Volunteers Sought for Quake Safety Project

A new pilot program to help San Fernando Valley senior citizens quake-proof their homes is seeking volunteers to launch the project.

As part of the "Earthquake Survival Project," volunteers will be taught to visit homes of seniors and eliminate potential hazards such as overloaded bookcases.

The first training session will be held Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the Valley Storefront Jewish Family Services, 12821 Victory Blvd., in North Hollywood. Volunteers will begin visiting homes next week.

"We got lots and lots of calls from people who were caught unawares by the first quake," said Dory Gradwohl, director of the senior center. Seniors, she said, "tend not to prepare" and "sometimes have a fatalistic attitude" toward earthquakes.

But, Gradwohl said, many seniors find themselves struggling to stay alive in the aftermath.

"We're going to try to anticipate what seniors need to do to prepare themselves," Gradwohl said.

Inspections will be made by appointment and involve two-person inspection teams.

Advice will include stockpiling extra medication until quake-wracked pharmacies are open again.

A collection of spare medication, eyeglasses and some articles of clothing should also be placed in an accessible location.

A handyman will be available to secure heavy bookcases, water heaters, or make other quake-proof modifications to the home.

Fifty households have already requested the non-sectarian service, with more expected, Gradwohl said. Volunteers will be asked to work one day per week, following three to four hours of training.

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