Preparing for the Israeli Earthquake

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL, JUNE 02:  School children an...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

In the wake of the Haiti earthquake the Israeli press has been writing about the possibility of a major earthquake along Israel’s faultlines. But experts don’t consider it a possibility. It’s a certainty, the only question is when.

During a discussion at the Internal Affairs Committee following the recent disaster in the Caribbean country, Shapira stated, “Granted one can’t predict them or their date, but we must accept that what will kill people is not an earthquake. What kills them is the building.”

In 1980, the Knesset passed laws requiring new buildings to be built according to standards that prevent the building’s collapse during an earthquake. But only a few dozen old buildings been reinforced, despite a plan meant to encourage this. I heard one expert say that he hopes the earthquake will occur between 7 and 8 am, when most people are on their way to school or work. If it happens during school hours, a generation of children could be lost.

As individuals we can’t do much about that except lobby for change.  All of us, though, can secure furniture, lock cabinets with heavy items, and have an emergency plan in place.

Recommendations for behavior during earthquakes have been updated during recent years. If the ground begins to shake, don’t try to move too far. If you are in bed, cover your head with your pillow. During the day move away from exterior walls and climb under the nearest desk or table, unless you are a few steps from a safe room or a stairwell.

Instructions in English from the Home Front Command.

An earthquake preparation game to play with your kids.

A Haitian man survives for 12 days under the rubble.

Related post:
Fleas Are Worse than Bombs


  1. FYI-On Feb. 18th there will be a practice drill for earthquakes in schools all over Israel.

  2. What is the source for you advice? Stay in bed? Last to mild earthquakes here in Jerusalem, I ran down the stairs. Neighbors who felt, did the same.

  3. The source was a site no longer available. I’ll look for another one. But the Home Front site makes clear that walking more than a few steps is not advised. When you wake, you don’t know how long the earth has been shaking. And if you start to walk, especially in the dark, you could step on broken glass or be hurt by falling objects.

  4. i grew up in california, the daughter of two civil engineers. when i was a kid we used to walk into my moms buildings and play the game of finding all the items that were against code- especially earthquake safety. i guess its still in the back of my head, because i still go crazy at the horrible conditions of many of the buildings, especially here in KG.

    as a kid we were always taught- get in the doorway or under something strong if you are inside, get as far away from anything if you are outside. of course by the time you feel the shock there is hardly any time to get anywhere.

    i honestly pray there is no major (or even minor) quake here… i think the death toll would be horribly high.

  5. Regular Anonymous says

    It’s good to have something to look forward to but this isn’t quite what I had in mind.


  1. […] in Israel quotes a news report: “…what will kill people is not an earthquake. What kills them is the building” […]