There was yet another ham-fisted reminder last week that we live in a volatile place, on ground that is frequently in motion.
Alaskans near Anchorage were lucky, in a way, because the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that caused significant damage, and frightened the daylights out of a lot of folks, resulted in few injuries.
It’s an important reminder for those of us living on the Central Coast, which is veined with fault lines.
Think Reseda, which was the epicenter of the 1994 Northridge quake that struck just before dawn, lasted about 15 seconds, killed 57 people, injured nearly 9,000, and resulted in about $50 billion in property damage.
Lots of folks up this way felt the Northridge event. It bounced some locals out of bed, giving Santa Barbarans an opportunity to watch a rolling blackout that began down the coast.
Earthquakes are among our anticipated natural disasters. We know they happen. We know that, eventually, one will rattle us because it happens fairly often. So here, once again, is some sound advice from experts:
Quakes usually come in two forms. If it’s a biggie, you may hear a roaring or rumbling sound that gets louder. You could get a rolling sensation that starts gently and within a second or two gets violent. Or, you may feel a violent jolt, soon followed by shaking severe enough to make it difficult to stand up or move around.
Knowing this to be a distinct possibility, the key to survival and/or reducing your risk of serious injury can be summarized in the Three Ps — preparation, planning and practice. We checked several online sites and the most easy-to-understand advice came from the Centers for Disease Control.
The preparation part starts with you collecting emergency supplies, including any and all necessary medications, a first-aid kit, enough non-perishable food and water to last three days or more. In other words, get your stuff in order for taking quick action.
The planning element involves the whole family. Discuss evacuation plans and routes if escaping becomes necessary. Determine a common meeting place if family members get separated. Make sure everyone understands the overall strategy.
The practice part is just like the fire drills at your school or office. Do some role-playing so everyone knows where to go and what to do. Make sure all your important documents are in a safe place. This practice only takes a few minutes and can be fun — and it could help save your life and the lives of loved ones.
Now that you’re all set, what’s the plan when the shaking starts? Here are the CDC’s recommendations:
Drop onto your hands and knees before the earthquake can knock you down. This position protects you from falling but still allows you to move to avoid falling debris.
Cover your head and neck — and your entire body if possible — under the shelter of a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall or next to low-lying furniture that won't fall on you, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands. Stay away from windows or glass that could shatter.
Hold on to your cover, or to your head and neck, until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your cover if the shaking shifts it around.
All commonsense stuff, when you really think about it, but the problem is a lot of folks don’t give it much thought — until it’s too late.