How to Survive an Earthquake in Chile

Want to know what an earthquake feels like? Go to Chile!

Earthquake Chile

As you may or may not know, earthquakes are a very common natural occurrence in Chile. The country falls directly along a Seduction zone, which means that the eastern edge of the huge Nazca tectonic Plate is pushing down on to the South American Plate at about 3 ½ inches a year. This pressure builds up and eventually releases into powerful earthquakes and tremors like the 1960 9.5 magnitudes that struck Valdivia, and an 8.8 that struck offshore near Concepcion in 2015. The list goes on and on.

Sounds scary right? The pressure can release at any moment and there is nothing you can do about it. Chileans have some kind of super power as nothing below a magnitude 7 on the Richter scale phases them. They make memes and brush it off like someone just bumped into them.

After 6 years of living in Chile, Earthquakes are just about the only things that I can’t get used to. You can’t prepare, you just have to hang on. You learn to live with them just like how people up north deal with the snow. You have to laugh so you don’t cry and go crazy. Through the years, I hear the same jokes and “rules of earthquake behavior” that Chileans live by. I’ve learned how to laugh about it afterward, but never during.

I’ve interpreted and translated my own “rules of earthquake behavior” from friends and the beautiful people of Chile that live in the internet world so you that can be prepared and learn how to survive a Chilean earthquake. I hope you find some humor in it like the Chilean people do:

Chile Anti-Earthquake Manual for Foreigners:

Please read the following reactions of Chilean during different magnitudes of Earthquakes. These are guidelines of how you should also react in the case of a tremor or earthquake in Chile:

Magnitude 1-3.9: Absolutely no Reaction.

The Chilean people have mutated and are now incapable of feeling any seismic activity at such a low level. It’s like second nature to them. Honestly, you most likely won’t feel this either. Don’t even bother asking anyone if there was an earthquake, they might just laugh at you.

Magnitude 4-5.9: Still no Reaction.

The Chilean people know that the earth is moving, but they are not going to stop what they are doing or even mention that the building is moving. If you’re on a bus, riding the subway, or walking down the street you most likely won’t feel anything. Life goes on. You are most likely concerned because you feel a little bit a moving. If you don’t see anyone worrying, neither should you. You start to get the feeling that these Chileans are crazy.

Magnitude 6-6.9: Chileans say “Ta temblando”

Translation? “It’s moving!” So you may think that it’s the end of the world but have no fear. You are just experiencing a tremor. Stay exactly where you are because it could potentially be dangerous if you try to move. Did I scare you? Well, I’m just kidding, it may just be hard to walk and stay balanced. Stay calm and look at a Chilean and see what their reaction is. Remember, Earthquakes are a normal occurrence in Chile. Don’t let a tremor like this ruin your trip and please don’t be afraid to return.

Magnitude 7-7.9: Chilean say: “Ta fuerte la wea!”

Translation? “This shit is strong!” This is when the Chilean people would call this an earthquake. If this were any other country, a state of emergency would most likely occur, but not in Chile. Builders follow strict construction codes and standards can withhold an earthquake much strong than a 7.9. And if the building doesn’t meet those standards, they already fell to the ground years ago. We would understand if you never wanted to come back. Again, look and see how the Chileans are reacting. Some may be a little shaking, most stop to see if everyone is OK. If this magnitude earthquake happened during a party, people would be making sure they didn’t spill their drink and then once everything settles, continue partying. Go big or go home right?

Magnitude 8-8.9: “CSM”

Translation: “WTF” Hang on tight because if you don’t, you will fall to the ground. This time around don’t just look to see what the Chilean will do, do exactly as they do. Find a door frame and try to stay calm. Don’t cry and scream even if you want to. It makes everything scarier. It’s most likely nothing will happen, you might find things will fall to the ground and tip over, but don’t worry the next day we will pick them up and life goes on.

Magnitude 9+: Start Praying

This is now serious, the world might end. Apocalyptic style. Whatever you believe in, pray to that. If you don’t believe in anything, just think about everything you love and let life flash before your eyes. Because tomorrow is a new day and there will be some cleaning up to do.

So now you know. Talk to a Chilean about this and you’ll see how they try and find humor in something that only mother nature can control. On a serious note, if you do happen to experience an strong earthquake, ask the front desk at your hotel what you should do, turn the TV on and see if the government has issued any evacuation notice or just turn to twitter and follow these pages for the latest updates.

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