Many years ago now (2001), when I lived in Seattle, we had a 6.8 temblor which was quite disconcerting as it was the first time my wife and I had experienced one. We each scooped up one/two kids (not sure who did two) and went to the bathroom doorway. It seemed like a long time that it shook but it really was only 45 seconds but it did seem longer. I don't want to experience another one. There is quite a feeling of helplessness.
I have been through 2 of them. The Bay Area one in 1989 ( a parking hot I was looking at when it hit looked like ocean waves with cars bouncing up and down)
I stayed where I was for 3 days ( I was medical staff) at a Hospital. Many injuries, glass and blunt trauma as well as auto due IMO to panic driving
During the Seattle quake I was in a meeting in a very tall building. It felt like a flagpole inside. Glass was broken ( a lot a some injuries mostly from debris ) everyone looked to me to be in charge and while trained, people in panic are out of control to the point of violence. I had everyone go by the elevator banks the soundest area and farthest from glass. Some just fled down stairs. The roads in ten minutes were grid lock for EMS as well. People were on there own and leaving cars, running. In a igh building I could see it unfold.
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I am sure you all know this, but you do not want to be IN a building when it hits. I tell my students, "ok we are doing this drill but if a real one happens you better not get under a desk unless you want to be scrapped up with a snow shovel later" The ideal situation is outside and away from any building that can fall.
I don't seem to be particularly sensitive to the little waves we get here. Course, I go sit on the bridge over the train tracks on purpose... But anyway. I find them annoying because they really upset the dogs, which puts me on edge trying to figure out why they are acting confused. Even though I don't remember any shaking, I do remember feeling helpless, like there was an invisible force "out there" but I didn't know what it was. Next morning I heard about the earthquake at 2am. The dogs had been acting funny from 1am till 3am - suddenly made perfect sense.
Back in high school, there was one that I slept through but my sister woke up. It was mild. She said what actually woke her up was the windows rattling, rather than the shaking. Guess my room had quieter windows. I felt like I had missed out since she felt it and I didn't, but oh well.