Portugal´s only registered non-profit crime prevention association providing dedicated information and support services to the community

7 November 2019


Safe Communities have been asked by the National  Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC) to participate in and disseminate news concerning the A TERRA TREME, an earthquake risk awareness exercise, which will take place at 11.15 hrs on Friday 15th November 2019, throughout the country. 

This is a national exercise which involves the community, for the purpose of creating awareness of the earthquake risk here in Portugal and importantly simple measures people can take, in case an earthquake strikes, which may save lives. Last year around 700,000 people participated.

Several regions of Portugal are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, greater Lisbon and the Algarve, for example.

We therefore encourage everyone, and we mean everyone, to participate in some way. It only takes one minute starting on 15th November at 11.15 hrs precisely. Whether you are at school, at work or at home with your family, this is something that affects you.

Why is it necessary?

A catastrophe of astronomic proportions walloped Lisbon on 1st November 1755. A combination of earthquake, tsunami, and firestorm devastated the devoutly religious city on All Saint's Day, turning churches into death traps and transforming the streets of the capital into a hellish landscape. 

Experience the catastrophe first hand as we  invite you to watch this video forwarded to us by the ANEPC.

Safe Communities has also made its own video in English which can be downloaded from the A Terra Treme website here

It is important that each of us is involved in promotion and assumes the cause of strengthening the culture of protection and security. As we have witnessed for the seismic event that has occurred in Mexico recently, no nation or society is free from this danger, which is why our mobilisation around this cause of protection and safety can and should begin with the 3 simple gestures.  DROP, COVER, HOLD ON

A major earthquake could happen again, so being aware by participation in this exercise could save your life, those of your family and friends should a it occur.

A dedicated website has been set up by the ANEPC concerning this exercise which is in Portuguese:  www.aterratreme.pt where all the details can be found. For English readers we have translated the main parts of the site into English in this newsletter. We will also be promoting this through our Facebook page www.facebook.com/scalgarve and our websites.

David Thomas
Safe Communities Portugal

FOR 2019

For this years event the ANEPC  a re aiming to involve as many partners possible - public, private and non-government - in this collective goal by uniting efforts and extract synergies  in order to increase individual and collective resilience in our communities.

Some of the actions we are suggesting for this year initiative are:
  • The registration of participation on the ANEPC's dedicated website: http://www.aterratreme.pt/inscreva-se/ (whether is an individual or collective participation it is key people register on our website for the ANPC to be able to understand the degree of involvement);
  • Answer a questionnaire designed for adults and children to determine individuals perception of seismic risk among responders, sponsored  by Instituto Superior Técnico;
  • Promote awareness sessions in households and companies dedicated to learn self-protection behaviours and other preparedness measures against earthquakes and tsunamis;
Sending mass mail to workers with information about preparedness for earthquakes.


The national exercise is on 15th November 2019 to coincide with International Tsunami Awareness Day.

We can be anywhere when an earthquake begins: at home, at school, at work, or even on vacation. We ask the question: are we prepared to face an earthquake and recover from it quickly?

This initiative is promoted by the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority and seeks the active involvement of all citizens. It lasts only 1 minute, during which participants are invited to perform the 3 saving measures: DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.

Everyone can and should participate: individually or in groups, wherever they are. 

Many areas of the globe are prone to earthquakes and Portugal is a territory with areas particularly sensitive to this risk. We can be anywhere when an earthquake begins, but will we be prepared to face such a situation and recover from it quickly?

Get to know or remember the procedures you should take before, during and after an earthquake, and organize yourself, in your home and family in 7 essential steps.
Share this initiative with your family, friends and co-workers. 



The Countdown to  15th November

5 - REGISTER -  Register on the website, expressing your interest in this campaign. Please state the number of participants and contacts for possible further information.

4 - PLAN - Define the scope that you want to give to the exercise, which can go from the simplest level with the practice of the DROP, COVER, HOLD ON,  to holding a more complete exercise and that even test the Emergency Plan (in your organisation for example) involving diverse entities.

3 - PROMOTE - Involve all the people in your family and organisation and share information about TERRA TREME through your contact list, encouraging them to participate.

2 - CONSULT - Share the materials available on the site, reinforcing the individual and collective preparation for an earthquake situation. Resources can be downloaded here.

