Health & Safety

July 27, 2012

There is no such thing as earthquake season

by Robert J. Kaschak
452 Emergency Management Technician

The United States Gological Survey website reported Rancho Cucamonga received a 3.2 magnitude earthquake, July 19. Since we cannot predict the time, place and magnitude of an earthquake, we must remain cognizant of the reality that this could be the prelude to a much bigger event.

When preparing for an earthquake, education is paramount because it allows for organized preparation and responsible reaction to such a catastrophic event. If you are inclined to build an earthquake kit, there is plenty of information posted on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website on items to procure/maintain. Below is a checklist to consider when preparing your family for this type of natural disaster:

Before an Earthquake

  • Ensure you have an emergency kit and family communications plan
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
  • Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
  • Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
  • Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor.
  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.

During an Earthquake

If indoors

  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside.
  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
  • If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

If outdoors

  • ➤ Stay outside — Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.

If in a moving vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle.
  • Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

If trapped under debris:

  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you.
  • Call out but be careful not in inhale dust

After an Earthquake

  • When the shaking stops, look around to make sure it is safe to move. Then exit the building. Expect aftershocks.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home has been damaged and is no longer safe. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Inspect facilities. Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency by visiting: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/emergency/index.html

There are three main fault lines in southern California — San Jacinto, Lake Elsinore and the San Andreas. The San Andreas Fault is the largest of the three and is over 300 years overdue for a rupture. If there is a significant shaker, chances are that communication and transportation systems will be crippled for an indefinite period. Due to our dense population, infrastructure and the existence of so many different faults throughout the state, we must maintain preparedness at all times.

As emergency managers and planners, we urge everyone to look at this event as a reminder to ensure we are prepared to survive a natural disaster. The USGS and FEMA websites are great sources of information and education. If you need checklists, information or just have questions, please call us at 951-655-3024. The time to check, act, and prepare is now, not when it happens. As you read this, ask yourself if you are ready for the big one. If not, you should be!




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