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The safest behaviors are likely to depend on the quality of construction and collapse potential of individual building types and will be different for densely populated urban areas than for rural areas. If one is in a building with good antiseismic construction that is not likely to suffer total collapse, probably the best approach is to crawl under a desk and cover one's nose and mouth with a piece of cloth to protect the respiratory system against excessive dust. On the other hand, if one is in a building that is highly prone to total collapse (because of poor design, poor building materials or poor construction practices), the only hope may be to run outside quickly.
Deaths and injuries caused by stampedes in public facilities such as schools underline the need for earthquake drills. People should therefore be encouraged to practice those actions that they would take during an earthquake. Earthquake preparedness programs and educational materials ranging from regular reminders or "earthquake tips" disseminated through the media to earthquake drills for occupants of specific institutions, such as hospitals and schools, should prove useful (Table 8--4).