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Ministerio de
Desarrollo Social

The Technical Group on Recommendations for Seismic Events and Earthquakes is composed ofrepresentatives from the following
Ministry of Public Works (Ministerio de Obras Pblicas) - MOP
-General Directorate of Public Works (Direccin General de Obras Pblicas DGOP)
-Roadways Directorate (Direccin de Vialidad - DV)
-Hydraulic Works Directorate (Direccin de Obras Hidrulicas - DOH)
-Architecture Directorate (Direccin de Arquitectura - DA)
Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (Ministerio de Vivienda y Urbanismo) - MINVU
Department of Emergency and Disaster Preparedness (Departamento de Emergencias y Desastres) - MINSAL
Superintendent of Electricity and Fuels (Superintendencia de Electricidad y Combustibles) - SEC
Institute for Material Testing and Research (Instituto de Investigaciones y Ensayos de Materiales) - IDIEM
Structural and Geotechnical Engineering (Ingeniera Estructural y Geotcnica) - DICTUC
Association of Civil Structural Engineers (Asociacin de Ingenieros Civiles Estructurales) - AICE
Labor Safety Institute (Instituto de Seguridad Laboral) - ISL
Chilean Safety Association (Asociacin Chilena de Seguridad) - ACHS
CCHC Safety Cooperative (Mutual de Seguridad CCHC) - Mutual CCHC
Institute of Workplace Safety (Instituto de Seguridad del Trabajo) - IST
National Transit Safety Commission (Comisin Nacional de Seguridad del Trnsito) - CONASET
National Academy of Firefighters of Chile (Academia Nacional de Bomberos de Chile) - ANB
Chilean Red Cross (Cruz Roja Chilena) - CRCH

The group is coordinated by the National Emergency Office (Oficina Nacional de Emergencia, ONEMI) of the Ministry of the Interior
and Public Safety (Ministerio del Interior y Seguridad Pblica).
The agencies that participated in drafting this document note that the information provided refers to recommendations of best
practices that contribute to considerably reducing the risks of incidents associated with an earthquake of major intensity but do not
guarantee the absence of injuries or possible fatalities.
How to cite this document:
Inter-Institutional Technical Group, Recommendations for Before, During, and After Seismic Events and Earthquakes.
Santiago: ONEMI, 2013. p. 26. Available online at:
Traduction: Embassy of Canad
Santiago, October 2013

Public Information Office

Document Center





A seismic event is a process by which a large

amount of energy is suddenly released. This is
expressed as waves that travel underground. The
energy is measured using the Richter Scale, which
increases exponentially.
The impact that an earthquake can have on an area
depends on a variety of factors, such as soil type,
the depth of the event, the distance from the area
where the plates rupture, and the materials used to
construct buildings in the area. The measurement of
this impact yields a seismic intensity that is classified using the Mercalli Scale. This scale is based
mainly on observation of the effects of the seismic
waveson infrastructure, people, basic services, and
land (see Appendix 1).
Chiles geographical and geotectonic location makes
it one of the areas with the greatest amount of
energy release on the planet. Due to the ongoing
convergence of the Nazca and South American
plates, located in the so-called subduction zone, our
country has a high concentration of large-scale
seismic events.
Nearly 90 earthquakes were recorded between 1570
and 2010, and 50% of the tsunamis that have taken
place in the world have occurred in Chile, many with
catastrophic consequences for the population.

Statistics also show that, on average, a magnitude 8+

earthquake has occurred every 10 years over the
past five centuries in some part of Chiles territory
(Madariaga, 1991). These include the magnitude 9.5
earthquake (measured on the Richter scale) that
occurred in 1960, which is the biggest event recorded in world history.
Therefore, nowadays it is essential to be prepared
for a large seismic event and to identify actions that
can be implementedin homes, schools or workplaces as well as actions that should be taken during
and after the event. Together, they will help you
prevent significant consequences.
The purpose of this document is to provide recommendations to the general community (families,
companies, and schools) regarding actions to be
taken before, during, and after seismic events and
earthquakes in order to reduce the impact of this
phenomenon on the population. These recommendations are based on expert opinions including
national and international experience. The information provided herein does not replace a specific
Emergency Plan prepared by professionals but can
serve as a guide for the drafting of said plan.


