Are You Prepared for the Big One? by Jim Kirkpatrick, EPSC

Did You Feel It?

Were you one of the approximately 361,1241 Coachella Valley residents who were awakened on June 10, 2016, at 1:04 am by the 5.2 magnitude Borrego Springs earthquake? This earthquake shook the CV violently for 15 seconds and, according to news reports, few people slept through it, including my wife and me! Like you, we experienced the hundreds of lesser aftershocks, several inthe 3.0 – 3.5 magnitude class that followed. Both of us hate earthquakes and their unpredictability!

So what did you do when the 15 seconds of shaking stopped? The experts tell us that, when the “really Big One” strikes, it could last as long as 60 – 90 seconds. Hold your breath for that long and see how slowly the time passes. Let me share with you what we did. We were confident our home and we were as well prepared as possible. Our refrigerators and tall furniture are anchored to the walls as well as all of our wall art and bric-a-brac. Our home has an electrical generator if needed, food and water adequate to support us for 7 – 14 days, as well as first aid and CPR training and trauma first-aid kits if needed (not little Band-Aid kits!).

I have CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training and other skill sets associated with disasters. So we felt reasonably comfortable after the initial fear and shaking quieted while we waited for the possible larger aftershock that might follow (and did not). Most important, we had both trained and rehearsed how we would react during and when the shaking stopped. As soon as the shaking stopped, we left the bed and dropped to the floor, hugging the very heavy bedposts tightly (stay out of doorways!).

After a few moments, we dragged our “earthquake” shoes out from under the bed and put them on. With no more shaking presenting itself,we got into street clothes and grabbed bedside flashlights. Fortunately, the quake did not affect the electricity, and we turned our house lights on to light our way outside.

We opened the garage door and backed both cars out ofthe garage to the driveway, leaving it open for the nexthalf-hour (just like Fire and Police folks do). We remained outdoors for ten minutes or so in the event of a large aftershock. The water in our pool rocked back and forth
while I sniffed the house perimeter for natural gas, prepared to turn it off at the main valve with the shutoff wrench I keep chained to the valve if I smelled any.

While waiting, I opened my United States Geographical Survey app on my smartphone and started receiving information: how close it was to us, and how strong. Just knowing made us feel better! After we felt comfortable the worst was over (a hunch for sure!), we re-entered the house. No damage and no messes, thanks to the childproof latches on our kitchen and bathroom cupboards; nothing had fallen to the floor. We turned on the TV and watched as the local news stations powered up and started reporting on the event. Back to bed for us!

So, let me ask you this: do you and your loved ones have an earthquake plan for how to react to an earthquake? If so, have you rehearsed it? Have you cached those materials necessary to ensure your continued health and safety?

No, you say? You had better start now! The Big One is coming!

Please join us and become prepared! It really is quite easy!

Jeff gave an excellent report at the June Board Meeting (click here) and at the Budget Study Session on August 3. Thank you for all your hard work Jeff.