Earthquake preparedness

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By Roselin Ojeda

When the ground begins to shake, stop, drop, and take cover.

As I sat in math class, my eyes began to glaze over and my mind began to wonder what I would have for lunch that day.

I couldn’t decide between Subway and Pollo Loco, when suddenly the whole room began to shake. As everyone dropped under their tables I began to grab my things and head for the door.

The ground had not stopped shaking but I didn’t care, I wanted to get out. In my hurry I repeatedly kept bumping into other students and some of the furniture.

As everyone headed for the doorway, I decided to take the elevator to save me some time.

I knew I was being smarter then everyone else. I stood there smirking when suddenly the elevator stopped.  I kept clicking the call button but no one would answer me.

“How will people know I’m in here?” I thought to myself. After what seemed like forever, someone finally answered the emergency call button.

“Someone please help me! The stupid elevator is stuck!” I yelled.

“Ma’am we need you to stay calm. We are working on getting you out of there but we are not sure how long it will take.”

Just great, I thought to myself, I’m going to starve to death in here! After hours of waiting (it was really only 40 minutes) the elevator began to move and I was free once again.

“You know its never a good idea to take the elevator in case of an earthquake right?” one of the firefighters said to me.

Well I do now.

Its always a good idea to review what steps should be taken in case of an earthquake. California natives are no strangers to what an earthquake is and how unexpected they can be.

Southern California has over 10,000 earthquakes a year and although most are so small that they are never felt, 15-20 of them are above a 4.0 magnitude.

It is never a bad idea to be as prepared as possible in case a natural disaster was to strike.

When the ground begins to shake always remain calm and drop down on the floor so the shaking does not cause you to fall.

It is best to take cover under a table or desk and stay out of doorways, they do not help protect against flying objects.

Stay clear of windows and ceiling fixtures that could possibly fall. Always cover your neck and head from the possibility of falling debris.

In the event of already being located outside stay away from trees, street lights, over passes, and utility wires.

After the ground has stopped shaking, proceed toward the door calmly and in an orderly fashion. Do not get distracted with trying to collect your things.

You can always come back for them later. Always remember to never take the elevator because it can get stuck and cause you to become trapped inside.

The stairs are the safest option. Wherever your location, you should be aware of the emergency exits in case any of the other exits become blocked by fallen debris.

If someone is hurt or injured, it is best to leave them where they are instead of trying to move them and possibly getting yourself hurt in the process as well.

An emergency response crew will do a sweep of the building once it is safe to do so and will assist all that may need medical attention.

An earthquake can be a serious natural disaster and should be taken seriously.

Always remember to use caution and make the best decisions for both yourself and anyone else that may be present.

This article has 1 Comment

  1. Roselin, great idea! Earthquake preparedness is well written and I’ve been through every earthquake since Sylmar…yeah, I’m old. It’s good to be prepared and to avoid things like taking the elevators, that’s why stairs were invented? But hey, you learned and that’s great, but there is one thing you left out and I don’t expect you to be so OCD and know this, so that is why I am posting an addendum to your opine…so what was it you left out?

    Investing, being proactive and yes, political.

    Northridge, Whittier Narrows, and all the previous quakes in the past 50 years were big. Even the 6.4 quake in Long Beach was big but the potential for a major quake is imminent. The largest quake according to the California Department of Conservation (http://www.conservation.ca.gov/index/Earthquakes/pages/qh_earthquakes_calbigones.aspx) 7.9 April 18, 1906 San Francisco 3,000 killed, $524 million(Today’s value: $9,461,000,000) in property damage , including fire damage and that was strong. Yet locally, there is a fault line near where you study and that is the La Puente thrust fault, which may hit any time at 7.5. Though a lot lesser than he San Francisco quake, the damage can be extensive.

    According to CBSLA:
    7.5 Temblor On Puente Hills Thrust Fault Would Be ‘The Quake From Hell’
    http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/03/30/7-5-quake-on-puente-hills-thrust-fault-could-be-disastrous/

    The fault line is directly under the City of Los Angeles and if that fault slip and cause a major quake, “The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that such a quake along the Puente Hills fault could kill 3,000 to 18,000 people and cause up to $250 billion in damage. In contrast, a larger magnitude 8 quake along the San Andreas would cause an estimated 1,800 deaths.”

    The problem? our infrastructure is not built to withstand a temblor so close to the city and currently, the only investment the Congress gave to California was an early alert system:

    Congress Approves $8.2 Million For Earthquake Early Warning System
    http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2015/12/19/congress-approves-8-2-million-for-west-coast-earthquake-early-warning-system/

    This system gives a few seconds or more of notice before an earthquake hits in the West Coast…now imagine being in the elevator when the system shuts down the elevator and you’re trapped inside a metal tomb while buildings and infrastructure collapse? What may feel like hours of waiting (it was really only 40 minutes) may truly be hours, days or weeks before you are found (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr6cjmWY4ac)…if you managed to survive the destruction.

    So yes, preparedness is great, going under your desk, staying away from glass and buildings and so on, but besides doing something during an earthquake in order to survive, prepare for before (like lobbying your member of Congress), during a quake, see how the building’s sway (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYoINdvBuTM) and after a quake: having canned food, water, blankets, toiletries, radio and so on…oh the 2011 quake in Japan lasted six minutes.

    Being prepared in all situation is the key to surviving, as one part of the process of earthquake…during as most people do is not enough. By preparing: before, during and after, costs from the damage would be a lot less and loss of life would be extremely minimal too. So join staff and follow up on this story.

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