What to do
The Italian territory is exposed to seismic risk, thus being prepared for an earthquake is fundamental.
Safety depends mainly on the building where you live. If it is an ant-seismic building, it won't be subject to major damages and will protect you. Wherever you are in the moment of an earthquake, it is very important to keep calm and follow some simple rules of behaviour.
Italy is a seismic country
Over the past thousand years, some 3,000 earthquakes have provoked serious and less serious damages. Almost 300 of them (with a magnitude higher than 5,5) had destructive effects and one every ten years has catastrophic effects, with an energy comparable to the L’Aquila earthquake of 2009. Any Italian municipality can be affected by earthquake effects, despite the strongest earthquakes are focused in the following areas: Northern-Eastern Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto), Western Liguria, Northern Apennines (from Garfagnana to the Rimini area), and, above all, across the Central and Southern Apennines, in Calabria and Eastern Sicily. You too live in a dangerous area, where earthquakes occurred or where their effects were perceived. And it might happen again in the future.
What happens to a building?
A seismic tremor provokes oscillations, strong or less strong, that shake buildings in various ways. The most damaging oscillations are the horizontal ones. The oldest buildings and the ones that were not projected with anti-seismic rules cannot bear such oscillations, and therefore represent a danger for people. Collapsing houses kill people, not the earthquake. Today’s buildings need to be built in compliance with seismic regulations.
Will the next earthquake cause major damage?
It depends mainly on the earthquake strength (thousands of earthquakes occur every year, and the majority of them with low energy) and on the vulnerability of buildings. Earthquakes have already provoked damages to people or goods where you live. The next earthquake can do great harm: this is way we need to be informed, make prevention and be ready for a possible earthquake.
When will the next earthquake occur?
Nobody knows, as it might occur anytime. We know a lot of things about earthquakes, but it is not yet possible to predict when, with which strength and precisely where they will occur. We know, though, which are the most dangerous areas and we know what to expect from an earthquake: being prepared is the best thing towards prevention and reduction of the earthquake consequences.
Are the earthquake effects the same everywhere?
At an equal distance from the epicenter, the intensity of the shaking caused by the earthquake depends on the conditions of the area, in particular the type of soil and the shape of the landscape. Generally, the shaking is greater in areas where the soils are soft, and lesser where soils are rigid as rock; the location has effect too on the intensity of the shaking, which is greater on the top of the hills and along the edges of cliffs.
How can the State help me?
In 2009, after the L’Aquila earthquake, the State launched a national plan for seismic prevention, that includes the allocation to the Regions of a billion euros in seven years with the following objectives:
• surveys of seismic micro-zonation to locate areas that amplify ground shaking;
• interventions to make strategic and relevant public buildings safer;
• subsidies for interventions of seismic improvements on private buildings.
Where you live
The whole Italian peninsula is seismic, but the territory is divided in zone with different levels of dangerousness. Who builds or modifies the structure of a house must respect seismic rules of their own area, to protect who lives there. To know the seismic area where you live and which regulations you need to follow, contact the relevant offices of your Region or your Municipality.
Safety of your home
It is important to know when and how your house was built, on what type of terrain, with what materials. And especially if it has been amended respecting the seismic standards. If you have any questions or if you want to know more, you can contact the technical department of your local authority or a trusted technician.
You need to know when and how your house was built, on which type of soil, with which materials.