In MEDC’s there is a lot of money, time and effort spent on natural hazard
awareness, with a disproportionate amount spent on earthquake safety. Yet
when two earthquakes hit Japan in March 2011 and the capital city of the USA,
Washington D.C. in August of 2011, it became apparent that while some
younger people did the right thing and protected themselves and those around
them, others did not. In the case of Japan, where the earthquake was severe
and triggered a secondary hazard (a tsunami) the death toll and loss of
livelihood was enormous. In the USA the earthquake was far smaller, but could
have been worse. Your task is to sort out the correct action from the incorrect
and to think about why this is so.
1. Listen to the recording of 911 calls at the time of the San Francisco
earthquake in 1989. Fill out the worksheet to discover the level of chaos
that was caused by the earthquake and what deaths and injuries were
2. Open up your envelopes and sort through the information into what you
think is correct behaviour or incorrect behaviour. Place these into a
table in your books.
3. What secondary hazards were caused by the earthquakes (include
information that you learned from listening to the 911 calls). Write a
paragraph describing what these are.
4. Now think about what you have read. What excuses do many adults use
to put off or ignore warnings about natural hazards? List these in your
5. Talk to your work partner and together, think of why warnings are
You are in charge of emergency planning for a city in an MEDC that experience
earthquakes, create and carry out a campaign to get people involved in
changing their actions to become safer. Use any medium (TV, radio, cinema
adverts etc) to get your message across! You will have a week to carry out this
task and you may work in a pair, but no larger! Good Luck!