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A Big Earthquake to Come? Get Prepared!
By Kaylee Davis (Intern)
Published July 22, 2010


Sentinel interviews Firefighter Jayson Johnson on earthquake safety. Brian Carter for Sentinel
Sentinel interviews Firefighter Jayson Johnson on earthquake safety. Brian Carter for Sentinel

With a large earthquake on the possible horizon, Californians must prepare for the worst.

By Kaylee Davis
Sentinel Intern

Recent earthquakes have many Californians fearful a ‘big one’ is nearing. Brandon Gray, a Los Angeles native, speaks of being shaken up by the tremors. “I feel that it’s a warning to a big earthquake that is soon to come,” he shares.

Firefighter-Paramedic Jayson Johnson explains that California is historically hit by a large scale earthquake every 150 years, and the latest occurred in 1957. “Essentially we are overdue…like eleven months pregnant,” Johnson warns. Luckily California, a modernized region, will not experience devastation at the levels of Haiti and other such nations. Johnson reassures, “Our buildings are built stronger.”

Yet, Californians must realize earthquake awareness is imperative. Along with numerous Angelinos, Gray’s memory of earthquake safety is hazy at best. Jennifer Johnson of L.A. admits she no longer owns an earthquake kit. Both were last educated on earthquake preparation several years ago in elementary school.

Johnson, who specializes in disaster preparedness education, advises against this and encourages Angelinos and all Californians to brush-up on their earthquake knowledge and start planning. He says, “We can’t prevent, but we can prepare.” In the event of an earthquake, the paramedics and firefighters will not have the manpower to save all four million Los Angeles residents. “It’s going to be people’s ability to help themselves,” Johnson informs.

Johnson likens disaster training to an old African proverb, “I can give you a fish and feed you for a day, or I can teach you to fish and feed you for a lifetime;” he continues, “disaster preparedness is teaching people how to fish.” Johnson promotes taking baby steps towards readying your household.

Develop an earthquake emergency plan for your family that includes a meeting place in case of separation. Educate your children, and focus on making them feel safe and secure. “Teach them age appropriately,” Johnson articulates. He believes every family member can be an asset during an earthquake.

Prepare your house for an earthquake; secure overhead objects or take them down all together. Be sure to put together an earthquake kit which includes water, food, a pair of walking shoes, flash lights, batteries, first aid, and a whistle. Johnson also keeps a crowbar, hammer, and battery-operated radio in his bedroom. In addition, preparation can include scanning all important documents to an external hard drive or emailing them to yourself.

Before an earthquake, know the location of your main water serve pipe and the main electrical panel of your home. All responsible household members should know how to shut off the gas meter.

During an earthquake, instead of running towards a doorway which can be dangerous, simply “duck, cover, and hold on.” Avoid glass, and wait until the shaking subsides to assess the damage.

For additional information, visit Johnson’s blog site on disaster preparedness- Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes are offered free of charge to educate citizens on disaster awareness. Visit or email Take note of Johnson’s motto, “Hope for the best; prepare for the worst,” and your family will have the ability to tackle an earthquake with expertise.


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