Tuesday, July 29, 2008


If you were anywhere near the news today, you know that there was an earthquake in Southern California this morning. Whether or not you live in a seismically challenged area, you should know what to do in the event of an earthquake because you never know if or when this type of thing will happen (ie: there may be no earthquake faults where you live but one could strike when you are on vacation with the family in Disney Land). Here's what to do should the ground start shaking:
  • Realize that earthquakes can happen anywhere but there is a higher probability that they will strike in the Pacific Rim and other fault-laden areas (China, South America, etc).
  • When the shaking starts, it's a crap shoot--you will find sources that tell you to cover or not to cover, to stay inside or go outside, to stand in a doorway or not stand in a doorway--basically there are situations in which each of these would be good advice however the consensus is to drop, cover, and hold until the shaking stops then exit the building as quickly and safely as possible (obviously if you are in a crumbly building like the schools that disintegrated during the China earthquake you may want to run outside as soon as the shaking starts, however people have been killed this way as well when things fall on them).
  • As soon as the shaking stops, get up, dust yourself off, make sure everyone in your immediate location is OK, take any immediate safety precautions (ie: if you were cooking, turn off the burner and move the pan to the back of the stove), and exit the building/house quickly with your BOB in hand. Don't forget to check the area you are heading towards for dangers such as falling bricks, falling trees, falling power lines, broken glass, etc.
  • Once you are outside, if you know there is an immediate problem in your home such as a gas leak, damaged electrical wires, or a water leak, and you are able to shut off these utilities, do so.
  • If you are in an outside area where a major gas line or water main has broken or there are live power lines on the ground, get as far away from these dangers as possible.
  • Immediately after the quake, use your cell phone for quick emergency calls only such as to find your kids or call 911 for a life threatening emergency. As soon as the immediate family is accounted for or 911 has been alerted to an emergency (calling just to say that there was an earthquake will be unnecessary), stay off your phone so the system doesn't become overwhelmed and those who need to make emergency phone calls can do so. Save the phone conversations about details of your experience for after the need to not overload the phone system has passed.
  • Now that you have handled the immediate emergencies, check on your neighbors.
  • If possible, stay near your home and don't drive around to look at the damage. It's a good idea to let any downed power lines be turned off before you drive over them. On the other hand, if you live in a tsunami-prone area, you will want to get to higher ground as soon as possible.
  • If family members are scattered around the city, ensure that they can shelter in place during the time being. If this is not possible, devise a plan to rendezvous. Cover these details in your quick, initial conversation.
  • Break out your battery-powered AM/FM radio so that you can receive official news and information about the event.
  • If you do need to communicate, break out your portable HAM radio. Usually right after a disaster, the phone networks are overwhelmed while the HAM airwaves are wide open.
  • Do a quick check of your home from the outside and note any damage. If your home looks structurally sound from the outside, you may want to take a look around the inside for damage. Note that depending on the type, depth, and intensity of the quake, there may be a series of aftershocks that will send you scurrying back outside.
  • If there is no or minimal damage to your home, you may want to go back in and clean up anything that was broken (of course wear work gloves and heavy shoes when doing this).
  • If there is damage to your home which would make it unsafe to go into and there is wide spread damage, consider setting up camp in your back yard. Be sure to check the location for trees, chimneys, power lines, or other things that could fall on you during an aftershock.
  • Some people may want to head to the nearest hotel if their home is unlivable, however wide-spread damage may also damage hotels and restaurants and require you to 1) bug out to another location if the roads are passable, 2) seek shelter in a community shelter set up for this event, or 3) park yourself near your home. Many people, after a disaster, choose number 3.
  • If you are required to camp outside for the time being, be sure to take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and your family. That could mean a number of things depending on where you live, the local situation, and plans that have been made ahead of time.
Basically there are no "right" answers when a disaster strikes. If you survive, you've made the correct choices. It does pay, however, to seriously plan ahead of time for this and other types of disasters.

1 comment:

  1. My mini van h is set up for such contingencies....My 2 meter radio is also program to not to depend on the repeater ..I can go simplex to communicate with pretty good wattage. I'm allways park away from buildings or my house..... my back yard can accept plenty of people (family mostly) and my other set up's are prearrange for such an event.. but there will be allways something or someone that can riun all this prep's..thats why I have other preps without telling my relatives for such case.

    Also my kids are prepd to accept me or other ones in need ( mostly family).. Security has never been ignored. (water and food)..oof course this prepd for temporary