sipa 12748617 A 4.5 mag. earthquake hit CA this A.M., are you ready for the big one?

Paul Budde Sr., head of Benfield’s catastrophe modeling, discusses the damage from the magnitude 6.5. Cambria earthquake with staff researchers at the Bloomington, Minnesota, firm in June 2004. The earthquake shook San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. (Photo by nk)

By Jonathan Kaupanger

Growing up in California – just south of San Francisco, earthquakes like this morning’s magnitude 4.5 one are almost routine. Buildings are made to deal with the shaking so when one hits, quite often, you don’t even feel it happening.  And yes, the West Coast is ripe for a big one to hit, but it could happen in many other states as well. The United States Geological Survey says that more than 143 million American’s live in areas where earthquakes can cause significant damage, just take a look at this map. 42 states are at risk, 16 at a high risk.

Do you think you’re ready if the big one hits? Here’s some information on what you can do during an earthquake and what you should have on hand in case an earthquake – or any other natural disaster strikes.

1. Information, Information, (local) Information!
Having a survival kit is important, but knowledge is even more so! Do you know what local infrastructure will kick in after a disaster? Some services may not be available like electricity, phones, water. There could even be problems with transportation, so getting supplies could become an issue.
Do you live downstream of a dam and live in an earthquake zone? Do you have an evacuation plan? How about power plants, do you live by a nuclear power plant? Even facilities that process  sewage or hazardous industrial waste could become problem spots.

2. What to do immediately after the shaking stops.
Accountability, is important (as you already know) so first, check if anyone is hurt. Maybe you have a neighborhood watch, get together and look for anyone who can’t help themselves.
Decrease dangers next like turning off gas and water. These are things you need to know how to do ahead of time.

sipa 12991330 A 4.5 mag. earthquake hit CA this A.M., are you ready for the big one?

The Oakland Bay Bridge suffered huge earthquake damage in October 1989.  Travel isn’t always possible after an earthquake.  (Tom Van Dyke/San Jose Mercury News/MCT/Sipa USA)

3. Prepare now, don’t wait!
“I’m going to buy this stuff, eventually.” Yup, sounds good, until you need it and it’s not there. Make a plan, do it now. Then, get a little more than you think you’ll need.

4. Think before evacuating.
This really all depends where you live, for example, if you live in Southern California, where exactly could you go? If you have a yard, you could just put pitch a tent in the yard. You can wash in the yard… you can even make a toilet in your yard. Staying put might be the best thing, just plan ahead.

5. Storing water is the easiest thing to do.
Plastic containers that hold carbonated water work best because the plastic used for these bottles is thicker than what’s used for non-carbonated water bottles. So it lasts longer – up to five or six years.

Now let’s talk survival kits. The Los Angeles Times posted a really detailed graphic on survival kits and how to make your home safer. It’s pretty earthquake specific, but the survival kit part is useful for all disaster situations.

For pets, the Humane Society has a very good check-list here. We have two dogs, so my husband and I have already sorted out who’s responsible for which pup if something should happen. Again, the LA Times wrote a great article about evacuating pets a few years ago that’s worth a read too.

Bottom line, it’s all about preparation.

Connect: @JonathanVets1 |

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