The Northridge Earthquake: Preparing For The Next One : Prepare, Prepare, Prepare--Surviving the Big One Depends on It : Safety: As sure as death and taxes, earthquakes will come. Pre-planning and storing goods offer best insurance.
You made it through this one. You could probably use a little breather.
Not just yet. Take a couple of minutes to remember the one absolutely inflexible, ironclad, irrevocable rule about big earthquakes in Southern California: There are going to be more of them.
Aside from the preparations outlined in the graphic above, store important papers in a fireproof storage or safe-deposit box, a freezer (with documents tightly sealed in a freezer bag) or with an out-of-town relative or friend--send copies, not originals.
Teamwork is also a key to surviving a quake. In Scotts Valley, an isolated area near the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, pre-planning by a a group of residents saved houses and possibly lives. The neighbors learned the layout of each others’ homes and exchanged keys and telephone numbers. They set up caches of food, water and emergency supplies.
Stephanie Mann, author of “Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods” (Nolo Press, 1993) offers advice on organizing such a group:
* Neighbors can do a lot for each other after an earthquake. They may rescue your child or pull you out of debris. It’s important to know if there is a doctor, nurse or firefighter in the neighborhood. You also need to help your neighbors. If one house goes, the whole block can go.
* Neighbors should distribute an emergency neighborhood map with names, telephone numbers and symbols for gas and electricity. Signal each other by agreeing that a red symbol on the mailbox indicates a problem and a white symbol indicates that everything is OK.
During the Quake
You’ve been through it now, and you know what it feels like. Next time, recognize it for what it is and don’t panic.
* If you’re indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or table, stand in a corner or in a doorway.
* If you’re outside, stay there, too. But get away from trees, buildings, walls or power lines.
* If you’re in a high-rise building, don’t use the elevators. Stay away from the outside walls.
* If you’re driving, pull over and stop. Stay away from overpasses and power lines.
After the Quake
* Check for injuries. If there are any, apply first aid. Don’t move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger.
* Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency--a serious injury or fire.
* Check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines. If you find damage, turn off the utility at the source.
* Check your water supplies. You can get emergency water from water heaters, melted ice cubes, toilet tanks (not bowls; and don’t drink tank water if you’re using a disinfecting agent there) and canned vegetables. Drinking pool water over a long period isn’t advisable. Likewise, water stored in vinyl plastic containers, such as water beds, isn’t suitable for continued use.
* If the electricity is out, turn on a portable radio for immediate news.
* If you have broken windows, tape them to prevent flying glass in case of aftershocks.
* Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles. Keep at least a quarter tank of gas in your car and maps in the glove compartment.
* Check for structural damage to your home.
* If you have to evacuate, leave a note.
Remember: Strong aftershocks are likely after a strong quake.
Emergency Supply Kit
A well-organized cache of emergency supplies is essential to every Southern California household. It should include:
* Flashlights and extra batteries. Avoid matches or open flames unless you are certain there are no gas leaks.
* A portable radio and extra batteries.
* A first-aid kit.
* A fire extinguisher.
* Non-perishable food to support each person in the house for a week.
* Water--one gallon per person per day.
* Food and water for pets.
* Blankets, clothing and sturdy shoes.
* Sufficient medication, special diet food, extra eyeglasses or contact lenses.
* Cash. Automated teller machines may not work and merchants may not accept checks or credit cards. After a major quake, cash is likely to talk loudest.
* Another way to cook. A barbecue or camp stove will do, along with a hand-operated can opener, matches and heavy-duty aluminum foil.
* Large plastic bags for trash, waste and water protection.
* Personal hygiene items.
* Tools. Basics: heavy gloves for clearing debris, an adjustable or pipe wrench for turning off gas and water. Desirable: an ax, crowbar, shovel, broom, screwdriver, pliers, hammer, knife or razor blades. A garden hose for siphoning and firefighting.
In the white pages of the telephone book is “the most marvelous, comprehensive earthquake survival guide,” said Martin Wyatt, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
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The Northridge Earthquake: Preparing For The Next One
Before One Strikes Again
Bracing Your Home for the Next Earthquake
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Northridge earthquake, there is no better time to put your house in earthquake order. Many households that suffered damage last January could have been spared--at least could have avoided major damage--if some precautions had been taken. And even more important, such precautions can reduce the chances that you or members of your family will be injured in a quake. Although much in this world is uncertain, there is no doubt that last year’s quake won’t be the last.
In the attic If your home has a chimney nail plywood to the ceiling joists around the chimney to help protect from falling bricks. *
Foundation, framing Look at exposed framing to see if the wood is secured to concrete foundation by foundation bolts. Older homes are less likely to be secured and may need to be retrofitted.
Determine whether there are vertical studs extending from foundation up to the floor. If so, and if they are exposed, nail plywood sheeting to the studs in order to strengthen the walls.
On exposed framing, use metal connectors to strengthen joints where beams and posts join. Use nails or lag screws to fasten connectors to exposed framing in such places as porches, patio covers, garages and basements. *
Walls Make sure heavy mirrors, pictures and wall hangings are anchored in studs, not just throughthe wall. If possible, remove such items and substitute something lighter, particularly above beds.
Bookshelves, wall units L-shaped braces screwed into studs can be used to attach shelving, cabinets, tall dressers to walls.
Guardrails across the front will help keep books and other objects from sliding off shelves. Rails can be of wire or decorative metal. Creating a lip on shelf edges with wood trim will also help keep things in place.
Remove heavy objects from top.
Mantels, tabletops Objects that must remain loose, such as vases and mantel clocks, have a tendency to “walk” or jiggle off tabletops during a quake. A piece of rubberized anti- slip rug mat trimmed to fit under the object won’t keep it from tipping over but will help keep it from walking away.
Water heaters Secure your free- standing water heater using plumber’s tape. *
Hanging lights, plants Anchor lights, plants or other hanging objects in wood beams rather than simply through plaster or other ceiling panels. Close hooks by bending them shut with pliers or wrapping them with wire. If you are using heavy plant pots, consider changing to something lighter.
Gas appliance If the tubing that carries gas to your appliances is rigid, consider replacing it with approved corrugated metal connectors, which are not as likely to break with severe shaking.
Kitchen, dining room
Install latches on cupboards and cabinets. Plastic latches sold for child- proofing are an inexpensive, easy- to- install option that does not change the appearance of cabinets.
In a china cabinet, small pieces of tacky adhesive or putty can help keep collectibles in place.
Restrain large appliances such as refrigerators with a strap or hook, remembering that a degree of flexibility provides more stress resitance. *
A gas leak primer Know where your gas meter is. It could be in one of several locations, including at the side of the house; under the house or in a crawl space; in a celler or basement; around the garage; in a porch; underground near the curb, or in the middle of the lawn.
Locate the shut- off valve and determine that you can reach it.
Have an adjustable wrench available for turning off the valve. Special gas shut- off wrenches are available and can be tied with wire to the meter so you’ll always be able to find the wrench.
Make sure everyone in the family knows how to turn off the valve. *
Notes Keep a basic first- aid kit, flashlights and a supply of bottled water in your house for use in a quake or other emergency.
Keep flammable liquids and other hazardous substances (paint, cleaning fluids, chemical sprays) in the garage or in an outside shed. Sources: Southern California Earthquake Preparedness Project, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; Orange County Fire Department, Emergency Management Division; Federal Emergency Management Agency; Lafferty & Associates Inc.