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I’m going on vacation to Punta Cana, should I be worried about Earthquakes?

a palm tree on a beach near a body of water

With all of the seismic activity in the south of Puerto Rico since late December, a lot of people have been asking about the possibility of an earthquake in Punta Cana. In reality, in most parts of the world, earthquakes happen every single day and you don’t even feel it!

There are a lot of factors to consider such as depth, magnitude and location which determine whether an earthquake is a risk to us. To find out the possibility of a tremor interrupting your tropical getaway, let’s take a little look at the geology of the island and its earthquake history so far:

The Dominican Republic is in a unique position, as it sits between the North American plate from the north, the South American plate from the south and the Caribbean plate in the middle. Thanks to this the island has the most diverse geology in the whole of the Caribbean. The highest peak Pico Duarte at 3,098 meters, and Lake Enriquillo with its water level almost 40 meters below sea level. As these tectonic plates push and pull and rub against each other, pressure builds and then is released in the form of an earthquake. This release of pressure can happen anywhere there is a ‘fault’ line in the plates.

As the Caribbean region has many of these fault lines, this pressure release does happen, and quite often, but as there are many points of exit for this pressure, then generally there is no opportunity for it to build to such a degree that the earthquakes are destructive to life and property.

Of course under the right circumstances, earthquakes in the region can have devastating effects such as the one in neighboring Haiti in 2010, which caused a lot of damage and loss of life. However, millions of people live happily on the islands without worry, so how can this be?

With education and advances in building technology, countries in active earthquake regions are able to reduce the damaging effects of a major earthquake. With action plans in place, the risk to us can be lowered. Most hotels and local residences in Punta Cana are built to structurally withstand a surprisingly high level of shaking, and while it can be alarming to feel the earth shake below us, the buildings around us hold very well. The truth is, it is almost impossible for experts to predict when an earthquake will happen, therefore having basic knowledge of how to act is really helpful in keeping you and your family safe:

If You Are Indoors During an Earthquake:

  • Get down and take cover under a table or desk and stay there until the shaking stops
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to leave
  • Stay away from any furniture that could fall on you
  • Stay away from windows and light fittings
  • If you are in bed, cover your head with a pillow and stay there until the shaking stops

If You Are Outdoors During an Earthquake:

  • Drop to the ground in an open spot away from trees or power lines
  • If you are driving, stop the car and set your parking brake, try to avoid being close to anything that may fall on your car

After the Earthquake:

  • Be prepared for aftershocks, and if it is safe to do so, move to a safer area
  • Listen out for tsunami warnings. Be safe and always assume a tsunami is on the way until you are told otherwise, and stay away from the beach and head for higher ground.
  • Listen to the advice of hotel staff, who will be receiving government direction on the status of the earthquake and if evacuation is required
  • Stay calm!

With these safety tips in mind, you can calmly enjoy your Punta Cana vacation knowing that should a major earthquake happen, you have all the knowledge you need to keep you as safe as possible. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a coco loco in our beautiful paradise!