Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Triangle of death

I’ve received several emails about the veracity of the claims made by Mr. Coop.
While some information is goof, take it with a grain of salt and read the following link:


There’s at least three points I’d pay particular attention to.

1)    You’ll die if you hide under a desk. False
It depends on mostly two factors a) the kind of building you are in b) the kind of object or piece of furniture you are using.
For a big old, solid wood desk (or metal) , it will most likely protect you from a wood frame building roof. That’s why its important to notice if there’s a bunch of floors in top of you or not. Cement is heavier and will crush you in most cases.

2) 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!False.

Maybe this is the most questionable part about Mr. Coop’s claims, which shows a lack of understanding of structures.
Again, it depends a lot and luck does have a role. But structurally speaking, you are very much hiding “inside” a wall. This means that the center and the sides of the upper floor or roof will collapse away from it and you have a structure around you. It may or may not be a load bearing wall. But if we’re talking typical stick frame, it’s a good place to be in, specially if compared to other places.

I can see the wisdom in staying in fetal position next to a structure that is tough enough to resist a roof falling over it, at least leaving enough space to give you a chance to survive. But its very bold to say the least to talk in absolute terms in such a chaotic situation such as a building falling all over you.

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different 'moment of
frequency (they swing separately from the main part of the building).

I really don’t understand what he’s trying to say here. You cant make such a claim because buildings are all different and generally speaking, stairs are one of the toughest parts of a building. After all, that’s where people will be going and running down to evacuate the building!
Architects and designers take that into account, its also designed so that, if there’s a fire, people wont suffocate to death. Its probably the most resistant part of the building.
 Of course if a 9.3 quake hits and all goes to hell and everything crumbles you’re dead anyway, but he’s making it sound as if stairs are some sort of death traps when they are not.

I just wanted to point these things out guys.

Take care.



Anonymous said...

He mentioned something about wood buildings being safer because they sway more than solid buildings. I imagine stairs, if they are overbuilt masses of concrete, can't flex as easily, so they break easier. That's how it COULD be more dangerous. I am no expert in anything but I see the logic there.

Anonymous said...

I also remember reading a magazine article years ago (ASG?) from a person who crawls around collapsed buildings looking for earthquake survivors. One of his major discoveries was that hiding underneath the item often killed when it crushed down and trapped the person. But if that person instead lay BESIDE the item, the debris crushing down would not pancake the object completely. The person had a small degree of protection, and could crawl out in many cases.

Concrete works with compression and doesn't flex, that is the reinforcing steel's job, so when concrete is pulled apart, it falls down.

Anonymous said...

Well, dang, I should have read the post below that before I posted, this is likely the same guy I was referring to in post #2. My bad - sorry.

Anonymous said...

His "triangle of life" versus duck and cover makes perfect sense.

At least here in America, let's get real and ask ourselves how many people have heavy duty wood furniture in the house?

I would say that's probably less than 10% especially in big metropolitan cities where most people are using crap chinese and/or Ikea type furnishings.

Laminate particle board with 2-3 screws holding each table leg up. Can you say death trap?

He's right on curling up / laying flat next to an object.

What you're essentially doing is creating a miniature tent but in a worse case it will be a concrete slab or similar ceiling structure instead of a nylon roof.

The stair issue. That's a tough one to call but logic will tell you to try the stairs first.

If you had a choice between jumping out a 20 story window, using the elevator, or using the stairs in most cases you will probably head straight for the stairs first.

The thing is are you taking a normal walking, high-traffic, stairwell that is located in the middle of the building or are you using an emergency stairwell?

Most emergency stairwells can be found on the outside perimeter which in this case agrees also with the logic of staying as close to the outside perimeter of the building if you're still stuck inside the structure.

Mr. Preparing for the currency collapse in CA.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that elevator hoistways very often (always?) have service ladders adjacent to the door openings. If the hoistway is still intact, and the stairs are blocked / damaged, this might be an exit of the building.