Safe TRIANGLE during earthquakes

Subject: Save your life with “The Triangle of Life”

  1.  Thinking about hiding under a table or standing in a doorway?
  2. Well, forget it! This is a real eye opener. It could save your life someday.

Without listening or reading, but by simply by looking at the following self-explanatory photos, you can learn more than in a thousand words about how to protect yourself during a major earthquake…

Source:Earthquake – Triangle of Life from Joe’s Inspiration blog



If you are inside a vehicle, come out and sit or lie down next to it. If something falls on the vehicle, it will leave an empty space along the sides. See 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, and 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.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse:

  1. the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects,
  2. leaving a space or void next to them
  3. NOT under them.
This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life’.
  1. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact.
  2. The less the object compacts,
  3. the larger the void,
  4. 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.


A) Most everyone who simply

  1. ‘ducks and covers’ when building collapse
  2. are crushed to death.
  3. People who get under objects,
  4. like desks or cars, are crushed.

    B) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position.

  5. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct.
  6. You can survive in a smaller void.
  7. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a bed, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

    C) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake.

  8. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake.
  9. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created.
  10. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight.
  11. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

    D) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed.

  12. A safe void will exist around the bed.
  13. 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.

    E) 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.

    F) Most or everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed.

  14. 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!

    G) Never go to the stairs.

  15. The stairs have a different ‘moment of frequency’
  16. (they swing separately from the main part of the building).
  17. The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place.
  18. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads – horribly mutilated.
  19. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged.
  20. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people.
  21. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

    H) Get near the outer walls of buildings or outside of them if possible –

  22. It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior.
  23. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

    I) 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.

  24. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed.
  25. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles.
  26. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them.
  27. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

    J) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact.

  28. 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’
    Subject: Save your life with “The Triangle of Life”

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21 Responses to “Safe TRIANGLE during earthquakes”

  1. drkokogyi Says:

    Analysis: The American Red Cross took the unusual step of contacting me directly to refute the above text, which a representative of the group politely characterized as “incorrect.”

    According to Red Cross community disaster education manager Rocky Lopes, author Doug Copp’s earthquake survival suggestions don’t apply in the United States because they’re based on observations made in Turkey, where engineering and construction standards are different. “Much research in the United States has confirmed that ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On!’ has saved lives in the United States,” writes Lopes. “Engineering researchers have demonstrated that very few buildings collapse or ‘pancake’ in the U.S. as they might do in other countries.”

    Other experts concur, even to the point of suggesting that some of Copp’s advice could endanger people’s lives rather than save them. “Some of the things he recommends are absolutely dangerous, like getting out of your car and lying down next to the car,” UCLA public health expert Kimberley Shoaf told Knight Ridder Newspapers in November 2004. A former deputy director of the California Office of Emergency Services, Mark Ghilarducci, agreed that “duck, cover and hold on” remains the best overall strategy for survival during an earthquake.

  2. drkokogyi Says:

    May be “duck, cover and hold on” remains the best overall strategy for survival during an earthquake in USA where “Engineering researchers have demonstrated that very few buildings collapse or ‘pancake’. Because “The Triangle of Life” is based on observations made in Turkey, where engineering and construction standards are different. SO it may be CORRECT IN MYANMAR AND MALAYSIA.

  3. Where to Go During an Earthquake « My Blissfully Cluttered Territory Says:

    […] Safe TRIANGLE during earthquakes ( […]

  4. Sherrie Green (@SherrieLBGreen) Says:

    “I) 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.

    24. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed.”

    Wikipedia says this:
    “The worst disaster of the earthquake was the collapse of the two-level Cypress Street Viaduct of Interstate 880 in West Oakland. The failure of a 1.25-mile (2.0 km) section[46] of the viaduct, also known as the “Cypress Structure” and the “Cypress Freeway”,[4] killed 42 and injured many more.[47]”

    And this: The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge suffered relatively minor damage, as a 76-by-50-foot (23 m × 15 m) section of the upper deck on the eastern cantilever side fell onto the deck below. The quake caused the Oakland side of the bridge to shift 7 in (18 cm) to the east, and caused the bolts of one section to shear off, sending the 250-short-ton (230 t) section of roadbed crashing down like a trapdoor.[44] When that part of the bridge collapsed, one car drove into the hole, resulting in the death of the driver.

    This means that 43 people lost their lives in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, on collapsed bridges. There were many survivors of the Cypress Street Viaduct of Interstate 880. This earthquake occurred during rush hour and there were many cars on the lower level. The upper level collapsed and was held up by all of the cars on the lower deck. Only 41 people lost their lives on the lower deck. This is far fewer than all of the people on the in their cars on the lower deck, as you stated.

  5. Tamara Torres Says:

    So should you get out of your car or not? This is so confusing. Everyone had different information

  6. Tom Says:

    I live in LA. Sorry, but … I’m not buying this at all. While I suspect the odds are that, yes, you would be better off being next to a large object if there are objects above you (like another apartment, or several floors of a building), the odds that you have time to deal with this are slim. The last large quake I felt lasted about 1 second.

    Of course, you could still be skewered by a steel i-beam anyway. Those things don’t give a shit what’s next to you if they’re coming down like a dagger out of the sky.

    “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.”

    I’m sure if they had three or four minutes to think about it, they could have curled up under the dashboard — and died anyway, since it’s a damn FREEWAY weighing THOUSANDS of pounds collapsing on their little Ford Fiat. Or Hummer. They probably have about the same roof strength.

    Even so … since they didn’t (they probably had 2 seconds) they’re screwed either way.

    Folks, a little common sense. An earthquake lasts a few seconds. Just enough time for you to panic, and not enough time for you to make logical choices. Think: heart attack.