1 - EXERCISE - On 15th November at 11.15 hrs, perform the 3 saving measures: DROP, COVER, HOLD ON


Reading this you may feel that this unlikely to happen, so why bother? But how many of you have earthquake insurance for your home or business? If so is is therefore for a reason and that is that Portugal is one of the higher risk countries; SO BE PREPARED
  • Inquire about the possible causes and effects of an earthquake in your area. Talk about it  with your family and friends.
  • Make an emergency plan for your family.
  • Make sure everyone knows what to do in the event of an earthquake.
  • Decide a meeting place in advance, in case the family members separate during the earthquake.
  • Prepare your home in order to facilitate the movements, clearing corridors and passageways, arranging furniture and toys.
  • An emergency kit
    • Organise your emergency kit: just basic things such as a flashlight, portable radio and spare batteries for both as well as a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.
    • Store water in plastic containers and canned foods (with a can opener) for two or three days (be careful: check expiration dates periodically).
    • Have the emergency services telephone numbers at a handy location, the family / friends contact list, and copies of important documents;
    • Take your usual medication and personal hygiene products (including toilet paper, wet wipes and plastic bags for sanitary purposes), also include a change of clothes (do not forget a cap and waterproof);
    • Include also: money, a whistle, an anti-dust mask, and the mobile phone charger with an extra battery (common power-bank);
    • Extra food and water for the pet;
  • Identify the safest places to shelter that your family know, such as interior doorways, corners of main walls, under tables and beds.
  • Keep a safe distance from objects that may fall or splinter.
  • Know the most dangerous places: next to windows, mirrors, lamps, furniture and other objects as well as elevators and exits to the street.
  • Secure shelves, vases, and flower pots etc to the walls of your home.
  • Place heavy or large objects on the floor or on the lowest shelves.
  • Teach all family members how to turn off electricity and cut off water and gas.
  • Ensure emergency telephone numbers are available in a handy location.


This is a procedure adopted and practiced in a number of countries which are at higher risks of earthquakes. In the event of an earthquake:

DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.

COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand
  • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter
  • If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows)
  • Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs
HOLD ON until shaking stops
  • Under shelter: hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts
  • No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands


Instinctively if you are in a building and an earthquake occurs you may try to go outside during shaking! 

However, the area near the exterior walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to break away. Also many injuries occur trying to run through a shaking building through slipping and falling debris.

If seated and unable to drop to the floor: bend forward, Cover your head with your arms, and Hold On to your neck with both hands.

If you are indoors in a building
  • If you are on one of the upper floors of a building, do not rush to the stairs.
  • Never use elevators.
  • Take shelter in the interior doorway, in the corners of the rooms, or under a table or bed.
  • Keep away from windows and mirrors.
  • Be careful of falling lights, furniture, or other objects.

If you are on the street
  • Head to an open location calmly, away from the sea or waterways.
  • Do not run or wander the streets.
  • Keep away from buildings (especially the most degraded, high or isolated) from electricity poles and other objects that may fall on you.
  • Get away from slopes, walls, chimneys and balconies that may collapse.
  • If you are in a place with a large concentration of people
  • Stay inside the building until the quake ceases. Leave afterwards calmly, taking care of the walls, chimneys, electric wires, lamps and other objects that may fall.
  • Do not rush to the exits. Stairs and doors are points that easily fill with debris and can be obstructed by people trying to leave the building
  • In factories keep away from machines that can tip or slip.

If you are driving
  • Stop the car away from buildings, walls, embankments, poles and high voltage cables and stay inside it.


Within our overall role of creating awareness of natural disasters that could affect Portugal, we have included earthquakes and Tsunamis. The risk in Portugal is high compared to many other countries and therefore we all need  to be prepared.

Each day many minor tremors take place mainly off shore to the south and west of Portugal, but these are not usually noticeable.

As we know a major earthquake and, if centred in the ocean, a tsunami, could result  in a major loss of life and injuries.

Our dedicated web page has information on how to be prepared for an earthquake/tsunami and importantly what action to take should this occur in order to help protect you. your family and friends.

We have also included this subject in some of our seminars especially in the Algarve as some areas are of greater risk in the event of a Tsunami.

In the event of an earthquake, depending on the state of communications and other factors, we would liaise with and support government efforts to keep the population and visitors aware of the situation in the country.

How you can help - Donation for crime prevention in Portugal

Each week Safe Communities Portugal provides advice and assistance to those who have contacted the association. No charge is made for this service. If you have benefited from this then why not make a small donation in return. 


Safe Communities Portugal is a non-profit association run by unpaid volunteers. Our services are free of charge and the association is funded by donations. Your generosity by making a donation to help maintain and further develop the work of the association and thereby help keep portugal a safe place to live and visit would be appreciated. Any amount helps.  

Three ways to make a donation


Paypal - If you would like to make a donation through Paypal please visit our Welcome page and click on the "donate" button. 

By cheque - If you wish to donate by cheque the bank account name is "Associacao SCP Safe Communities Portugal" and cheques can be posted to Caixa 207-Z, Alfontes, Boliqueime, 8100-062, Algarve.

By interbank transfer - If you wish to donate through inter bank transfer please use the same name with the following account details NIB 0033 0000 4542 9864 44705. 

All donations should be marked "Donation for crime prevention". Thank you.

How your friends can obtain up to date Civil Protection and Crime Prevention advice
Please pass on details of Safe Communities Portugal to neighbours and friends so they to can benefit from the up to date civil protection and crime prevention advice. Simply ask them to click on the following link to obtain the latest newsletter: www.safecommunitiesportugal.com This is a free service.



David Thomas

Safe Communities Portugal



6th  November 2019