Sheron Cardin's Input...: A New Science to SURVIVING AN EARTHQUAKE: Print and pass it on!

I have been an interior designer for over 27 years and I have always taught my clients the principles I used while decorating their home so they may enjoy decorating too. The home staging trend in residential real estate is a great way to reach more people every day and what I enjoy the most is they are learning the basics of good design through staging. It is my dream for every person to know the joy and pride of living in a decorated home.

A New Science to SURVIVING AN EARTHQUAKE: Print and pass it on!

earthquake graph

I am a true Californian who was smack in the middle of 2 major earthquakes. The first time I did not know what it was! I thought it rained all night and my house was sliding into the LA River (one house away). By the time I got outside, it was over! The stunned look on all my neighbors faces were a surprise to me since we were all from California yet none of us had ever experience the 'real thing'. None of us knew what to do except to run and get out of the house. We are lucky to be alive according to the information below!


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries.

I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the "triangle of life". The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the "triangles" you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.


1) Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on The back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get near the outer walls of buildings or outside of them if possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Spread the word and save someone's life... The Entire world is experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!

"We are but angels with one wing, it takes two to fly"

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did "duck and cover," and ten mannequins I used in my "triangle of life" survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the "triangle of life." This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA, Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV

Click here to find out how many earthquakes have occured in your part of the world lately...IT IS SHOCKING! Print this out and pass it on to all your clients past, present, and future, family, and friends.


Comment balloon 10 commentsSheron Cardin • May 29 2008 11:10AM


Sheron ~ Wow, good to know.  Although we don't have earthquakes here in New York, this is good information if you are ever traveling to areas that do have earthquakes.  I am surprised by some of what is said here because I remember when I was a kid hearing or reading that you should go under a doorway.  Who would think to keep yourself out from under something.

Posted by Kathy Passarette, L.I. Staging/Decorating (Creative Home Expressions) over 11 years ago

Hello Sheron, I do not miss earth quakes at all.  I grew up in Southern California about 10 miles from the San Andreas fault, so when it decided to shake, man would it shake.  I remember at least 4 major quakes while I was there.  I was shocked at the article where he said not to get under desks.  All of the years I was in school that is where they drilled us to go to.  We even use to have drills on a regular basis and under the desk we all use to go. Great article....

Posted by Gary Barnett, Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis (Home Matters) over 11 years ago

Yes, this is a new way to react and worth paying attention to. That is why I posted it. I don't know how it would feel to lay NEXT to my desk but I understand it. Try to pass this info on if you can.

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) over 11 years ago

Great info to have, Sharon.  Thanks for posting this.

I too have always heard about standing inside a doorway.  He makes complete sense and again, great advice.


Posted by Kathy Nielsen, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager ( over 11 years ago

Wow. As a native Californian who was taught all the RULES and PROCEDURES of Earthquake survival in dozens of earthquake drills at school, this is really freaky info, but it makes perfect sense.

When I moved to Lousiana, I had my first tornado warning within weeks. Everyone was rather non-chalant, and I was throughly confused. I cornered my mom, and I said, "OK MOM, so what's the deal? What do we DO?"

She looked at me funny. I explained with more precision, "YOU KNOW! What do we DO? I know what to do for an earthquake...get under a table or get in a doorway...I know what to do on an airplane...but what is the PROCEDURE for a TORNADO???!!!

My mom looks me in the eyes and said, "OH, I didn't understand your question. Ok, Michelle, listen carefully. You go to the center the livingroom, place your head between your knees...

 and kiss your ass goodbye".

You see, most houses around here are up on  short pilings, or"piers," to avoid floodwaters. No cellars, because we are at or below sea-level. So there is no where to go. No place is safer than any other place. For the last one, two weeks ago, we STOOD ON THE FRONT PORCH!

SO, can you find out what the real procedure is from this expert on surviving tornadoes on the Gulf Coast???

Thanks for posting this...I will not forget these vitally important tips, and I will recirculate it to my kin back home...



Posted by Michelle Molinari, Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts (FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor) over 11 years ago

Michelle - LOL...I am digging your mom...that is so funny yet so not funny. I felt your frustration. These tips for earthquakes is very different from what we were taught. I hope he is right. As for tornados,

I say we all move underground. Our yourthful skin will last longer, social activity will be obvious because we will be above ground, and we will save all kinds of energy because heating and air conditioning will be a thing of the past. (I am getting way too carried away now)

I did stand in a doorway, then ran to a stronger looking doorway just in case. We do strange things in emergencies. I like the triangle will take some practice. Our schools need to re-learn too.


Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) over 11 years ago

Sheron- Now go figure...yes we were taught to stand in the doorways, or get under something....and now they have changed makes sense but such a deep rooted habit will take time to re-learn for sure. Hopefully we don't have any quakes soon.

Posted by Kathy McGraw, Riverside County CA Real Estate (CELLing Realty) over 11 years ago

Sheron - What great information to know. And so much of it is contrary to what we're always told.

There's an excellent supplier of Emergency Preperadeness Kits - Emergency Cafe. I think it's a great idea for everyone in California to have a kit ready.

Posted by COMPASS PALM SPRINGS | Stewart Penn, COMPASS Palm Springs - Broker Associate (COMPASS) over 11 years ago

I am sending this new info to my little girls teacher. Should be interesting. In my first earthquake (Sylmar), I was being tossed around so much, I was lucky to get OFF the bed! Now if an earthquake wakes me up (not too likely in Fresno) I will just roll off and hang on.

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) over 11 years ago

Thanks for this post. Can you tell me where you got the info. Do i need to site the author if i reprint?

Posted by Gloria Commiso, Hermosa Beach (Keller Williams) over 8 years ago