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EDITORIAL: A timely quake drill

Tuesday’s earthquake, which sent many ducking for cover, is a good reminder that “the big one” is just a matter of time. This 5.4 quake was the biggest in the area since the devastating Northridge earthquake in 1994, which paralyzed large parts of Los Angeles and caused massive destruction in the San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica.

Since that quake, seismic requirements for new construction have been significantly improved, and the general wisdom is that this accounts for the very low rate of damage from this very shaky temblor, which was centered in the Chino Hills of San Bernardino and felt from Burbank to Las Vegas.

While the strengthening requirements are obviously working for new buildings, a requirement that hospitals retrofit their facilities to withstand a major quake is itself shaking up the health-care industry.

South Coast Medical Center is one of those older hospitals that will eventually have to meet the new requirements. It’s very important that the hospital be able to withstand a major seismic event, and for that, it will need major fundraising. Hospital officials are very aware of this and working on solutions, with the help of concerned community members.

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We’ll be watching closely to see how this plays out in light of the hospital’s plans to replace its outdated facilities.

Also in the wake of the temblor, the American Red Cross of Orange County is issuing an alert to all residents to “get prepared” by putting together emergency kits with at least three days’ worth of food, water, medications and other supplies. Also highly important is to bolt down tall furnishings, such as bookshelves, put latches on cupboard doors, and strap your water heater to wall studs.

A lot of us might also want to review the rules for safe behavior during an earthquake: Don’t run outside. Many were guilty of doing just this on Tuesday, although people in stores with high shelves had little other option than to run. For the record, here’s the drill: Drop under a sturdy table, cover your head and hold on until the shaking stops. Fortunately, when the shaking stopped Tuesday, most were able to go back to their normal routines.



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