover and Hold" is still the best method for earthquake safety in the United States and especially in our own quake-prone region. This recommendation comes from the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management, in concurrence with the American Red Cross, FEMA, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Unfortunately, e-mails have been circulating on the Internet for years incorrectly touting the "Triangle of Life" technique which allegedly use voids as a way to survive earthquakes. Simply put, the technique is not applicable for earthquake experiences in the United States. "Drop, Cover and Hold is the appropriate response to Earthquakes in the United States. We simply don't build structures the same way here as in other parts of the world." said King County Office of Emergency Management Director Robin Friedman.

The "Triangle of Life" is not appropriate for use in the United States because the research used to illustrate the method was based on earthquake response and recovery in Turkey, a country very different from the United States when it comes to building standards, construction and engineering techniques, and building codes. Earthquakes in the United States do not typically result in total building collapse or "pancake." As a result, when earthquakes strike in the U.S., the safest thing for children and adults to do is "Drop, Cover and Hold" underneath a desk, table, or other sturdy strong surface. Since there is little chance of a building collapse in the U.S., there's no need to use the "void" provided by an object like a couch.

"The Emergency Management community has worked for decades researching earthquake response and recovery throughout the world and gathering best practices," said Bill Steele, University of Washington Seismology Lab Coordinator. "Patented or not, we know what works. In the urgency of disaster, people need to instinctively know what to do. And the right message is to Drop, Cover and Hold." Added Friedman: "It is unfortunate that misinformation can spread so quickly online. I hope that people will instead use their networks to share the proper ‘Drop, Cover and Hold' procedure with the same enthusiasm to get information to the people they care most about."

To learn more about earthquake safety and mitigation, please visit For further information on flaws in the "Triangle of Life" theory, read this letter from the American Red Cross and an article from the Daily News.

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