Are You Ready When It Rumbles?
I love L.A.
The beaches, the nightlight, the culture and the weather are as close to utopia as one can get.
But LA is earthquake country and lately there’s been a whole lot of shaking going on in the City of the Angels.
On March 16, a magnitude 4.4 earthquake rattled us at 4:04 a.m. The epicenter was near Pico Rivera but the temblor was felt throughout Los Angeles.Â
Who can forget the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that jolted us on April 4th just about the time many of us were sitting down to an Easter dinner? It struck at 3:40 p.m. Although the epicenter of this quake was in Mexicali, Mexico, it was certainly felt right here in Los Angeles making Easter dinner a little unnerving.
It seems the only time we think about earthquakes is when one happens. So needless to say we’ve been thinking about them a lot. And we should because geologists predict that there is a 99.7 percent chance of having a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake during the next 30 years. They also predict the mega quake is more likely to occur in the southern half of California.
But overall, most of us live in denial about the “big one” and we haven’t done the most basic and rudimentary preparations to protect our families, homes and business. Just look at what happened in Mexico. After the earthquake, there were broken gas and water lines. Communication was disrupted. Homes and businesses were damaged. Roads were buckled, cracked and destroyed making it difficult for emergency responders to get to people who needed help.
When are we going to face the fact that it is not a matter of if a big earthquake will strike the Southland, it’s just a matter of when. And when it does will you be ready?
Here are a few basics to get you started. Look at this as a preventative measure just like you take preventive measures to keep your car running or preventative measures to prevent tooth decay. The preventative measures you take in preparing for an earthquake can save your life and that of your family. Earthquakes don’t injure people, falling objects and lack of preparation does.
Protect yourself when it starts shaking – Practice the following internationally recognized safety measure: Drop (to the ground before the shaking drops you), Cover (get under a sturdy desk or table), Hold On (to the desk or table until the shaking stops).
Develop a simple emergency plan – Here are the basics. Have your family agree upon an out-state relative or friend to be your family contact. During an emergency intra-state phone lines are jammed and you won’t be able to call each other, but you can often get a call out of state. Use that number to check in. Next pick two places to meet for emergencies outside your home or somewhere in the neighborhood in case you can’t get home.
Create an emergency kit for your home, car, workplace or school – Remember it can take at least 72 hours before emergency responders can get to you after an emergency. So make a starter kit with some of the following items: tennis shoes, change of clothes, personal hygiene items, battery powered flashlight and radio, extra batteries, universal DC adaptor/charger, nutrition/protein bars, canned foods and juices, baby formula, pet food, manual can opener, plastic utensils, work gloves, water (at least 1 gallon per person, per day), medications, eyeglasses, blankets/sleeping bags, copies of important family documents and some cash.
Secure your space – Get a fire extinguisher. Secure bookcases, cabinets, televisions and water heaters with blots, brackets or straps. Install or replace worn cabinet latches. Make sure your smoke detectors are working, test them regularly.
Learn how to shut off your utilities – during a major earthquake natural gas leaks can occur, water pipes can rupture, and arching and burning can occur in electrical items. It’s important to know how to shut off all your utilities and your utility company can help you with that.
There is more that you can do, but this is a great place to start. It really is time for us to raise our readiness IQ. Our lives and that of our families depend on it. After all, we live in earthquake country, but we can make Los Angeles a readiness town. For more readiness tips on how to prepare, respond and recovery from any kind of disaster, the City of Los Angeles has a great website, it is www.readyla.org. (If you have comments about Veronica’s View, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.