Health & Safety

August 28, 2014

Being prepared in earthquake country

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Rebecca Amber
Staff writer

For National Preparedness Month, this September, the Edwards AFB Office of Emergency Management is focusing on Califorina’s most prominent natural disaster – earthquakes. Throughout the month, Emergency Management will provide resources teaching how to be prepared for an earthquake, before, during and after the shaking begins.

Edwards AFB Emergency Management is gearing up for National Preparedness Month in September. Throughout the month, they will be at various locations on base to enhance awareness and offer materials on how to prepare for a natural or man-made disaster.

“Here at Edwards AFB in California, our biggest and most natural threat is earthquakes,” said Michael Feyerle, Office of Emergency Management chief. “Just in the last 30 days we’ve had 60-plu earthquakes ranging from a magnitude of 2.0 to 6.0.”

While there are other natural disasters to prepare for such as flash flooding or hot and cold temperature extremes, earthquakes are the main focus. Emergency Management will be at the Base Exchange Sept. 27 to bring in the “Big Shaker,” an earthquake simulator from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

“Our intent is to get people who live on the base and work on the base to experience what it feels like to be in a natural earthquake. There is a big push for us to make sure families have a plan.”

In the Antelope Valley there are four major faults, the San Andreas, San Jacinto, Elsinore and Imperial faults.

“The biggest thing we’re concerned about is the San Andreas fault. Palmdale, Highway 14 by Avenue S, literally crosses the San Andreas Fault,” said Feyerle.

For families that live off base, it’s important to locate their local resources, such as the American Red Cross.

According to Feyerle, there are several steps to earthquake safety. The first is to secure your space at work and home. That includes making sure large items such as water heaters are bolted to the wall and heavy objects are not placed higher than seven feet. Heavy photographs or mirrors hanging above a bed are also not recommended.

Then prepare a disaster kit. In the event of an evacuation from your home, at least a three-day supply of necessities is recommended, including water, formula for infants and medications. It’s also wise to secure important documents such as marriage certificates or insurance plans.

“A tip that I like to share, identify a family member outside of the state to serve as your epicenter. Train your family not to call mom and dad if the phones are busy, but to call that individual out of state, such as a grandparent. Everybody calls that person who can relay the message of whose safe and where they are.”

Feyerle noted that there is a better chance of contacting someone who is out-of-state because the phones are not inundated.

The next step in earthquake preparedness is knowing your environment. Stay away from windows during an earthquake and try to take cover near a supported structure. The rule of thumb is drop, cover, hold and never try to run out of a building during an earthquake.

When the shaking stops, the recovery phase begins and first and emergency responders will begin to appear on the scene. While emergency response teams will do their best to aid as many people as they can, they have to start with the more severe situations first.

“It’s your responsibility to prepare for the recovery piece,” said Feyerle. “That includes checking for injuries; following your plan to ensure that you know how to shut off your gas mains in the house and make a note of damage to structures to point out when help comes.”

At home, Emergency Management recommends that each person keep a pair of shoes with a flashlight tucked inside next to their bed for evacuation.

Following an earthquake on Edwards AFB, personnel would be expected to evacuate the building and go to the designated rally point for accountability. Any person not accounted for would be reported to the first responders as missing.

“It’s important that as a community we actually tell our leadership or let folks know when we’re leaving the office in the event something happens.”

Special accommodations may be necessary for the disabled and elderly, as well as pets. For instance, a hearing-impaired individual may need a flashing light installed in their work space to alert them to an evacuation.

Once an earthquake has ended, do not attempt to re-enter the building until civil authorities have given the okay to do so. Aftershocks may be felt up to days after the initial shake.

“Northridge was a 6.7 had two 6.0 aftershocks and a 6.0 was as severe as the one at Napa [California]‚Ćrecently, so that in itself created destruction,” said Feyerle.

Disaster-preparedness kits range in size, but at least one duffel bag-sized kit is recommended. In the event of an evacuation, the kit should sustain a family for three days. For individuals who remain at home, however, it is recommended that there are enough supplies to survive for two weeks. Supplies should be checked for expiration dates and replaced monthly. The kit should be stored in a climate-controlled place that is easy to access.

The kit may include:

  • Water, one gallon per person, per day
  • Non-perishible food items
  • Supplies for infants including diapers and formula
  • Key phone numbers
  • A rally point map
  • Prescription medications
  • Pet supplies
  • Sanitary supplies
  • Dust masks
  • Two way radios
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Extra clothing
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Blankets and sleeping bags

“Whistles are important if you do get stuck or are in an area with no egress and you can’t get out.”

Games and activities are also important, especially for families with children.

“If you’re real techy you may have a little solar charger for your electronic devices, but if not, a deck of cards, some Uno, something like that,” said Feyerle.

The Office of Emergency Management is available year-round to offer preparedness guidance. To make an appointment to review your preparedness plan, call 661-277-4433. No appointment is necessary to pick up written materials.

Read more about preparing for various emergencies and disasters at http://www.beready.af.mil/.




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