Determine whether the building is earthquake-resistant (home, school or place of business)

Identify seismic protection locations and safety areas
Identify the main cut-off valves for basic services


If the building is constructed of adobe or informal
materials, it is not earthquake-resistant, because it
does not meet current standards. This means that
there is a risk of collapse. Informal construction
refers to structures built by the homeowner and
buildings that are not structurally regulated. If you
dont know what materials your home is made of,
consult with a professional in that area or with your
local government.

If you are in a building that is not earthquakeresistant, identify a safety area outside of the structure. It should be located far from buildings, posts
and cables. It is important to consider that the
greatest risk posed by non-earthquake-resistant
structures is collapse, so there are no safe locations
inside of them.

In an earthquake-resistant building, identify and

mark seismic protection locations. These are
locations that are far away or protected from falling
or overturning furniture or non-structural objects
that are not firmly anchored to the floor, walls or
ceiling. It is important to consider the fact that the
majority of injuries that happen during seismic
events involve people being hit with falling objects or
trying to evacuate buildings.

If there are cracks in the building, they should be

assessed by a specialist to determine whether or
not they affect its earthquake resistance.
Identify elements that could fall down or overturn,
such as shelves, bookcases, false ceilings, air conditioners, etc. If possible, firmly anchor them to the
floor, walls or ceiling.
Identify the main cut-off valves for basic services.
Locate the water valves, main gas cut-off valve and
main breaker or fuse for the electricity and learn
how to shut off the supply in case of emergency.

Verify that gas and electrical installations are in

good condition. Hire technicians accredited by the
Superintendent of Electricity and Fuels (SEC) to
maintain the basic services installations. Use only
certified materials.
Consult the Housing Maintenance Manual
(Manual de Mantencin de la Vivienda) published by
the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development


Make sure that doors, hallways, and circulation
routes are free of obstacles (e.g., heaters, plants, or
furniture). Whenever possible, anchor furniture and
objects to the floor, walls or ceiling in order to keep
them from overturning. Leave interior doors open
and propped in the bedrooms, particularly those
that belong to children, seniors or disabled individuals given that they may require assistance after
the seismic event.
Place large or heavy objects in the lower sections
of furniture or cabinets that close. Place locks on
shelves used for stemware or plates and other
fragile articles, as they can fall more easily and
cause injuries.
Cover windows with curtains and/or install safety
films, particularly in hallways in order to keep glass
from shattering inward.

Make sure that the gas cut-off valve is always

visible and accessible so that it can be shut off in an
emergency. (This is also required by current regulations.) The same applies to electrical panels, which
should be easily accessible in case of an event.

Keep an updated and visible list of emergency

phone numbers such as the ambulances, the fire
department and police department as well as the
companies that provide your home with basic water,
gas and electrical services.


Get prepared and organized as a family. Identify a
meeting point and establish a plan to get in touch
with one another if you are separated during an

Keep an emergency pack with a basic safety kit,

essential phone numbers, and photocopies of
important documents such as deeds, family
documents, ID cards, etc.

Visit the link below to download material for

creating a Family Preparedness Plan and ensure that
you are coordinated in case of emergency.

The elements of a Basic Safety Kit are:

Water (2 liters per person per day)
Canned food
Energy bars and dried food
Manual can opener
Flashlights and batteries
Portable radio with extra batteries
First aid kit
Medications, glasses
Consider the needs of children, seniors and the
Extra keys to your home and car


Identify the special needs of members of your

family or community so that you can provide appropriate assistance in case of emergency.
Ask people directly about their need for assistance and how you can help them most effectively.
Identify, assign and practice the roles that the
various members of the family or community will
take on in emergency situations.
Prepare a comprehensive system of assistance,
defining and assigning specific tasks in order to
assist those who require it based on their necessities. Practice the system and assign more than one
person to each role when possible.
Identify points of access, safety areas and/or
evacuation routes. These should provide access
according to the specific needs that require disabled
individuals and the circulation routes should not be

Prepare an inclusive emergency kit adapted to the

needs of disabled individuals. The kit should have
emergency elements and items that allow for specific necessities to be covered, including medications
and special food items.
Identify an external support network (neighbors,
police, firefighters, medical clinic, local government)
and communicate specific,vital needs to be met in
case of an emergency.
Seismic protection locations and safety areasmust be accessible to individuals with disabilities,
and must address the specific needs and characteristics identified.


If the school is earthquake-resistant, identify and
mark seismic protection locations. Students should
get underneath their desks if they are made of
strong materials (i.e., materials that can withstand
non-structural elements) and are located away from
windows. If they cannot get under the desks,
students can crouch next to them.

