The Triangle of Life is a controversial theory about how to survive a major earthquake, typically promoted via viral emails.
The theory advocated methods of protection very different from the mainstream advice of “drop, cover, and hold on” method widely supported by reputable agencies. In particular, the method’s developer and key proponent, Doug Copp, recommends that at the onset of a major earthquake, building occupants should seek shelter near solid items that will provide a protective space, a void or space that could prevent injury or permit survival in the event of a major structural failure, a “pancake collapse”, and specifiably advises against sheltering under tables.
Officials of many agencies have found themselves forced to respond to these viral emails spreading the “Triangle of Life” method.
EXTRACT FROM DOUG COPP'S ARTICLE ON THE "TRIANGLE OF LIFE", Edited by Larry Linn for MAA Safety Committee brief on 4/13/04.
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 (UNX051 -UNIENET) for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.
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.
The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under their 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.
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. They are everywhere. I trained the Fire Department of Trujillo (population 750,000) in how to survive, take care of their families, and to rescue others in earthquakes.
The chief of rescue in the Trujillo Fire Department is a professor at Trujillo University. He accompanied me everywhere. He gave personal testimony: "My name is Roberto Rosales. I am Chief of Rescue in Trujillo. When I was 11 years old, I was trapped inside of a collapsed building. My entrapment occurred during the earthquake of 1972 that killed 70,000 people. I survived in the "triangle of life" that existed next to my brother's motorcycle. My friends who got under the bed and under desks were crushed to death [he gives more details, names, addresses etc.]...I am the living example of the "triangle of life". My dead friends are the example of "duck and cover".
TIPS DOUG COPP PROVIDES: Read the rest of this entry »