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PLANNING FOR THE BIG ONE

Compiled by Times researcher MICHAEL MEYERS

If the earthquake known as the Big One does strike along the southern San Andreas Fault or in parts of the Los Angeles-Orange County metropolitan area, vital services by firefighters, paramedics, health care professionals and police may not be available for several hours or days.

Moreover, in the hardest-hit areas there may be no water, gas, electrical or phone service for several days. Many freeways and roads may be impassable and strong aftershocks could hamper aid efforts.

BEFORE THE QUAKE / Things to do:

* Communications: Decide where your family will reunite if separated. Choose an out-of-state friend whom separated family members can call to report their whereabouts (avoid using local telephone lines).

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* Safe spots: Know the ones in your house-under sturdy tables or desks, or against inside walls.

* Danger spots: Know the ones in your house-windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall furniture.

* First aid: Learn first-aid procedures and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

* Phone numbers: Keep a list of emergency phone numbers posted.

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* Utilities: Learn how to shut off gas, water and electricity in case the lines are damaged. But do NOT attempt to relight a gas pilot light; call the utility company.

* Structural check: Check chimneys, roofs, walls and foundation for stability.

* Appliances: Secure water heater and appliances that could move enough to rupture utility lines.

* Storage: Keep breakables and heavy objects on bottom shelves.

* Furniture: Secure heavy, tall furniture that can topple.

* Walls: Secure hanging plants and picture frames or mirrors, especially over beds.

* Cabinets: Put latches on cabinet doors to prevent objects from falling out.

* Dangerous materials: Keep flammable or hazardous liquids such as paints, pest sprays and cleaning products in cabinets or secured on lower shelves.

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* Children: Familiarize yourself with the emergency plans of children’s school or day care center. Make backup plans for someone else to pick them up if necessary. Include books, toys, games in your emergency supplies.

DURING THE QUAKE / Know what to do depending on where you are:

* If indoors: Stay there. Get under a desk or table or stand in a corner.

* If outdoors: Get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines.

* If in a high-rise building: Stay away from windows and outside walls. Do not use elevators.

* If driving: Pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses and power lines. Stay inside until shaking is over.

* If in a crowded public place: Do not rush for the doors. Move away from display shelves.

AFTER THE QUAKE / An emergency checklist:

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* Injuries: Check for injuries and apply any needed first aid. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger.

* Telephone: Do not use the telephone unless there is a serious injury or fire.

* Utilities: Check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines. If there is damage, turn utility off at the source.

* Damage: Check building for cracks and damage, including roof, chimneys and foundation.

* Water: Check water supplies. Emergency water may be obtained from water heaters, melted ice cubes, toilet tanks and canned vegetables.

* Radio: Turn on your portable radio for instructions and news reports.

* Windows: Tape any broken windows to prevent glass shards from flying during aftershocks.

* Vehicles: Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.

* Aftershocks: Be prepared for strong aftershocks.

* Messages: If you evacuate, leave a note telling family members where you are.

YOUR SUPPLY KIT / You should have enough emergency supplies for at least 72 hours, on hand:

+ Flashlights with extra batteries: Do not use matches or candles until you are certain there are no gas leaks.

+ Portable radio with extra batteries.

+ First aid-kit and fire extinguisher.

+ Food: Store a one-week supply for food per person.

+ Water: Store enough water for each person to have one gallon per day. Store in airtight containers and replace every six months.

+ Pets: Include food and water for your animals. Remember they may not be allowed at an emergency shelter.

+ Blankets, clothing and shoes: Have enough to keep warm. Have sturdy shoes to protect feet from broken glass and other debris.

+ Special items: Have at least a week’s supply of medications, extra eyeglasses or contact lenses, food for infants and those on special diets.

+ Cash: Keep some cash on hand; automated teller machines may not be working and stores may not be able to accept checks or credit cards.

+ Alternative cooking source: May include a barbecue or camp stove. Include matches, hand-operated can opener and heavy-duty aluminum foil.

+ Shelter and repairs: A tent if available. Also, a coil of half-inch rope, plastic tape and plastic sheeting to cover damaged windows or walls.

+ Sanitation supplies: Large plastic bags for trash, waste and water protection. Also make up personal hygiene kits.

+ Tools: Heavy gloves for clearing debris. Crescent or pipe wrench to turn off gas and water if necessary. Other tools should include an ax, crowbar, shovel, broom, screwdriver, pliers, hammer, knife or razor blades. Keep a garden hose for siphoning and firefighting.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Contact your local Red Cross

State Office of Emergency Services, 2800 Meadowview Road, Sacramento, Calif. 95832. (916) 423-4347

Orange County Fire Department, Emergency Management Division, 180 S. Water St., Orange, Calif. 92666. (714) 744-0567.

SOURCES: State Office of Emergency Services; California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology; Times staff.


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