Ask disabled people what type of assistance they

may need and how to effectively assist them.
Familiarize yourself with and practice your comprehensive school safety plan. It is important to conduct
drills regularly in order to prepare the school community and implement a procedure based on the structural quality of the school.

In a school that is not earthquake-resistant, identify an outdoor safety area, as the building may collapse. The safety area should be located away from
buildings, posts, cables or other elements that could
Identify the special needs of your school so you
can provide adequate assistance in case of emergency.


If you are in a place such as a mall, theater, cinema, stadium, etc., identify safe locations and evacuation
routes and agree on a meeting point in case of emergency.
Make a habit of identifying safe locations when
you go somewhere new such as a restaurant, party,
gym or hotel.

If you are in another country, find out whether it

is affected by earthquakes and/or tsunamis. Find
out if the building where you are staying is earthquake-resistant and make a plan based on local

Stay calm.
Move to a seismic protection location if you are in an earthquake-resistant structure.
Move to an outdoor safety area if you are in a non-earthquake-resistant structure.
Protect yourself from falling objects or elements.


Stay calm. People panic when they are not sure
what to do. Follow the plan that you prepared with
your family, at work or at school.

If you are in an adobe or informal structure, as

soon as you feel the earthquake evacuate to a
safety area outside, due to the risk of building
collapsing. During the evacuation, evaluate your

If you are in an earthquake-resistant building, go to

a seismic protection location. Stay away from glass,
windows and any element that could fall. Protect
yourself and get underneath a solid element (wooden table or chair). If this is not possible, place
yourself next to such an element and alongside a
structural wall.
Do not use elevators or stairs. Stay inside the
building if it is earthquake-resistant. Do not evacuate. If you evacuate, do not use the staircase or a
vertical safety area because the latter is appropriate
only for evacuation in case of a fire.

Do not stand in a doorway. This is not a safe place

because it acts as a dissipater of the force of the
earthquake. It works as a relief device and may
suffer structural damage or collapse.
If you are in a wheelchair, try to get to a seismic
protection location. If this is not possible, engage
the brakes and protect your head and neck with
your arms.


When the earthquake begins, open the front door

and bedroom doors if possible as these can become
jammed during an earthquake and you could be
trapped inside. By opening the doors you will be able
to exit your home if necessary. Wear shoes to
protect yourself from broken glass and sharp objects
that may be on the floor.
If your home is not an earthquake-resistant structure, you and your family must evacuate to a safety
area outside. Structures classified as non-earthquake-resistant include, but are not limited to, structures built of any type of adobe, unreinforced masonry, structurally unregulated constructions and
self-builds. The resistance of other types of
construction, including older buildings or those
designed before 2009, should be verified through
your local municipality.
If your home is earthquake-resistant, gather your
family together at a seismic protection location. If
you are unable to reach the protection location, stay
in bed and protect your head with your arms.

If you are in bed, get up and go to the seismic

protection location. If you are unable to reach the
protection location, stay in bed and protect your
head with your arms.


If the building is constructed of adobe or an
informal construction, students and staff should
evacuate the building in an orderly manner as soon
as the earthquake is felt and make their way to the
safety area outside, as the greatest risk is that the
building may collapse.


Look around you and find a safe place. If you are
on the sidewalk in an area of high-rise buildings,
move away from the buildings toward the middle of
the street, as objects such asmasonry, ornaments,
glass, light fixtures and other such items may fall.
Also, stay away from electricity posts and wires.
Take care with moving vehicles (drivers may not
have felt the earthquake).

If the building is earthquake-resistant, students

and staff should assemble at the seismic protection
locations until the earthquake is over, as the
greatest risk is from falling objects.
Implement the School Safety Plan and follow the
instructions given by the designated safety staff.


If you are driving in an urban area, reduce your

speed and carefully stop in a safe place as pedestrians may be using the road as a safety location.
Park your vehicle in a safe place away from electricity posts, wires, trees and signs and stay in your
vehicle with the hazard lights switched on.

If you are driving along an urban highway, reduce

your speed but try not to stop and be aware of
other drivers and traffic conditions. Signal and head
towards the nearest exit or, on rural highways, use
the shoulder and stop in a safe place with your
hazard lights switched on. If there are no exits, stay
in your lane. Look for warnings on the variable
message signs along the highway and follow the
instructions as the highway concession companies
will provide information on road conditions. After
the earthquake, continue driving carefully at a low
speed (average 25 mph) to avoid other vehicles or
obstacles on the highway.

