"Triangle of Life" : Wrong for the USA

by Patrick Muffler

An e-mail from one Doug Copp once again is making its rounds on the Internet. With the catchy title of "Triangle of Life", the e-mail states that going underneath objects in an earthquake is very dangerous. This position is totally opposed to the "Drop, Cover and Hold On" recommendations of the American Red Cross. These American Red Cross recommendations are based on exhaustive research by entities such as the California Office of Emergency Services, the California Seismic Safety Commission and the Red Cross itself. Copp's recommendations may be of use in the many countries where building codes do not exist or are routinely flouted, but they are not applicable to the United States, where modern building codes exist and are enforced. The Red Cross "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" remains the credible recommendation for the United States, particularly California, which has been the leader in earthquake safety.

The American Red Cross response to "Triangle of Life" can be found at http://www2.bpaonline.org/Emergencyprep/arc-on-doug-copp.html. Please do not be misled by the unfortunate ambiguity in the italicized first paragraph -- "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" is NOT a synonym for "Triangle of Life". The American Red Cross position is that "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" is correct, accurate and appropriate for use in the United States for earthquake safety, and that "Triangle of Life" is incorrect, inaccurate, and inappropriate for use in the United States.

The "Duck, Cover, and Hold On" procedure is also firmly recommended by the Office of Emergency Services of the City of Palo Alto in an e-mail to PANDA personnel dated 13 September 2004. Correct procedures are outlined at http://www.pafd.org/earthquake/famsafety.html

In short, all responsible emergency-preparedness entities support the "Duck, Cover, and Hold On" procedure in response to an earthquake in the United States and disassociate themselves from Copp's recommendations.

Version Info: $Revision: $ $Date: $