• What do cows produce in an earthquake? A milkshake!
• What did the ground say to the earthquake? You crack me up!
• What’s the status of a nuclear reactor after an earthquake? Not cool.
• What is an earthquake’s favorite song? “Shake, Rattle and Roll!”
• What do people say when a building collapses in San Francisco? “It’s San Andreas’ Fault!”
Jokes like those have been around since the San Francisco earthquake killed more than 3,000 people on April 16, 1906 — or perhaps even since 1769, when the California’s first earthquake was recorded by the expedition led by Gaspar de Portola, governor of the Spanish colonial province. But earthquakes are no laughing matter.
California experiences more quakes than in any other state. Yet many Californians don’t feel at risk unless they live near the state’s well-known San Andreas Fault or the Hayward Fault.
That misconception gives millions of Californians a false sense of security. The truth is most people in California live within 20 miles of a major fault. Earthquakes affecting people and property can occur at any time, anywhere.
Southern California alone has about 10,000 earthquakes a year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to be felt. Hundreds are greater than magnitude 3.0, and about 20 a year are greater than magnitude 4.0. A big earthquake and its aftershock can produce more earthquakes of all magnitudes for months.
That’s why authorities in California are taking steps to ensure that citizens are educated and prepared for any earthquake disaster. April is “California Earthquake Preparedness Month.” Municipal agencies, schools and businesses are conducting readiness seminars, earthquake drills and other activities for “California Earthquake Preparedness Month.”
The state’s most recent big earthquake – 6.0 in magnitude — occurred in the Napa Valley of northern California on August 24, 2014, just eight months ago. It injured hundreds of people, wrecked homes and commercial property, disabled utility power for tens of thousands of residents and, overall, impacted more than 175,000 people. The estimated economic loss: More than $1 billion, according to the USGS.
Major earthquakes with magnitudes between 6.3 and 8.3 have occurred in California every 5.4 years on average for the last 200 years. Where will the next one strike? Nobody knows.
That’s why the American Red Cross and other agencies advise Californians and people in any at-risk earthquake zone, such as Missouri, Alaska, Nevada and Washington, to prepare with these precautions:
- Keep an earthquake survival kit in your home, car and place of work with food, portable lights, emergency radio, packaged food, water and medical supplies.
- Brace bookshelves and filing cabinets at work and home against the wall.
- Be aware of fire evacuation and earthquake plans for all buildings you occupy regularly.
- Pick safe places in your home, workplace or school, such as under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you. Avoid basements.
- Practice “drop, cover and hold” to protect yourself. Kids and seniors should do the same.
- If you don’t have something sturdy to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench for that purpose.
- If you are in bed during an earthquake, stay there. Curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.
- Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.
- Stay indoors until the shaking stops and it is safe to exit.
- Use stairs rather than an elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.
- If you are outside when the earth starts shaking:
- Drop to the ground. Stay put until the shaking stops — away from buildings, power lines, trees and streetlights.
- If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines. Stay inside with your seatbelt on until the shaking stops. Then, drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
- If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.
- If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris. Landslides are often triggered by earthquakes!
Brian Houser of Quake Kare Points out, ““A recent earthquake in La Habra in Los Angeles County measured a magnitude of 5.1 and caused more than 100 aftershocks that were felt for days.
“California is a leader in disaster response and recovery capabilities, but firemen, police and other first responders can’t do everything by themselves to help ensure public safety in an earthquake or other emergency.
“Every citizen, every business and every organization needs to take steps to be prepared when disaster hits and not just for earthquakes but for floods, tornadoes and potential acts of terrorism,” Houser says.
“In today’s world, we must be prepared for any unexpected disaster. No matter where we live, there’s potential for catastrophe, whether natural or manmade. The best advice is to prepare yourself and your family with the best tools and precautionary procedures to stay as safe as possible.
“Have a survival kit, make a plan and stay informed. Being prepared can save your life!”
For tips on building your own earthquake survival kit, visit http://www.quakekare.com/earthquake.html
A school lockdown happens when officials at a school perceive a threat to students and staff. Students and teachers are instructed to stay in their classrooms with doors and windows closed and locked to protect them from anyone trying to enter. Students are instructed to stay quiet and move to the safest part of the room, and parents are instructed to stay away from the school until everything is safe.