If you are driving through a tunnel, reduce your

speed but try to not stop inside the tunnel. Stay in
your vehicle until the earthquake is over. Try to exit
the tunnel and park your vehicle in a safe place.
Reduce your speed gradually and avoid any sudden
braking. If you are unable to control your vehicle and
you need to stop, switch on your hazard lights. Pay
attention to instructions from tunnel security staff.
On exiting the tunnel, drive slowly.

If you are driving across a bridge, reduce your speed but try not to stop. Stay in your vehicle until the earthquake
is over. It is best to leave the bridge and park your vehicle in a safe place. Reduce your speed gradually and avoid
any sudden braking. If necessary, stop on the berm once you have exited the bridge with your hazard lights
switched on. If you need to get out of your vehicle, use only the passenger door on the same side as the shoulder.
Do not walk along the road and do not try to stop another vehicle.


If you are in a shopping mall, stay calm, move to a

safe place and stay away from objects that could fall
on top of you. In a theater, cinema or stadium, remain
seated and protect your head and neck with your
arms. When the earthquake is over, follow the signs
to the safety areas.
Follow the instructions of security staff and
evacuate by following the emergency exit signs once
the earthquake is over.

If you are in a coastal area and had difficulty standing up during the earthquake, evacuate immediately toward the tsunami safety zones located on higher ground.
If you can smell gas or the building you are in is damaged, evacuate immediately to a safety area
Use text messages to communicate with family and friends. Avoid making any unnecessary journeys.


Check yourself, your family and people around you
for physical injuries. If anyone is injured, administer
first aid and only call or visit the emergency
services if necessary.

To find out how to administer basic first aid, visit

the web site of the Cruz Roja Chilena (Chilean Red

Do not use candles, matches or any ignition

sources such as light switches or sockets, or
anything that may cause a fire or explosion in the
event of a gas leak. If you smell gas, open doors and
windows and evacuate immediately to the safety
area outside the building. Inform the gas company
and firefighters.


Use battery-operated or wind-up flashlights if

there is reduced visibility. Be careful when opening
closets and cupboards as items inside may fall onto

If you are in a coastal area and had difficulty

standing up during the earthquake: as soon as the
earthquake is over follow the evacuation route
street signs and evacuate toward the tsunami
safety zones located on higher ground. Using your
vehicle will obstruct the streets, so evacuate on foot
at a steady pace. Return only when told to do so by
the local authorities.

Evacuate to the safety area outside if the building

you are in has been damaged by the earthquake. Be
prepared for further earthquakes and aftershocks
which may cause additional damage to weakened

Shut off the gas and electricity using the main gas
valve and the central fuse box or switch. This will
avoid situations such as current surges, short
circuits, electrocutions, fires or explosions. Then go
to the safety area outside the building.


Check that the building is safe before returning. If

you detect any damage, it is best to stay somewhere else until an expert evaluation has been carried


When evacuating a building, proceed with caution

down the stairways or the vertical safety area,
checking for any damage that may pose a risk to
people. If your emergency exit route is damaged or
blocked, call emergency services and do not use the
Use text messages to communicate with family
and friends as it is more effective and prevents you
from having to travel from one place to another.
Stay informed by listening to a battery-operated
radio, on AM or FM frequency, for instructions from
the authorities and do not switch broadcasters.
Follow your family plan, use your emergency kit,
coordinate with your neighbors, and help those in
If you need to go to a meeting point, be alert and
look out for moving vehicles and weakened structures such as walls, posts, viaducts, bridges etc. and
any falling objects on your route.




Stay calm, call for help and wait for the rescuers to arrive.
Do not improvise evacuation routes as these may pose a greater danger.


Stay calm.
Try not to move, avoid kicking up dust.
Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or an item of clothing.
If you are bleeding apply pressure directly to the wound.
Avoid shouting as you may inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Alert others of your presence, for example, by tapping on a pipe or a wall with a heavy object so that
rescuers can hear you.







Seismic activity is felt

Stay calm

Are you inside a building?

Is it an earthquake-resistant

Are you walking along a

Stay away from buildings and
move carefully toward the middle
of the road or other safe place

Are you driving?

