So, you’ve found yourself in a building collapse. Nice going. Shouldn’t you be somewhere else, like, I don’t know, maybe a building that hasn’t collapsed yet? Ok fine, I’ll try to help. Just remember the first bit next time you do something like this. It’s a whole lot easier to get out of situations of which you never see the beginning. That said, you’re not in an impossible situation. Difficult, yes. Also likely fatal. But not entirely impossible.
Your building may have collapsed from any multitude of causes. Terrorism. Natural Disaster. Karen from HR’s diet totally not working. It doesn’t matter. Trapped in a collapsed building is trapped all the same. You just gotta get out before you run out of blood. So how are you gonna do it?
Stage 1 – As You Notice Signs That Your Building Is Collapsing
Exit the building if possible. Prior knowledge of your nearest emergency exits, as well as the floor plan of the building, are advisable. This is not possible with every single building you may enter, but at you should at least know the fastest ways out of the buildings in which you spend a lot of time. Your home, workplace, and county court for example.
If you can’t leave the building, you will need some cover. Shelter under a desk or table, and if you can’t reach one in time, in a doorway. You need extra structure around your body to protect you from falling parts of the building. Note that if you’re in a lower floor of a multistory collapse, you will still probably die as your table, desk, or doorway is unable to support the amount of material coming down. So yeah, there’s that.
Stage 2 – As The Building Collapse Takes Place
As you hide under a desk or table, cover your nose and mouth with whatever you’re wearing. This will create a coarse filter to keep concrete dust and possibly asbestos out of your airways. Cover your head with your arms to absorb the impact of any falling structure or debris that isn’t big enough to kill you. Your flesh may be damaged and your bones may even break if you’re hit, but at least it won’t be your brain receiving the trauma. Wait for things to stabilise. If you’re still alive when the building has stopped moving, well done.
Stage 3 – Examine Your Situation
At this point, your knowledge of the building’s layout may have been rendered irrelevant. A building collapse means that obstacles may be where they weren’t, and exits may also have opened that were not planned by the building’s designers.
If any part of your body is pinned by fallen rubble, take the time to observe what is on you. If you can move, don’t immediately try to get out. Instead, first make sure that moving the rubble won’t disrupt other rubble prompting further collapse. There may be things heavy enough to injure or kill you that are precariously balanced on you. If you can safely remove yourself without making more things fall down, do so. You can then begin to seek an exit to the building.
If you are pinned and cannot move, possibly with broken bones, look for a way to signal for help. If you have a cell phone or portable device that has reception, use it to call for help. Make sure to do this as soon as possible so that rescuers will know that you need help. Provide any additional information that you can, such as your location and injuries. If you have no cell phone reception you can use your phone light to signal for help. Rescue dogs can pick up on light and sound, so signal for all you’re worth.
Stage 4 – Escape From A Building Collapse
If you can move and have safely removed yourself from the rubble without collapsing it onto yourself, now is the time get moving. The collapse of the building you’re in will have ruptured gas pipes, making it an even more dangerous environment in which to stay. Exit the building through whatever means necessary. If you find that you are in fact trapped inside the collapsed building, signal for rescuers while trying not to further upset the structure.