An earthquake is the shaking and vibration of the Earth caused by underground movement along a fault plane or by volcanic activity. Earthquakes happen without warning.
They range in strength from slight tremors to major shaking, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes, and may be followed by a series of aftershocks. An aftershock is a smaller earthquake that occurs after a previous, large earthquake, in the same area of the main shock.
A seismograph using the Richter scale measures the energy released known as the Richter magnitude (ML) of an earthquake. The highest ML recorded on this scale is 9.5.
Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths result from falling debris when shocks damage or demolish buildings and other structures. Earthquakes can also cause:
Australia averages about 80 earthquakes per year with an ML of greater than 3.0. Australia also averages an ML 5.5 every two years, and an ML 6.0 every five years.
Australia's most damaging earthquake occurred at Newcastle NSW in 1989, when an ML 5.6 earthquake resulted in 13 deaths, 150 injuries and $3 billion in damage.
In the event of a severe earthquake, SA Police will be the control agency responsible for managing the emergency response. Such an event is likely to involve a whole-of-government response and recovery effort.
Planning and knowing what to do during an earthquake will help you avoid making decisions that could prove fatal. As part of your preparation you should:
There are simple things you can do around your home and business property to reduce the risk of injury or damage to property damage during an earthquake.
Do a walk-through of your home or business to locate safe places to DROP, COVER, HOLD:
Move furniture and items such as bookshelves and pictures and mirrors away from beds, sofas or anywhere you sit or sleep.
Fix potential hazards in your home or business:
Get qualified advice to make sure your home complies with the Building Code of Australia and fix any potential weaknesses.
Make sure your insurance, covers you for earthquakes.
Quake safe your home - NZ Earthquake Commission
In an earthquake it's important that you quickly DROP, COVER and HOLD.
DROP to the ground close to you—no more than a few steps or less than two metres away—where your can avoid injury from flying debris.
Take COVER under something strong, like a sturdy table.
HOLD onto it until the shaking stops.
DROP, COVER AND HOLD.
If indoors, stay there. Wait until the shaking stops and you're sure it's safe to exit.
If you're in a crowded area, don't rush for the doors, move clear of overhead fittings and shelves and DROP, COVER and HOLD.
If you're in a lift, DROP, COVER and HOLD. When the shaking stops and it's safe to do so, try to get out at the nearest floor.
Move no more than a few steps, away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and powerlines. Then DROP, COVER and HOLD.
Stay outside until the shaking stops and you're sure it's safe to move about.
If you're in a city street, DROP, COVER and HOLD sheltering from falling debris under strong archways or doorways. Don't go under awnings or parapets as they might collapse.
If you're in a vehicle, pull over to an open area, stop and stay there (with your seatbelt on) until the shaking stops. Check your local ABC radio station for warnings before moving. Be aware of damaged roads, fallen powerlines and damaged overpasses and bridges.
If you're at the beach, DROP, COVER and HOLD. Move immediately to higher ground when the shaking stops.
Don't move about or kick up dust, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Shout only as a last resort so you don't inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Expect aftershocks. Each time DROP, COVER and HOLD.
Check for injuries:
First aid fact sheets - St John Ambulance
Check for damage:
When it's safe:
In the days following an earthquake: