Live | Love | Laugh

Earthquake survival: ‘TRIANGLE OF LIFE’


I originally got this from a friend via e-mail (thanks Sheldene).  I did some research, and here is what I found.

Theory (in brief)

When buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside tends to crush them, however,  the height of the object that remains acts as a kind of sloping roof beam over the space. This space for survival, Copp terms the “triangle of life”. The larger and stronger the object, the less it will compact; the less it compacts, the larger the void next to it will be. Such triangles are the most common shape to be found in a collapsed building.

Criticisms of theory

Critics have argued that it is actually very difficult to know where these triangles will be formed, as objects (including large, heavy objects) often move around during earthquakes. It is also argued that this movement means that that lying beside heavy objects is very dangerous.


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world’s most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries.

I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn’t at the time know
that the children were told to hide under something. I am amazed that even today schools are still using the ?Duck and Cover? instructions- telling the children to squat under their desks with their heads bowed and covered with their hands. This was the technique used in the Mexico City school.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life’. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the
object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the ‘triangles’ you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.


1) Almost everyone who simply ‘ducks and covers’ when buildings collapse ARE CRUSHED TO DEATH. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an  earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. That position helps you survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less
squashed bodies than concrete slabs. Concrete slab buildings are the most dangerous during an earthquake.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Almost everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different ‘moment of frequency (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads ? horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest
of the building is not damaged.

8 ) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible – It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and lying in the
fetal position next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul , University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did ‘duck and cover,’ and ten mannequins I used in my ‘triangle of life’ survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results.

The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the ‘triangle of life.’ This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe , and it was seen in the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

Author: Kaynijo

Read more here: www.kaynijo.com Kaynijo.com - Live | Love | Laugh

8 thoughts on “Earthquake survival: ‘TRIANGLE OF LIFE’

  1. Great info on Earthquake survival. Would love to see that documentary that aired on REAL TV.
    Very Timely indeed. I have never heard of this theory in my life… I certainly would be caught doing “duck & cover”. Thanks fro this info.

    I especially like the info about stacked up paper.. WOW!

  2. The Deputy director of ODPEM was on a talk show and he said that this triangle of life technique should not be followed, and persons should not precribe to it. The old methods of a desk and door frame still apply. I’m iCnlined to agree with him.

  3. Do not follow this discredited method. Follow the standard method proscribed by all rescue agencies: “DUCK, COVER AND HOLD”

  4. I dont know what kind of quakes you have in US but here in Greece we have an earthquake story of casualties thousands of years long.
    Everyone in Greece knows that the MOST DANGEROUS points to stand at during a quake are under doors, windows, scales, near elevator well-holes, etc. Also covering under tables and desks protects you ONLY against flying objects and ceiling falling debris, not the falling ceiling itself.

    The best thing to do while sleeping is to just roll from bed to the floor and stay recumbent close firmly to the bed. If you are awake you have not to use elevators, not to use scales, not to run anywhere at all. Stay aside from wall openings, and cover close to heavy objects, not underneath them.

    The best preparation of all in advance is to look around in your house, or in your work place, and spot the points where you can cover next to them not under them. Screw-tie tall furniture to the wall behind and during an earthquake do not take cover near them. Near shelves and drawers are also dangerous places. For example a tall refrigerator is a dangerous place to stand-by, but a short refrigerator or a short laundromat (house washing-machine) are very good places to cover close to them.
    Last but not least, have a whistle always with you.

  5. The guy’s a fraud. He misrepresented himself in regards to the UN, misrepresents himself as having an engineering degree, which he does not, and his ‘rescue crew’ after 9/11 were actually a *film crew*. Can you sink lower than that? None of his ‘rescues’ can be substantiated.

    There is a good rebuttal to his email here: http://www.earthquakecountry.info/dropcoverholdon/Petal_on_Copp.pdf

  6. in case we get another surprise..

  7. Pingback: The Triangle of Life and Foods for Emergencies « MyQute Health & Personal Views

  8. Duck and cover next to paper stacks, that’s what I’m getting from this!

    Any “triangle” thing has to be good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s