Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness
The following information focuses on earthquakes because seismic activity poses a significant risk for Romania. However, Romania is at risk for other natural and manmade hazards. While much of the information below specifically addresses earthquakes, it is applicable to multiple hazards, and we encourage you to think broadly about the possible risks you and your family may face and to be prepared for any kind of emergency that may arise.
Romania is situated in a seismically active region and has a history of devastating and deadly earthquakes. The Bucharest area has experienced a number of tremors of varying intensities, and the probability that a severe and damaging earthquake will occur is high. The consequences of such a disaster will vary greatly depending upon the circumstances surrounding the quake, and no one can predict with any certainty what conditions will exist immediately following an intensive shock.
It is prudent that everyone be prepared to care for themselves in the immediate aftermath of a major earthquake. Every family and company should develop its own emergency plan, stock its own emergency survival kit, and ensure that its personnel and their family members familiarize themselves with emergency procedures and take precautions to protect their personal safety.
The Role of the Embassy
The Romanian Government is responsible for assisting foreigners in the event of a disaster, but authorities may be stretched beyond their capacity to respond in the immediate aftermath of a major earthquake. Telephone services will be severely overloaded, if they are functioning at all, and the Romanian Government will likely restrict phone use to priority users. Nonetheless, the Embassy will quickly want to ascertain the welfare and whereabouts of American citizens.
To aid in this process, American citizens should cooperate with Romanian authorities at evacuation sites and clearly identify themselves as Americans. Those connected with larger organizations such as companies, schools, or church groups should try to let these organizations know of their welfare and whereabouts if this is practical. If possible, American citizens should try to contact their American Citizen Services wardens and/or the Embassy.
The Embassy will be in touch with the Romanian Government and with larger umbrella organizations to attempt to identify as many American citizens as possible and determine their welfare. In the likely event that it is impossible to communicate by telephone or use motor vehicles, Embassy consular assistance teams may be deployed to major evacuation sites, international schools, hotels etc. to collect information from and about American citizens.
The Embassy will help provide information about the situation and communicate with Romanian government officials, if necessary, in order to obtain proper food, shelter and medical attention. However, a significant earthquake will likely overwhelm the Romanian government’s resources and individuals should be prepared to provide for their own emergency needs.
We will pass as much information as possible about the welfare of individual U.S. citizens back to the Department of State in Washington, D.C. so that this information may be shared with families, friends and employers.
The Role of the Romanian Government
The Romanian Civil Protection Command is part of the Romanian Defense System and is responsible for protecting the population, assets, national heritage and geographical environment in case of a natural disaster. The command’s activities include disaster intervention, search & rescue, warning and notification, sheltering, evacuation, etc. A central committee for evacuations is set up under authority of the Government if evacuation is required. In the event of a disaster, the location of the centers is determined depending on the area affected and the type of disaster that occurred. The Civil Protection Command coordinates with the local authorities in order to notify the population regarding evacuation or taking shelter.
Evacuations will likely occur after an earthquake. City authorities will issue evacuation advice. Americans, as well as others affected by the disaster, may seek assistance from the Romanian authorities, but you should be prepared to take care of your own emergency needs for the first several days of any disaster.
Earthquake Preparedness/Survival Information
FEMA produces a comprehensive Disaster Preparedness Guide called Are You Ready?, which can be easily downloaded by section or in its entirety. This indepth guide provides a step-by-step approach to citizen preparedness by walking the reader through how to learn more about local emergency plans, how to identify hazards that affect their local area, and how to develop and maintain an emergency communications plan and disaster supplies kit. Other topics covered include evacuation, emergency public shelters, animals in disaster, and information specific to people with disabilities. However, it is designed primarily for residents of the United States, and not all of the information will be relevant to disaster preparedness in Romania. Regardless, it can be a useful resource and a good starting place when preparing for a disaster.
Additional resources are also available online. Please visit the following websites for additional information about preparing for a disaster:
- United States Geological Survey
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- American Red Cross
Emergency Supply Kit
Essential Supplies (Store enough for three-five days)
- Water (four liters or one gallon per person per day. Change water every three to five months)
- Food (canned or pre-cooked, requiring no heat or water. Consider special dietary needs for infants, the elderly, pets, etc.). Can opener.
- Flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs
- Radio (battery operated with spare batteries)
- Large plastic trash bags (for trash, waste, water protection, ground cloth, temporary blanket)
- Hand soap and/or disinfecting hand cleaner gel that does not require water
- Feminine hygiene supplies, infant supplies, toilet paper
- Essential medications as required; glasses if you normally wear contacts
- Paper plates, cups, plastic utensils, cooking foil and plastic wrap and paper towels
- First Aid kit with instructions
- Lei, euros, and/or dollars in small bills (ATMs may not work after a disaster), with coins and phone cards for public phones. Credit cards.
- Sturdy, closed-toed shoes and work gloves
Place emergency supplies in a sturdy tub where you can quickly and easily access your kit.
Essential Home Preparations Before a Disaster
- Secure water heaters, refrigerators and tall and heavy furniture to the walls to prevent falling.
- Move heavy items to lower shelves, and install latches or other locking devices on cabinets.
- Install flexible connections on gas appliances.
- Remove or isolate flammable materials.
- Move beds and children's play areas away from heavy objects which may fall in an earthquake.
- Register at Embassy or Consulate serving your area. You can do so online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/ or contact the U.S. Embassy to register.
Essential Planning Before a Disaster
- Draw a floor plan of your home showing the location of exit windows and doors, utility cut off points, emergency supplies, food, tools, etc. Share it with housekeeper, babysitters, neighbors, and guests.
- Establish family meeting points with alternate sites inside and outside of your home for all members to gather in the event of an evacuation.
- Establish reunion sites with alternate sites for when the family is not at home, e.g., local shelter, neighbor's house, park, school.
- Designate a person outside of your immediate area for separated family members to call to report their location and condition if separated.
- Learn or establish disaster policy/planning at your children's school.
- Know your neighbors and make them aware of the number of people and pets living in your home.
- Learn where the nearest designated shelter for your neighborhood is.
- Photocopy passports and other important documents. Store copies away from home (for example, at work). Scan important information and keep a thumb drive with critical documents in a safe, easy-to-access place or save it in email that you can access from anywhere.
- Learn how to contact the police, fire and rescue services in Romanian. Be able to provide your address in Romanian.
Essential Steps Immediately After a Disaster
- Check your immediate surroundings for fire, gas leaks, broken glass, and other hazards.
- Check your home for significant damage. Do not remain in your home if you believe there has been structural damage.
- Open doors and/or windows to avoid being locked in if there are after-shocks.
- Contact one friend or relative in the U.S., and ask them to inform other parties of your situation.
- Monitor local TV and radio for evacuation information. Contact your American Citizen Warden or the Embassy, if possible.