What Did You Do When the Quake Hit?

By Michelle Wayland
|  Thursday, Jul 8, 2010  |  Updated 12:49 PM PDT
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Earthquake Reaction

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4th graders participate in an earthquake drill.

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Trigger Quake Caused Some Damage

San Diego State professor emeritus and geologist Pat Abbott said that he believed that this was a "new" quake, not an aftershock of the Easter quake that hit just south of the U.S. border in Mexicali and was measured at magnitude 7.2.

Borrego Residents React to Quake

When reporter Chris Chan checked in on Borrego Springs residents after Wednesday's 5.4 quake, he found many rolled with the punches.
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When an earthquake hits, people tend to act very differently. Wednesday’s 5.4 quake was no exception.

If you were on Facebook, Twitter or talking to family or friends, you may have noticed the reaction was varied.

There was panic.

“Grabbed the kids and ran outside!” Samantha Cazales-Hartley said.

Indifference.

“I rode it out on my couch and then continued to play my Xbox 360,” said Jon Hinkle (@HinkDog411)

Dedication.

“I stayed on hold during a business call and contemplated going under my desk with my phone,” said Katie Silva (@KatieBeeSD).

Heroics.

“Got out of bed to hold my boyfriend’s flat screen,” Carissa Marie Cappocchi said. “Someone had to make sure it didn't wiggle off the stand.”

Amusement.

“I was at Balboa Dog Park and watched everyone else’s reaction. It was pretty funny,” said Jay Jenney.

Even loved ones who experienced the quake together experienced it differently.

“Continued to sit on the couch and laugh at my wife who was freaking out,” Wolf Bronski said.

These types of reactions reveal that plenty of people still need to brush up on earthquake safety, according to emergency services personnel.

“(I) watched everyone else run out of the building,” Mike Atkinson said about Wednesday’s quake.

Running outside is almost always the wrong thing to do, San Diego County Office of Emergency Services spokesperson Yvette Urrea Moe told the North County Times.

The majority of people injured in earthquakes are struck by falling or flying objects, such as bookcases, light fixtures or broken windows. And outside, a building's architectural details, facade and roofing elements create real hazards, as do trees, power lines, signs and utility poles, she told the paper.

And forget about standing in a doorway.

A doorframe used to be the strongest part of a structure. Not anymore. In modern buildings, the doorway is no stronger than many other areas, Urrea Moe said.

The so-called "Triangle of Life" claims the safest place to be in an earthquake is next to a piece of prominent furniture. Not under it. But years of studies on earthquake survival contradict the message's advice, Urrea Moe said.

What you should do: Drop, cover and hold on.

“I tweeted during the earthquake. Is that on the not to do list?” Michael Nooris (@Sizemattic) tweeted.

“The safest thing anyone can do is to get under a table or desk and use one hand to protect their head and the other to hold onto the furniture during the shaking,” Urrea Moe said in response. “But once the shaking is over, and as long as you are in a safe location where nothing can topple over on you, then you could use mobile phones or computers.”

You should also be prepared to react to aftershocks.

“And that means being aware of your surroundings. So, in addition to heavy furniture or overhead lighting, you should be aware that windows or mirrors often shatter during shaking as well,” she said.

Let us know what you did during the quake. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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