ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
Istanbul residents can prepare themselves for a future earthquake by experiencing a simulated quake in a new �earthquake truck� that opened Saturday.
Participants in the project, organized by Boğaziçi University Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, the Istanbul Governorship and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, experience a below-average earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale inside a truck that is designed like a small home in which all furniture is fixed on the walls. The hope is that by doing so they will be able to learn what to do in their own houses and will be prepared for an earthquake psychologically and physically.
�It is not scary,� said Deniz Kosovalı, 8, while he was experiencing the simulation of an earthquake inside the truck with his parents and an expert from the earthquake institute. His mother, Dilek Kosovalı, told the Turkish Daily News that both her husband and she pulled themselves from the wreckage of their home following an earthquake, which is why they are eager teach their son what to do in case of another similar event.
�This simulation is not a major earthquake because our goal is not to scare people but to remind them that we live in a country in which earthquakes may happen anytime and we should be prepared for this,� said Süheyla Sezan, project manager of Earthquake Sensibility Days, organized by the Kadilli Observatory and Earthquake Institute.
The truck started to host people wanting to experience the simulated earthquakes Saturday in the Taksim district of Istanbul and will remain until Aug. 20. It is aimed primarily at children but adults can also participate. It will travel to several provinces in Anatolia throughout the year.
Those who had not experienced a major earthquake were as unimpressed with the simulation of earthquake as those who had experienced a quake. �It was not very scary,� said Fatih Bal, a university student. �That experience will not impress people; we take lessons from a disaster only after we really experience it,� said Bal. However, the project's real targets were children, who seemed interested in the experience.
Earthquake precautions governed by superstition
�People have much false information about what to do in case of an earthquake,� said Sezan. �Standing under the doorway is a commonly held false belief, but it works only in some old houses,� said Sezan, and added that thresholds are not as strong in many buildings because they are made of concrete. She instead suggested that family members �find the safest place in their house and agree to wait there until the earthquake stops.�
�The first thing is to sit on the floor near furniture which might be undamaged and protect your head,� said Sezan, and warned that panicking and moving during earthquakes may cause injuries and even death.
Sezan complained that people take precautions like fixing or throwing away furniture that is dangerous as soon as their babies start to walk but they do not bother to guard themselves against earthquakes. �Around 30 percent of the injuries in the 1999 Gölcük earthquake happened because of furniture,� said Sezan, who added that there are simple and cheap ways to fix one's drawers or refrigerator door.