What to do in the event of a tremor/earthquake

What to do in the event of a tremor/earthquake
Although earthquakes/tremors do not commonly occur in most parts of South Africa, it is still considered necessary to take note of the below guidelines regarding what to do if an earthquake, severe tremor (or tremor as recently happened) should occur:



  • Stay calm and kneel or sit on the floor (before the tremors knock you down). This position protects you from falling and allows you to still move around if necessary.
  • Crawl under a large sturdy object (such as a strong table or desk) to avoid being struck by falling debris from the roof/ceiling/walls/windows. Cover your head/neck with your arms/hands.
  • Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.
  • If there is nothing sturdy to crawl under then position yourself at an interior wall near the centre of the building. Interior walls are less likely to collapse than outer / exterior walls.
  • Stay away from windows, mirrors, loose standing cupboards, shelves, light fixtures and ceiling fans (i.e. anything that could fall on you).
  • Stay inside until the tremors and shaking stops and until it is considered safe to go outside.
  • Use the stairs to evacuate from a building (not the elevator/lift) and only evacuate when it is considered safe to do so. Do not exit a building during the tremors/shaking.
  • Be aware that the power may go out and sprinkler systems or fire alarms may be activated.



  • Stay calm and move away from exterior walls of buildings to avoid being struck by falling debris from collapsing walls, windows and roof tiles/sheeting.
  • Move away from power cables, trees and structures that may collapse and fall on you.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the tremors/shaking stops while covering your head and neck with your arms and hands.



  • Stay calm and stop the vehicle as quickly but as safely as possible.
  • Do not stop next to buildings and large trees or under bridges and overhead power lines.
  • If considered safe to do so, stay in the vehicle.
  • Proceed cautiously after the earthquake has stopped avoiding damaged roads/bridges.



  • Stay calm and do not disturb unstable structures which may cause further collapse.
  • Try not to inhale dust by covering your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • If possible, shout or tap on a pipe, wall or any other object so rescuers can locate you.


Jonathan De Villiers



5.3 tremor shakes Witsies

Witsies were left shaken when a magnitude 5.3 earthquake was felt in Johannesburg shortly after noon on Tuesday.

The U.S. (United States) Geological Survey said the epicenter of the quake was in Orkney in North West 120km southwest of Johannesburg.  The earthquake measured 5.3 on the Richter scale at a depth of 10km.

The quake was felt in Johannesburg, Klerksdorp, Durban and as far as neighbouring countries like Mozambique and Botswana.

First-year BA student Samukele Biyela felt the earthquake but thought the shaking sensation was because of medication she had taken earlier.

“Because I did not see reactions of people around me I thought I was going crazy,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.

Third-year Media Studies student Mxolisi Mkhabela said he was caught in a building during the earthquake and jumped from flight-to-flight of stairs in an effort to flee.

“I fell and hurt my leg,” he said. “I thought I was going to die.”