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Emergency Response

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While residing in South Korea, there is always a possibility that one may end up in an unexpected emergency situation of some sort. Therefore it is advised to find out in advance what one should do in case such a situation arises. By familiarizing oneself with different safety guidelines in advance, one will be able to act more calmly when faced with a dangerous situation in real life. The following six emergency situations will work as examples of how to act during times of emergency as well as natural disasters.
A) Earthquake B) Typhoon C) Flood D) Wildfire E) Fire F) Traffic accident G) Other useful information

A) Earthquake

  • If you are inside your house / a building
    1. It is important to protect your head and body. When the shaking starts, go under a sturdy table and grab on to the legs in order to protect your body and avoid from getting hurt by falling objects.
    2. Once the shaking stops make sure to turn off the gas and electricity and secure an exit route. After this, use the stairs to exit the building. (Do NOT use an elevator)
    3. Once you are outside, cover your head with a bag or hands and evacuate to an open space, such as a park or a sports ground.
    4. Once you have arrived to the open space make sure to act according to instructions available on radio broadcasts or announced directly by public officials.
  • If you are outside
    1. Make sure to cover your head and watch out for falling objects such as pieces of broken glass or big signs.
    2. Keep as much distance as possible to nearby buildings during the earthquake. Once the shaking stops, evacuate to an open space, such as a park or a sports ground.
    3. Once you have arrived to the open space make sure to act according to the instructions available on radio broadcasts or announced by public officials.

B) Typhoon

  • In the event of a typhoon warning
    1. If possible, avoid going outside during a typhoon.
    2. Prepare torches that you may use in the event of a blackout. Discuss emergency measures and contact methods with your family members in advance.
    3. Do not park your car in the basement of a building that is in danger of later becoming submerged under water. Also, make sure to help people living in basement floors to evacuate to a safer location.
    4. Keep distance from large signs, telephone poles, street lights et cetera. Also, refrain from doing electrical work at home.
    5. Refrain from going to rooftops and basements of apartment buildings and other high-rise buildings. Also, do not go near manholes or sewerage.
    6. Residents of apartment buildings or other high-rise buildings are advised to use wet newspaper, tape or other similar material to cover the windows to prevent them from breaking. Also, keep distance from the windows.
    7. Use sandbags or other similar objects in places necessary to prevent water from overflowing.
    8. If there are objects that might fly off the ground because of the strong wind, make sure to move them to a safer place.
    9. Reduce speed while driving.
    10. In case your house was submerged under water during a typhoon, it is advised to ventilate the house before going inside as the house may be filled with gas. Also, it is advised to have the gas, electricity and water supply systems checked up before using them.

C) Flood​

  • In case a flood is expected to occur, follow radio and TV broadcasts or use the Internet to keep up with the changes in weather. Also, shut off the gas valve and turn off the circuit breaker.
  • In case a flood emerges suddenly, make sure to swiftly evacuate to locations higher up.
  • Avoid areas where there is a risk of rock falls or landslides.
  • Avoid driving in areas submerged under water.
  • Once you arrive to the designated place of refuge, inform others of your arrival and follow the instructions given.
  • In case your house was submerged under water during a typhoon, it is advised to have the gas, electricity and water supply systems checked up before use.

D) Wildfire​

  1. If you come across fire in the wilderness, inform the authorities by calling 119 (Fire Department) or 112 (Police).
  2. If the fire is in its beginning stages, try to extinguish the fire by beating or covering it with branches.
  3. In case you fail at extinguishing the fire, head away from the scene. As wildfire moves with the wind, take into consideration the direction of the wind as you move away. Try to stay away from the possible route of the wildfire.
  4. If you are surrounded by fire, do not panic. Calmly look around for possible ways out, be it already burnt ground, lowland, a spot with less trees, a road or a spot behind rocks.
  5. Do not go to areas located higher up than the spot of the fire.
  6. If there is no time to evacuate, face away from the wind, remove possible fallen leaves and branches on the ground and lie face down. Wait for rescuers.
  • If the wildfire moves towards residential area
    1. In order to prevent houses from catching on fire, close all doors and windows and spray the surroundings of the house with water. Remove gas or oil barrels from the surroundings.
    2. If evacuation orders are issued, follow the instructions of public officials and head calmly away from the fire towards fields, school yards or other empty spaces distant from the woods.
    3. Make sure to check that the residents of the neighboring houses are aware of the situation.

E) Fire

  1. When you first discover fire, alert others of the situation by shouting “Fire! (“불이야! (Bul-ee-yah!)” in Korean)” and press the fire alarm button.
  2. In case the fire is in its beginning stages try to extinguish it by using a fire extinguisher. (See also “How to use a fire extinguisher”)
  3. If you are unable to put out the fire, exit the building. Use the stairs (NOT the elevator!). In case the fire erupted in the lower floors of the building and you are therefore unable to exit, head for the rooftop instead.
    1. If there is a lot of smoke, use a wet towel to cover your mouth and crawl or keep low when heading outside.
    2. If you are forced to run through flames, use a wet towel or a blanket to cover your body and face.
    3. If it is impossible to leave the house, keep the door closed and seal it with wet towels or clothing in order to prevent the smoke from coming inside. Wait for rescuers to arrive.
  • Call 119 from a safe location.
  • How to use a fire extinguisher
    • 1. Move the fire extinguisher closer to the scene of the fire.
    • 2. Pull out the safety pin located in the handle.
    • 3. Face away from the wind and direct the hose at the base of the fire.
    • 4. Hold tight on the handle and sweep the hose from side to side.

F) Traffic accident

  1. If the accident involves a vehicle transporting hazardous substances, it is advised stay away from the scene of the accident.
  2. Unless a fire breaks out in the car, do not attempt to move the wounded. Call 119 and request for help.
  3. Once the rescue teams have arrived, it is advised to leave the scene of the accident in order for the rescue operation to progress smoothly.
  4. Because there is a risk that oil or gas leak from the vehicle and catch on fire, it is forbidden to smoke anywhere near the scene of the accident.

Other useful information on safety