What to know

Over the last thousand years, some 3,000 earthquakes have provoked damages more or less severe. About 300 of them (with a magnitude over 5,5) have caused destructive effects and one every 10 years has had catastrophic effects, with an energy comparable to L’Aquila earthquake of 2009. Every Italian municipality can be subjected to earthquake damages, despite the strongest earthquakes concentrate in precise areas: Northern-Eastern Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto), Western Liguria, Northern Apennines (from Garfagnana to the Rimini area), and, above all along the Central and Southern Apennines, in Calabria and Eastern Sicily. You too live in a dangerous area, where, in the past earthquakes occurred or their effects have been perceived. And it could happen in the future too.

A seismic shake provokes oscillations, more or less strong, that move buildings in various ways. The most damaging oscillation are the horizontal ones. The oldest buildings and the ones without seismic protection cannot bear such oscillations and, therefore, represent a danger for people. Collapsing houses kill people, not earthquakes. Today, every new building must be built in compliance with seismic regulations.

It depends on the magnitude of the earthquake (thousands occur every year, and the majority has a low energy) and on the vulnerability of buildings. The area where you live has already suffered damages to things or people. It is possible that the next earthquake will provoke damages: this is why being informed is fundamental, as well as prevention and preparedness for a possible new shake.

Nobody knows, it could happen in any moment. We know lots of things on earthquakes but we can’t predict exactly when, with which energy and where they will occur. However, we know which are the most dangerous area and what to expect from a seismic shake: being prepared is the best way to prevent and reduce the consequences of an earthquake.

On equal distance from the epicentre, the intensity of the shake provoked by the earthquake depends on the conditions of the territory, in particular on the type of soil and structure of the landscape. Generally, the shake is greater where the soil is softer, and minor in case of stiff soils as rock; the position is also important for the effects of the shake: it will be greater on the edge of mountains and along the borders of slopes.

It improves the knowledge of the phenomenon and its effects, through territorial monitoring and by developing specific projects; it promotes and carries out policies to reduce the vulnerability of public and private buildings, to make houses, schools, hospitals, cultural heritage and structures for emergency management safer; it updated seismic classification and regulations, indicating criteria for buildings in areas at risk and for a correct territorial planning; it carries out education programmes, drills and awareness activities for the population: being aware and prepared is a starting point for risk reduction.

Italy is an entirely seismic country but its territory is classified in areas with a different dangerousness. Who builds or modifies the structure of a house must comply with the seismic regulations of their own area, in order to protect the lives of its inhabitants. To know the seismic area where you live and which regulations to follow, ask to the relevant office of your Region or your Municipality.

Safety at home
It is important to know when and how your house was built, on which type of soil and with which materials. Above all, you need to know whether any modification was carried out in compliance with seismic regulations. If you have any doubt or wish to know more, you can ask to the technical office of your Municipality or to an expert technician.

It is important to know when and how your house was built, on which type of soil and with which materials. It is very important to know whether it has been modified in later years, and if in compliance with seismic regulations. If you have a doubt and wish to know more, you can speak to technical office of your municipality or to an expert technician.