How to Live through an Explosion

Although it’s rare, explosions do occasionally happen. Whether the cause is an industrial accident or an act of terrorism, knowing what to do in the event of an explosion can help save your life, or the lives of others around you. There’s very little you can do ahead of time to prepare for this. What you can do is react appropriately after an explosion, whether it’s at home or work.

The Initial Blast

The first thing you should do after an explosion is get to a safe area. An explosion can cause major structural damage to a building, causing the roof or ceilings to collapse. Get under a desk or another sturdy piece of furniture. Once the initial shockwave is past, get out of the building quickly. If you have time, grab your “bug out” or “get-out-of-Dodge” bag. You may need it during the aftermath of an explosion.

Exiting the Building

If you’re at work or in another public place, don’t use the elevator. Elevators can become unstable from an explosion, and the power may soon go out, if it hasn’t already. There may be a fire, smoke or dust and debris in the air. Breathe through a cloth (wet it first if you have time) as you make your way out of the building. Check doors to see if they’re hot before opening them. Remember your fire safety plan, and follow it accordingly to find an exit from the building. If you’re at home, make sure all family members are accounted for once you’re safely out of the house.

What to Do If You’re Trapped

If you’re trapped in a room or buried under debris in an explosion, don’t panic (this is easier said than done). Dust that accumulates and then settles after an explosion can be hazardous to breathe. Try to breathe through a piece of cloth or clothing if you’re able.

Avoid moving around as much as possible, so you don’t stir up more dust. Screaming for help can do more harm than good, because you could breathe in heavy amounts of toxic particles in the air. To signal for help, tap on a wall or hard surface. Rescue workers will be listening for this as they search for survivors.

The Aftermath

If you’ve made it out of the building or your home after an explosion, this is where your “bug out” bag comes into use. You may need first aid or medical supplies to treat yourself or others. Power outages are common after explosions, and can sometimes last for a week or more. The supplies you gather ahead of time for your emergency kit are crucial for this time: a water purifier, food, medical supplies, tools, a tent, warm clothing and more.

Though you can’t predict an explosion, you can prepare. Know your basic fire safety tips and emergency exits. Don’t panic as you’re exiting the building or if you’re trapped by debris. Have an emergency supply kit ready for the aftermath, and you’ll be as ready as you can in the event of an explosion.