Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.

If outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

Ignorance is no defense especially when it comes to ignorance of the laws in countries you plan to visit. While it may seem natural to study some of the general customs and laws in major foreign countries you might not expect, for example, to have to look for strange law changes in somewhere like Florida. Most places in the world are relatively easy to get along in. Some strange laws are nothing more than folklore. Every once in a while, though, you’re going to run into something a bit off the wall and it’s important for you to be prepared in advance.


In Italy it is illegal to feed the pigeons. Ok, that’s a bit of a blanket statement. The rule actually has the potential to change from city to city. Make sure you leave the pigeons alone while you’re in Venice, though the locals are tired of cleaning up pigeon poop. You’ll also want to avoid jumping into fountains, walking around without your shirt on (would you DO that as a tourist), and sitting on the sidewalk to eat your lunch. Fines range from a warning to monetary infractions anywhere from $50 to $600.


Before you leave for the United Arab Emirates you’ll want to make sure you aren’t visiting during Ramadan. During that time you are not allowed to eat or drink in public during fasting hours (ie. daylight hours) at all. Think we’re kidding? Tourists have been fined up to $275 for drinking juice in public. Avoid public displays of affection as well unless you want to spend a few months in jail.


Ever have the urge to empty your piggy bank of quarters and run down to the corner store? Don’t do it in Canada. The Currency Act of 1985 prohibits consumers from using unreasonable amounts of coins to pay for purchases. This means you can’t pay for an item in all coins (especially if it’s over $10). Even the use of dollar-coins is limited. The shop owner has the right to choose whether or not he wants to take your coins but doesn’t have to.


In the beautiful city of Moscow it is illegal to drive a dirty car. The definition of dirty, however, is up in the air. Is a dirty car one on which you can draw pictures in the dust? Does it hide the license plate? Does it make the driver invisible? We suppose you’ll find out if the police poll you over but the fines tend to be whatever the police decide to charge you unless, of course, you offer him a bit of cash.


Studies in Denmark have shown that vehicles with their headlights on are more noticeable by other drivers than those who have their headlights off. You’d think this law would apply to night driving but it doesn’t. Drivers here are required to leave their headlights on during the day as well or may face a fine of up to $100.


You’ve heard of the Autobahn, right? The notorious German road where there are no speed limits? Make sure you fill your gas tank BEFORE you get on this daunting road. It’s illegal to pull over on the side of this road for any reason and, if you do, it’s illegal to get out and walk. You are, after all, endangering the lives of the people who are still driving at warp speeds.


In Thailand it is illegal to drive a car or motorcycle without a shirt on regardless of how hot it is that day. Punishments range from verbal warnings to tickets costing about $10. This is no joke the local police will pull you over.


Love died a little bit on April 5th of 1910. Lovers spend so much time kissing each other goodbye at train stations that trains were actually running late. The law is relatively old, though, and really isn’t enforced today in France, that is. In Warrington Bank Quay in England, however, you’ll be asked to move your goodbyes to the legal r kissing zone.


The folks at Grenada really do have a point. Cruisers visiting the beaches for day excursions have taken to strolling city streets in nothing but their bathing suits. In order to reign in a sense of decency, the city has instituted a fine for those who aren’t wearing decent clothing off of the beaches. Fines can reach up to $270 but the local tourist boards would like you to believe that the law is not enforced. Perhaps its best to simply cover up rather than trying to find out for yourself.


Those with gum chewing habits may want to call it quits before heading to Singapore. The government really wants to keep the city clean and will fine you for chewing gum, feeding the birds (it causes poop) and forgetting to flush a public toilet. The only legal gum you can chew is Nicorette but you have to get it from a doctor and they will give your name to government officials to confirm you’re allowed to have a wad in your mouth.

These aren’t the only strange laws around the world but they’re certainly worth noting. Make sure you do your research before leaving on your next trip. Better safe than sorry!

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