More on Westmont's Earthquake Response Plan What About the Triangle of Life?

A suggested alternative means of personal protection in case of earthquake has circulated popularly via email in recent years. It appears to make a rather compelling case.

However, the author's suggestions are generally considered better suited for countries where earthquake buildings standards are less refined than those typical in the developed countries. The concept has a few proponents and many detractors. The Red Cross and essentially all American emergency management organizations have concluded that the Duck/Cover/HoldOn approach remains preferable in the US.
For some quick counter-perspective input on the triangle plan, see the following.

In dialog we had with a renowned earthquake expert at USC, he related the following (edited for clarity):

  • "If you can correctly identify a space that will become a triangle when your building collapses (which depends on the direction of shaking, which you can't predict), then you will be relatively safe. The triangle theory, though, can be dangerous to the extent that it recommends getting next to a desk or table, even if you could instead get under it. And one's options are limited when in the triangle-recommended fetal position, rather than holding on to the object so that you can move with it when it likely moves around (or be ready to scramble if it falls on you). Being next to an article of furniture rather than under it exposes you to the major source of injuries--falling debris.
  • "The triangle plan also recommends getting out of your car during earthquake and laying on the ground, no matter what. Unfortunately, this exposes you to being run over by other cars or bounced upon by your own car."

Westmont does not take a position recommending against seeking an available triangle, but it seems prudent for us to align with the preponderance of the evidence and expert credibility in the guidance we offer our campus community. Thus we recommend the standard "Duck, Cover & Hold On".

Further on this topic can be found at and