by Lani Tunzi
The two earthquakes in July were the biggest in 20 years, which means they are the biggest earthquakes I have ever experienced.
Having grown up during an earthquake drought, I always thought of snowstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes that regularly wreak havoc in the rest of the country as more frightening than earthquakes.
But after the recent 6.4 and 7.1 quakes in Ridgecrest shook things up here in Eagle Rock, 125 miles from the epicenter – and after the more than 100 aftershocks in Southern California at 4 or higher – I find myself paying more attention to talk about the long overdue “Big One.” Probabilities surrounding the San Andres fault predict that an 8-magnitude quake is essentially inevitable sometime in the next 30 years.
It’s never fun to imagine the worst-case scenarios in life. But reminders of the Big One are also reminders to be prepared. I feel some personal relief in knowing that if I’m at school when it happens, I’ll have some time to take cover. That’s because Eagle Rock High is the first school in the L.A. Unified School District to have an earthquake early-warning system. Upon activation, the system plays a recorded announcement over the public address system, warning of the incoming turbulence.
But what if I am not at school? And what about you? The only answer is to be prepared. See the box below for 10 steps to take before, during and after a quake.
Lani Tunzi will be in the 12th grade next year at Eagle Rock High School.
10 Steps to Earthquake Safety
BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE
1. Secure your place: Identify hazards and secure moveable items.
2. Plan to be safe: Create a disaster plan and decide how you will communicate in an emergency.
3. Organize disaster supplies in a convenient place.
4. Minimize financial hardship: Organize important documents, strengthen your property and consider insurance.
DURING THE EARTHQUAKE
5. Drop, cover and hold on when the earth shakes.
6. Improve safety: When shaking stops, evacuate if necessary, help the injured and prevent further injuries or damage.
AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE
7. Check Areas: If it’s safe, check for gas leaks, water leaks, broken electrical wiring and broken sewage lines. If there is damage, turn the utility off at the source and immediately report gas leaks to your utility.
8. Stay Clear: Stay away from downed power lines and warn others to stay away. AVOID GAS. Do Not attempt to turn gas back on once you have turned off the gas. The line must be thoroughly inspected by the gas company. Call the gas company for assistance.
9. Public Safety: Cooperate fully with public safety officials and follow instructions. AVOID DRIVING. Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency.
10. Aftershocks: Be prepared for aftershocks. Stay calm and help others. If you evacuate, leave a message at your home saying where you can be found.