My book has a paragraph giving advice on what we should do during an earthquake:

If you live in an earthquake zone, you should take some time to look around your house ... Check the mirrors in your bathroom and bedroom. Make sure they can't move. Don't put your bed next to a window.

Planning where you are going to be during an earthquake is very important... Then you should sit under a strong table or doorway, or stand in the corner of a room.

After reading the passage, my book requires me to complete the table. One row of the table has this:

Flying glass:

  • Check the mirrors
  • Don't put your bed near a window

I don't understand the two bold words above:

  1. What are the differences between door and doorway? Why should we sit under a doorway during an earthquake?
  2. What does flying glass really mean? Does it mean glass can fly?
  • Offtopic: you might want to consider the Triangle of Life theory posited by Doug Copp. Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 7:27
  • @JamesJiao Interesting. I hadn't heard of that. I've just finished reading the Wikipedia page, which includes a criticism section. It might be worth reading.
    – user230
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 8:05
  • 2
    I'm finding the advice "don't put your bed in bathroom and bedroom" definitely strange. Both points.
    – SF.
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 14:01
  • @SF. Thanks for your finding. Definitely, it should be 'don't put your bed next a window'. I've already made correction to my post.
    – doquan0
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 16:03
  • 1
    "...Then you should sit under a strong table or doorway, or stand in a corner." ... wisdom of this advice aside, the sentence is poorly written. One sits under a table, or in a doorway. The sentence should be rewritten: "...Then you should sit under a strong table or in a doorway, or stand in a corner."
    – Adam
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 20:00

3 Answers 3


The book has "flying glass" in bold because it is a heading, and the following checklist pertains to it. In an earthquake, windows and mirrors can shatter, and the force could cause the broken glass to fall at an angle, not just downwards; this is why it is referred to as flying glass.

Anything that is projected into the air could have the verb "to fly" associated with it. For example,

"As I walked through the park, I saw children having a snow fight. Soon afterward, there were snowballs flying all around me as I rushed to get past."

A door is the wood panel with a knob or handle that you open to enter and exit a room. A doorway is the framed opening that the door is mounted to.

As to why a doorway is a safe place during an earthquake (or even if it is), I found conflicting results when I searched for an answer. This article suggests that crawling under a table is more safe:

DO NOT stand in a doorway. You are safer under a table. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. The doorway does not protect you from the most likely source of injury−falling or flying objects. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by falling or flying objects (e.g., TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases), or by being knocked to the ground.

As discussed in the comments below, the safest place for an earthquake depends on several factors, so please do the necessary research for your area.

  • 2
    I think the doorway being stronger is more applicable to the commercial grade steel doorways found in businesses and public buildings. I also wouldn't recommend crawling under a table. It will probably break if the ceiling falls on it. Some experts advise getting next to something sturdy so that if the ceiling collapses it will likely end up at an angle and not smashing the person next to it.
    – ctype.h
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 3:29
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    Definitely, it depends on the area of the world, the type of building, and probably other factors too; I highly recommend doing the research for your own area. Thankfully, I am in an earthquake-free area, so I can only rely on research. :-) Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 3:33
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    Of course. There are different types of earthquakes, which cause buildings to vibrate in different directions, so a place that would be relatively safe in one type of earthquake may be very dangerous in another. And since the type of earthquake depends on the geographic location, I agree that it would be wise to find out what type of earthquake is most likely to occur in your area and research earthquake safety for that particular type of earthquake. Additionally, building materials and codes differ in different countries, so there is that to consider too.
    – ctype.h
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 3:48

The doorway is the where the door is when it is closed, including the door frame; in some contexts it includes the door, but not in this context. The door is the thing that swings open and closed. The reason for sitting in a doorway during an earthquake is that things may be less likely to fall on top of you, but some experts advise against sitting under a doorway in an earthquake, especially if there is a door, as it may swing back and forth violently.

Flying glass refers to fragments of broken glass flying out into the room as a result of windows and mirrors breaking and the building shaking violently. Such fragments can cause serious injury.


Can glass fly? I had a friend who was an aeronautical engineer; he once told me, "anything can fly, if you give it enough thrust."

However, in this context, fly doesn't mean soar like a bird, or fly like an airplane. In this context, we're using Definition #3 from Macmillan:

fly (v.) [intransitive] to move very fast through the air : A bullet flew past his head. Pieces of glass and concrete were flying in all directions.

Remember the wisdom and humor of Groucho Marx, who loved to leverage words with multiple meanings, such as like and fly:

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

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