A lockdown is scary for children and adults alike. However, teachers must keep calm and keep their students calm. This may be hard when children are told to hide under their desk in the dark and not make a sound. That’s why lockdown drills are useful. They help children understand what will happen in the case of a lockdown and allow them to practice. Just like tornado and fire drills, these drills should be conducted several times a year. Ask about your school’s lockdown drill policy.
While you discuss what your school will do during a lockdown, find out what type of classroom supplies are available for times of lockdown or other emergencies. Every classroom should have a safety lockdown container survival kit with enough supplies for each students. If your school doesn’t have emergency kits, consider donating one to your child’s classroom, or talk to school administrators about setting up a Save-a-Life school fundraiser to get emergency kits for the school.
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There certainly is a lot going on in the news lately. Shootings, bombings, severe weather, earthquakes. Someone even sent a letter laced with the poison ricin to the President, apparently in an attempt to assassinate him. Then there is the threat of nuclear missiles from North Korea.
Seems like the world has gone crazy.
Events like these can cause a great deal of anxiety, especially when so much misinformation is spread along with legitimate news. This is one reason why preparedness is so important. When you are prepared, it alleviates stress and anxiety over “what if” because you know you can take care of your family if there is an emergency or disaster.
No matter what the emergency, staying calm is essential. If you have the supplies you need for survival and you have practiced a disaster plan with your family, you can respond appropriately without over reacting. Reactions based on logic, and not fear, will keep a bad situation from getting worse.
What types of events are you concerned about? How are you preparing for them?
Whatever your worst case scenario, keep calm and continue preparing so you are ready to handle the situation safely.
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This is a funny time of year. From one day to the next, you aren’t sure if you will get rain, sunny skies, snow or tornadoes. Or all of the above.
Keeping up with the weather forecast can be exhausting in the early spring when it seems like a new season every few hours. The best way to go is to prepare for anything and everything.
Instead of preparing for a specific weather event, consider being prepared for severe weather in general. Create a basic survival kit and then add items for more specific weather events. You may find that most of the things you need will be useful no matter what kind of weather disaster you encounter.
For example, having water and food bars for your family is important no matter what happens. Have a supply in your home, in each vehicle and in your boat, as well as packed in with your camping gear.
Emergency lights, shelter and an emergency radio will serve you well in nearly any situation.
Some people shy away from the hurricane kit because they don’t live in an area prone to hurricanes. However, the supplies in that kit are useful in severe winter weather as well as in the case of a tornado. Personally, I feel everyone should own a hurricane kit as well as a survival kit.
When you browse the kits available, don’t just look at the name of the kit. Look at what that kit contains and how it can be put to use in a variety of situations.
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Believe it or not, it is spring. At least according to the calendar. That means temperatures will start warming and we will start spending more time outdoors. For many, that means camping, fishing, hiking and a variety of other activities in wilderness areas.
Before you take off into the great outdoors, consider these wilderness survival tips to ensure that you come home safe and sound.
1. Have a plan. Decide ahead of time where you will go, what route you will take and when you will return. Make a copy of this information and leave it with someone who isn’t going along with you. If you do not return when expected, this person will be able to contact authorities for help.
2. Dress for the possibilities. It may be sunny and warm when you leave, but the weather can change quickly, especially if you are in mountain areas. Make sure you bring extra clothing just in case the temperatures drop or a sudden storm blows in.
3. Know the area. If you are visiting a place you’ve never explored before, have a map to help you find your way around. Stay on established trails if at all possible. Nothing ruins an outing faster than getting lost.
4. Be aware of your surroundings. Pay close attention to loose rocks and other hazards that may cause you to fall and injure yourself. Keep an eye out for local wildlife so you can avoid dangerous confrontations.
5. Bring emergency supplies. At the very least, bring a small first aid kit, extra food, water and/or a water filtration bottle, and an emergency blanket or two. Also carry a flashlight and have a way to start a fire. If you get lost or hurt, you will need these items to stay warm, build a shelter and signal for help.
photo credit: Zach Dischner via photopin cc