By Rohini Mohan
We are mighty cheery people, going about our daily business, living as we do in a highly seismic area in close proximity to several of the major faults – San Andreas, Hayward, Rodgers Creek, San Gregorio, Calaveras, Concord and Green Valley. With the area ripe for another big one, are we planning to cross the bridge when we come to it? Or are we prepared and waiting with a bring it on attitude? What does earthquake preparedness really mean? WNI did some quick research on the do’s and don’ts.
It is important that all individuals in the household are aware of the fact that this is a disaster waiting to happen and treat it seriously. First Aid and CPR are useful techniques to know. You can always equip yourself by taking a course with the Red Cross and in some places the local fire department. Keep an emergency handbook in a place where people can find it. Better still make a short checklist and put it up in an accessible spot- frig or notice board. Inform your kids and seniors in the house about the high risk areas they needs to stay away from – mirrors, heavy objects etc. Identify an area in each room where they can safely take shelter.
Rule # 1: During the quake: Duck and Cover:
If indoors, duck under a sturdy piece of furniture. Hold on to it and move as it does. If there is nothing handy around, move against an interior wall and hold on tight – just make sure there is nothing heavy overhead and cover your head with your arms. If you’re outdoors stay away from anything that can fall on your head and if you’re driving stop and stay in the vehicle till the quake is over.
Rule # 2 : After the Quake:
Be ready for a possible aftershock. Administer first aid where necessary. Watch out for fire. Try on the internet, radio or TV for bulletins. Within a couple of minutes of a quake you can see it’s location and magnitude online. Evacuate the building only when you’re absolutely sure that it’s safe. Never take the elevator. Tips for what to do after an earthquake can be found here.
It is useful to have handy, contacts of friends or relatives outside the area who can easily be reached to take you in once it’s all over. It’s also important to keep an emergency kit for each member of the family which includes food, cash, first aid and lots of water. You can either build your own kit or purchase it.
There are many handy sites which you can research that will give you more information on protecting yourself .
Ensure that your building is reasonably safe and if you identify weak areas set about getting them corrected before it’s too late. Keep a copy of your will, bank account information and credit card information with friends or relatives out of town. Earthquake insurance is expensive but useful. Here is some detailed information on your options.
You can never be too careful – to quote the CEA (California Earthquake Authority) Slogan; Everyday is Earthquake Season in California.
Useful piece, WNI. I remember the local fuzz conducted a series of crash (oops!) courses for block reps on earthquake survival.