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Costa Rica prepares to test earthquake readiness

July 10, 2019

If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, it’s important to know what to do when one hits.

Costa Rica is one of those places.

According to the National Emergency Commission (CNE), Costa Rica averages 350 earthquakes each month, or about 12 each day. You’d be hard-pressed to notice the majority of them — you might not feel it at all, or mistake it for a truck rumbling down the street.

But every once in a while, an earthquake causes significant damage in Costa Rica. (Want a reminder? Here’s a list!)

The United States’ Department of Homeland Security recommends the following when an earthquake hits:

  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over and stop. Set your parking brake.
  • If you are in bed, turn face down and cover your head and neck with a pillow.
  • If you are outdoors, stay outdoors away from buildings.
  • Do not get in a doorway.
  • Do not run outside.

Costa Rica’s CNE says to “first and foremost, remain calm.” If you are indoors, walk outside — taking stairs instead of elevators — to an area away from damaged buildings and electric power lines.

CNE is hosting a nationwide earthquake simulacrum, or drill, on Monday, August 19 to help Costa Rica prepare for evacuations in the event of a large tremor. The organization expects more than a million people across the country to participate in the event.

To participate in the simulacro:

  • Sign up by completing this form.
  • Learn safe evacuation methods and plan an evacuation route using CNE documentation.
  • Evacuate! At 10 a.m. on August 19, evacuate as if there had been a major earthquake. Report the evacuation via a CNE app, which will be released in August.

While this will be the first earthquake drill of this scale in Costa Rica, other institutions have held similar events in the past. In 2015, nearly 60,000 people — including emergency response agencies, public offices and businesses — participated in a mock evacuation in San José.

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