Simply stated, earthquakes are the sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust, usually as a result of friction and shifting between tectonic plates.
Earthquakes are measured by the Richter scale, which, insofar as our research
monkeys interns can gather, has little or nothing to do with Andy Richter. This scale measures the amount of seismic energy exerted by an earthquake. In the event of an earthquake deemed strong enough to merit attention on the evening news (read: all of them), you'll be bombarded with hours and hours of footage of the Richter scale in action, leading some anchors to become visibly jealous of all the precious screen time it's getting.
Coming this fall: Tales from the Richter Scale, starring Tyne Daly
If you're lucky enough to live in a country with fancy things like infrastructure and building codes, earthquakes up to about 6.5 aren't likely to cause much damage. However, in nations and areas that Fox News might describe as "ethnically unstable", even mild tremors may cause serious damage.
Kind of a metaphor, but not really.
Normally, this would need to be a very detailed section, outlining the importance of keeping a cache of food and supplies on hand. However, it is widely known that earthquake preparedness is remarkably similar to preparing for a zombie invasion; if you are a regular reader of Cracked, chances are very high that you've been preparing for such an event since middle school.
One difference is that earthquake preparedness does not require you to be a badass
*One caveat - in the event of an earthquake, you may find that many of your neighbors, co-workers and loved ones may be tragically bloodied, and will stumble about in a daze before receiving medical attention. Please resist your years of backyard training and refrain from beheading them.
Hey, no worries, buddy, what's a little aggravated assault/partial decapitation among friends?
Congratulations! You are about to experience one of the most pants-shittingly terrifying moments that life has to offer. It's moments like these that remind you what's important - if the only thought that provides comfort when the ground beneath you begins to tremble and hop like a Buick Skylark in neutral is of your cat, well, then, you know what to do if you survive.
Clarity isn't always pretty, kids.
In years past, it was believed that the best way to survive an earthquake was to "drop, cover and hold on (in a non-sexual way)". However, a new controversial theory states that this practice is effective only if one wishes to be crushed to the thickness of their bones in the event of structural failure.
Instead, rescue worker/urban legend Doug Copp has been advocating a new controversial theory via spam email, like a modern day nut bag Johnny Appleseed. This theory invokes the power of the Triangle of Life, which instructs its devoted followers to seek refuge next to, but never under, solid objects. The operative idea is that while falling structures may crush things like desks, tables and cars, there is a void next to these objects that offer safety.
Oh, thank god this file cabinet was here to protect us from the death Twizzlers
While intriguing, this theory doesn't take into account the sticky fact that in most industrialized nations, the biggest earthquake-related threat to your safety isn't structural failure, but from things like shattered glass, or your extensive collection of action figures tumbling from the shelves and knocking you stupid. The Triangle of Life has been bedeviled by criticism from government agencies, as well as emergency workers with actual verifiable credentials. Still, from time to time you may receive an email forward advocating the Triangle theory from one or several of your crackpot relatives.