Reduce your speed, stop in a

safe place and stay inside your
vehicle with your hazard lights
switched on
Evacuate to the safety area
outside the building

Stay inside the building and

shelter in a seismic protection
location until the earthquake is



Seismic protection location: In an earthquake-resistant building, this is a place that is protected from
any falling or flying objects or furniture items (light
fixtures, false ceilings, air conditioning ducts, etc.). If
you are in a place with these characteristics (office,
workplace etc.), you can avoid injuries during an
earthquake. Seismic protection locations must be
clearly indicated and occupants of the building must
be made aware of these locations during the preparation stage before an earthquake.
Safety area: This is always located outside the
building, away from the area of impact of falling
walls, posts, trees or other elements. Adobe
buildings should always be evacuated to this outside
area. Safety areas must be clearly marked.
Earthquake-resistant building: A building designed
and built in accordance with earthquake-resistant
building regulations.
Non-earthquake-resistant building: Structures classified as non-earthquake-resistant include, but are not
limited to, buildings made of any type of adobe,
unreinforced masonry, structurally unregulated
constructions and self-builds. The resistance of
other types of buildings, including older buildings or
anything designed before 2009, should be verified
through your local municipality.

Seismic activity: Process whereby energy is released

in waves that travel through the earths crust to the
surface and are felt by people to varying degrees of
Earthquake: In Chile, high-intensity seismic activity
in a particular location that causes damage to infrastructure and/or loss of human life is referred to as an
Aftershock: A sequence of seismic events that
happen after a major earthquake, releasing residual
energy from the main earthquake. The extent of the
aftershocks is an indication of the magnitude of the
main earthquake.
Meeting Point: This is located outside a building in a
safe area and should be both obvious and memorable for members of the public. It serves as a meeting
point for family members who are in separate places
(school-work-home) during the earthquake and/or
tsunami. Examples of meeting points are town
squares, parks, open areas, sports fields, etc.


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caso de Sismos y Terremotos. Santiago, 2012. 7 p.


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Santiago: Ministerio de Transportes y Telecomunicaciones, 2013. 8 p.
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2010. Rev. md. Chile [online]. 2012, vol.140, n.6, pp. 732-739 . Disponible en: <> . ISSN 0034-9887. Consultado el: 20 de
Febrero 2013 .
Lopez, Rocky. American Red Cross response to Triangle of Life by Doug Copp.2004. Disponible en:
<>. Consultado el: 25 de Marzo 2013.
NDEC (National Disaster Education Coalition). Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages, Eartquakes.
Estados Unidos: NDEC, Julio 2004. Disponible en: <>. Consultado el:
22 Febrero 2013.
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Bogot, Colombia: Organizacin Panamericana de la Salud, 2000. p. 484. ISBN 92 75 32332 1. Disponible en:
<>. Consultado el: 20 Febrero 2013.
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Review. 2005, vol.27, pp. 47-55. Disponible en: <>. Consultado el: 15 de Abril 2013.
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Mayo 2013.




Low Intensity
Felt only by a few people under especially
favorable conditions.

Felt only by a few people at rest, especially
on the upper floors of buildings.

Felt by people indoors. Not clearly recognizable as an earthquake as the vibrations
are similar to a passing light vehicle.

Hanging objects visibly swing. Felt by
everyone inside buildings and houses. The
sensation is similar to a passing heavy
vehicle. Only felt by some people outside.

Medium Intensity

High Intensity

Felt by almost everyone, even outside. At
night many people are awakened. Liquids
move inside their containers and may even
spill. Unstable objects moved or overturned.

Difficult to stand. Felt by people inside
moving vehicles. Damage to poorly-built
masonry structures. Fallingplaster, brick,
cornices and other architectural features.

Felt by everyone. Walking feels unsafe.
Windows, dishes and fragile objects
broken. Furniture moved and overturned.
Cracks appear in some plasterwork. Trees
and bushes visibly move.

Difficult and dangerous to drive a vehicle.
Considerable damage and partial
collapses of well-built masonry structures.
Falling chimneys, monuments, columns,
towers and elevated tanks. Wooden
houses shifted fully off their bases.

General panic. Standard well-built
masonry structures are damaged and may
collapse totally.Wooden structures shifted
off their foundations. Underground pipes

Almost all types of masonry structures
destroyed. Some well-built wooden
structures, including
bridges, are
destroyed. Major damage to reservoirs,
dams and harbor walls. Rail tracks are
slightly bent

Very few masonry structures remain
standing. Rail tracks are heavily bent. Pipes
are entirely out of service.

Almost total destruction. Large rock
masses are moved. Objects thrown into
the air. Lines of sight are distorted.



Ministerio de
Desarrollo Social