When I feel the rumblings, is standing in a doorway really the safest thing to do?—SEAN H., SAN FRANCISCO
We see you live in San Francisco, the site of the devastating 7.8-magnitude quake of April 1906 (hence this month’s temblor awareness), so it makes sense you’re concerned.
But no—if tremors start, don’t head for a door frame, says California state geologist John Parrish, Ph.D. Doorways aren’t that strong in today’s homes, he explains. Plus, “you’re actually more likely to be hurt by the door swinging wildly.”
Instead, get under a table or desk—to avoid falling debris—and hang on to it.
If you’re outside, it’s important to protect yourself from tumbling wreckage, like building facades, windows, collapsing overpasses, electrical wires, and tree branches, says Parrish. “If you’re on a city street, crouch down by a parked car or get to an area away from buildings. If you’re in an open area, like a park, stay in the open—don’t duck under a tree, since it may topple or lose branches.”
And if you’re driving? “On an open road, pull over and stay in the car till the ground-shaking’s over; don’t stop in a tunnel or under an overpass that could collapse. And if you’re on a bridge, stop immediately unless you’re very near its end, in which case get off, then stop by the roadside.”