In the last 6 months Mexico City has seen 4 detectable earthquakes above magnitude 6; two of these were above magnitude 8. One killed almost a thousand people.
The latest was today, at magnitude 6, this earthquake shook the southern portion of the country at around 12:55AM. We have a seismic alert system that could, if the earthquake is generated far away enough, detect it with almost 2 minutes in advance. But this alarm doesn’t tell you if you can evacuate or if you’re meant to brace, because an earthquake generated in Oaxaca could take up to 2 minutes to get here, but one generated in Puebla, well, that’s another story
But what is one to do if you live in, say, Santa Fe? in a 20th floor? You can hear the alarm rush and all the patrol cars turn on their sirens intermediately but you’re watching Breaking Bad on your bare boxer shorts. You must subvert your human natural instinct to escape the building.
YES. Leaving a building during a seismic event could be fatal; the emergency staircases have little reason to actually hold up the weight of a human being and the seismic motions at the same time, not even mentioning that a misstep during all this shaking and you fall down the stairs.
So what many people did as they woke up in absolute fear and reminiscent of september’s deadly earthquake was:
1. went on twitter to Seismologo Nacional or SkyAlert to check how scared they should be.
Neither publishes the actual strength of the quake intermediate, only do they publish “small” “Moderate” “intense” in all caps.
Once you see that, you think about what to do next. The recommended procedure is to head to the elevator box. What is an elevator box?
Well, generally speaking, elevators are put in the strongest portions of buildings, and if a building has multiple elevators, the box that is made up by those elevators is the strongest portion of the structure. If said building has no elevators, you might as well head to the mos concentric point of the structure right next to a support pillar. You’re then meant to duck and cover basically.
Which is kind of bullshit; a few days after the September 19th earthquake a smaller replication occurred and I remember being in a very tall building and feeling a rush as I headed to the elevators to duck and cover thinking that my mortality was taken away from me and placed into the hands of concrete and rebar. People were crying because they felt this way too, but they couldn’t hide their nature.. at least not as I could. As the alarm stopped and the building began shaking and cracking I tried to tie myself into a ball until it was over. The local police had helicopters looming around the city, the neighboring municipalities sent their cops over to make sure everything was OK. We all headed back to the windows to witness this, and many who were crying just seconds ago, now had their mortality back in their hands and began making fun of the earthquake on twitter.
It’s just... weird, man, and I never want to listen to that stupid alarm, or to the people crying.