    The fact that people take posts like this seriously really irritates me.

    • ZOSO1 Says:

      i also live in LA. while we do have much stricter building codes, we still have many at risk buildings if a large quake were to happen. they recently released a report saying that there are hundreds of older brick buildings and thousands of ‘dingbats’ (those crappy 2 or 3 story apartment buildings with parking underneath supported by thin columns) that are very high risk.
      and bigger quakes last a lot longer than a few seconds. i remember, as a kid, the northridge quake lasting for around (at least?) a minute, and i had time to run through my house to prevent our old china cabenet from falling over. i had plenty of time to wake up, realize what was happening, decide what to do, change my mind, run around, bounce off the walls… it seemed like it kept going and going and going. long rolling motion.
      i think this is actually very valuable information, and it really depends on what kind of building you are in or what your surroundings are. you have to think quick, and knowing these kinds of tips could save your life.

  7. Tom Says:

    I really wish more people exercised an effort at basic, common sense. STOP reading posts on the interwebs and just assuming they’re right. “OH! Should I get out of my car or not!?” If you have to ask, you are not a thinking person.

    IT DOES NOT MATTER. You are in your car. The earthquake is hitting. You are either parked or moving at (whatever) MPH. In either case, you have ZERO time to affect change.

    Now, this is where it gets interesting because the state of California is testing out an “earthquake warning system.”

    This is smart. What they realized is that there are millions of cell phones with accelerometers built into them. If they can get a lot of those phones installing an app that keeps track of the phone’s vibrations, they have millions of data points to see what is happening when an earthquake occurs.

    Sure enough, that’s what they’re doing.

    If you are at ground zero, you won’t get any warning. But if the quake occurs in Santa Monica and you live in Pasadena, you might get just enough warning to get under the bed. Which gets us back to the original post. 🙂

  8. Whane The Whip Says:

    The reason people duck and cover is to protect from head injuries as debris falls, not to stop a ceiling from caving in. And half the photos above show only one side of the object with a “triangle” space. Most earthquakes wont demolish a building so crouching down next to a desk instead of under it can kill you when something like a bookshelf rocks over and falls on your head.

    It’s not the falling ceiling you will encounter, it’s more likely an object in the room that will hit you on the head.

    • Monica Says:

      I 100% agree with “Whane the Whip”. I live in LA and know that you’re more likely to get crushed by objects falling than a building caving. Also, I call BS on this article because it is a horrible idea to head to the exterior of a building in an earthquake. The most damage happens on the outside of buildings. Check the FEMA website, not one persons opinion from the article above.

  9. jack Says:

    right that is a very good study at my school we don’t do that way of surviving an earthquake.

  10. Robert Says:

    Nothing can guarantee your life won’t be snuffed out in an earthquake. Most of the time it comes on so fast and is so intense that no one has time to get to anywhere “safe” and they just have to stay where they are and pray.

    I realize it’s important for people to be educated about this so they can take any prevention possible, but let’s be real. You are where you are and when it happens a sheer amount of luck is involved in you surviving.

    I’m sure some people have survived in the “safe triangle” while others have survived using other methods. Likewise, some people die no matter what they do! It’s no different than how some people get into collisions going 90kph on the highway and survive, yet someone going 40-50kph is killed.

    We have limited control over what happens. Take prevention but don’t kid yourselves.

  11. Joyce Nelson Says:

    Thanks for the education on safety during an earthquake. I will keep this and study it carefully. It will save my life and maybe someone else. I appreciate your knowledge and for passing It on to others.

  12. Linda C. Kaye Says:

    … it’s all too much… .. I think the best possible thing to do when at home for an earthquake is yes, try to protect your head..wherever you are… (would that we could wear helmets around all day – like never 🙂 but the next best thing if in bed, is to try to protect yourself with pillows… forget it if you are in the shower… that is my nightmare thought for the day… sorry…

  13. Carlos Says:

    I’m glad I live in Florida … We have 4-5 days to prepare for a hurricane !!!

  14. Jenny May Chen Says:

    This seems like a good idea. Except that during the Loma Prieta earthquake of ’89, a lot of people were driving on the freeway when it collapsed. It wasn’t stopped traffic. There was no way the drivers or passengers on 880 could’ve avoided being smashed by the 2nd deck. Being in a moving vehicle, they probably weren’t even aware that an earthquake was occurring. It would still be better for a person to have the vehicle take most of the force of the blow, rather than being outside the vehicle and get hit directly by falling or flying debris.

  15. Lisa Says:

    What happens if you’re on the right side of that desk in the picture? 😉

  16. Monique Says:

    How are you supposed to predict which side will be the “safe triangle” and which will be the side that gets crushed? Look at the examples in the pictures and in each case, there’s a “safe triangle” on one side of the object, and not the other. This is terrible and useless advice, because there’s no way to know where the ceiling/floor will buckle and where there will be a solid slab that gets held up by an object. And I was in the east bay for the ’89 quake and everybody on the Nimitz did NOT die! They were pulling out survivors for days, and those people had been in moving vehicles going probably 65mph when the structure collapsed, so no, they couldn’t have just jumped out of their cars and laid down next to them. That statement to me called the entire story into question, because if the author was really there he would know that! The safest place in an earthquake is outside, but failing that I will stick with under a sturdy piece of furniture. Look at the first example with the dark grey desk and think about if you’d rather take your chances of being on the “safety triangle” side where large chunks of concrete fell on the floor, the other side where a cabinet buckled and was pushed up against the desk, or UNDER the desk, where there is no rubble or debris.

  17. Jimmy Cha - How to save your life during an earthquake Says:

    […] […]

  18. sean Says:

    This information has impacts on other lives. I want to share it.

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