The motions of the plates cause earthquakes and
volcanoes. When a volcano erupts or an earthquake shakes the ground, it can
have a profound effect on the lives of people that live nearby. These events
are natural phenomena that cannot be "stopped" by human
intervention. Scientists cannot engineer a way to prevent erupting or
shaking. People need to cope with these possible dangers. Danger and damage
can be minimal if certain logical steps are taken. To illustrate this
concept, this unit will emphasize earthquake hazards and what to do when an
earthquake shakes the ground.
When an earthquake strikes, many people are
unprepared. Fear takes over their body and mind. The mind thinks quickly
looking for a memory that might help them, but if there is no memory of what
to do the body is just stricken with inactivity. The more a child hears
about what to do in a disaster, the most likely they will react.
- Remind the students that earthquakes and volcanoes are caused by plate
movement. Emphasize that earthquakes and volcanoes are natural. Explain
that disasters only occur when people are hurt by one of these events,
and that most eruptions and earthquakes cause little or no destruction
to people and property.
- Discuss what the students should do during a severe earthquake. This
would be an event where utilities were offline, much structural damage
occurred, and communications were disrupted. Fires and other secondary
disasters might also occur. To prepare for this scenario, students need
to be informed about where they should seek shelter and whom they should
contact. Most earthquakes are only small tremors, but one must always be
- The answers to this exercise will vary from area to area. For example,
services available in an urban as opposed to a rural area will be
different. Try to have the students assess why they should go to a
certain area and not to another. Remember that structures such as
electrical lines probably will go down during a severe earthquake, so be
sure to discuss dangerous areas to avoid. This exercise can be used in
different situations such as at home, at school, and at church. If you
do not know the answers for your area, consult your principal who should
have a school disaster plan. Many states require them by law.
Students should seek a safe area after the shaking ends. Families,
schools, and churches should all have a "safe" area where all
members should meet, so that everyone is accounted for, and damage can
be assessed. Places like a firehouse will not be a good place to go
because firemen will be out helping the community. Schools may be
designated in your state as focal places for communities. Emphasize to
the students that after the quake, they should logically think of what
is the safest place for them. Second graders are old enough to assess
danger versus safety.
Students should learn that they should not hide during an earthquake.
Their parents, teachers, and friends need to know that the child is
safe, so hiding will not help the situation.
Discuss that the students may not be able to call for help after an
earthquake, because phone lines might be down. If they are operating,
only one phone call might get through, so the students should know in
advance who and where they are going to call.
- If you know the name of the school, local fire house, and any other
locations, have the students write their names on the worksheet.