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children and earthquakes

Are you going to relocate with your children in a seismic zone? This article is for you.

When we talk about earthquakes, we usually focus on adults’ reactions. However, our children also have their personal perception of these natural phenomena, that sometimes can be very scary. And if fear is a constant element in their stories, a certain dose of humor is not missing, too… something we adults should reflect on! Enjoy this article on children and earthquakes.


Léa, 11 years (she lived in Tokyo when she was 5 to 10)

When I was 6 years old, I experienced my first earthquake. It was a beautiful Saturday and I was having lunch. I was eating my soya sauce rice when the flat started dancing from right to left. Since I was little, I felt like being on a carousel, and I had a lot of fun.
Mum told us to go under the table, I thought it would be funnier under the chairs, but did not discuss. When I finished thinking, the earthquake had finished, too. Actually, it had just lasted a few seconds!
Later on I was more scared because the building shook a lot, and I was afraid it would fall. Once, it was in the early morning, I was with my grandparents, and we had to sit on the floor since it was shaking so much.

Elvira, 9 years old (she lived in Tokyo when she was 3 to 8) and Mathilde, 9 (she lived in Tokyo when she was 6 to 9) were in the same class at the LFJT (Tokyo French Japanese School). They tell their story together

We went through extraordinary things in Japan, in the city of Tokyo. We also went through earthquakes when we were at school, at the French Japanese School. All year long we made simulations. We all gathered in the yard or in the Budokan Park. When there was an earthquake at school they put us under the tables. This scared us a bit.

Mathilde: Once I was standing up from my chair, when it started shaking a lot. Everything moved. We were afraid the building would fall.

Elvira: I lived on the tenth floor and I was afraid the building would fall. There were lots of noises: cupboards, doors, ornaments…

Mattia, 11 years, lives in Peru. He went through the recent big earthquake of 15th August 2007

children and earthquakes

Photo by Luca Bonacini

In the exact moment when the long and terrifying earthquake began, I was quietly doing my English homeworks, drawing my character. At that moment I felt a light trembling and I thought “no, it’s not an earthquake”, but it actually was. Instead of stopping, it grew stronger and stronger, I ran to the closest door. I watched the face of Alessandro, my older brother, and at that moment the earthquake stopped a little bit. Then he screamed: “come here, quick!”. I rushed under the kitchen door and with Rosa, my maid, we were telling jokes to calm ourselves.

And then the real earthquake started. The windows made a very strong and unbearable noise, the table was moving, things fell down and the light trembled. Rosa told me “Oh Mattia, I am so scared!”. At that moment I saw my dog passing quietly between us, yawning, and this helped me to calm down. What really threw me in a state of panic is that Rosa thought that another earthquake would arrive after this, and she told me: “Mattia, no, I don’t want to die, no!!”. I was still very scared, but at the same time I liked feeling the earth moving.

I don’t know why, but I felt more scared after the earthquake, I wanted to go away, to flee to another place, but I had nowhere to go. What I didn’t like was that my parents were not there, and we could not communicate with them. I thought: “15th August 2007, a day I won’t forget”. After a while Claudia and Giorgio, my parents, arrived, and they explained to us the risks of another earthquake and of the earthquake replicas, what we had to do, and they also told us that the epicenter was in Ica and Chincha, they told us about the victims, etc.


Cecilexpat and Claudiaexpat
November 2007
Translated from Italian by Claudiaexpat


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