Living in active seismic zones, it is necessary for you to plan ahead and prepare whenever an earthquake may strike. Therefore, here are a few things that you should keep in mind:
1/ Emergency Bag Preparations
It has been said that “preparation is the key to success”, but in the event of an earthquake preparation is the key to safety for you and your family. Having a packed emergency bag and a planned meeting spot can ideally make a scary situation somewhat easier. This article will address the items that you should store in an emergency bag that you can quickly grab if an earthquake occurs.
First, let’s start with the essential items. Arguably the most important item you can have in your bag and your home is water. Whether it is bottled or bagged, you cannot have enough of it. Next on the list is food. In your emergency bag you can include canned food (with a can opener of course), dried fruits, and essentially anything that can be prepared solely with heat and water. Some good examples of food to include would be canned meats such as tuna, protein bars, and nuts. High protein foods keep you fuller longer so they come in handy in case of emergency. Remember that it is important to swap these items out approximately every six months. In the case that there is no electricity, a flashlight is essential so that you can more easily maneuver in the dark. In addition, having a first aid kit is extremely important if you or your loved ones were hurt in the midst or aftermath of a quake. As is the case with food and water, you should consistently replace first aid kits to be sure that the contents have not expired.
Now that you have the essentials taken care of, here are some other useful items you may want to include in your emergency bag…
|Other Useful Items|
|1. Warm clothes and Sturdy Shoes||If evenings are cold or certain areas have flooded after an earthquake, the comfort of having weather appropriate clothes and reliable shoes for yourself and your loved ones cannot be emphasized enough.|
|2. Cash||If power goes out during an earthquake ATM’s will be out of service, so having some cash stashed away could be very useful if you need to purchase more supplies.|
|3. Sleeping Bag||In the case that you are unable to stay at your own home, a sleeping bag is always good to have on hand. Based on the area you live, you may opt to purchase sleeping bag with a lower or higher temperature rating.|
|4. Cellphone Charger||Although there is a chance that there will not be power, having a charged cellphone could help you get in touch with your family and friends to make sure they are okay.|
|5. Radio||A battery powered radio can keep you updated in case of emergency.|
Although this list does not include EVERY item that you and your family might need if an earthquake occurs, it should have gotten you thinking about preparing an emergency bag and what else you would like to put in there. These simple preparations can make all the difference in a stressful situation, so don’t wait!
2/ Shake Alert- Earthquake Early Warning System
Presently, scientists and seismologists alike have been unable to predict a major earthquake (USGS.gov 2017). According to the USGS, they do not know how to predict quakes and cannot anticipate when this fact will change (https://www2.usgs.gov/faq/categories/9830/3278). This understanding is unsettling because a major earthquake could hit at any time and no one would have the slightest clue that it was coming.
To help with this issue, there is an earthquake early warning system that is being developed. The system, ShakeAlert, does not predict where or when an earthquake will occur. However, it does warn people as early as possible once the seismometers closest to the epicenter of the Earthquake detect seismic activity. For example, as was the case during a magnitude 6 earthquake in Napa, CA, warnings were sent out within 5.1 seconds to users in San Francisco (IRIS Earthquake Science). This warning notified recipients that in eight seconds the strongest shaking of the quake would occur. Eight seconds may not seem important, but those valuable eight seconds could allow sufficient time for individuals to stop and take cover.
ShakeAlert is not fully “active” yet. According to ShakeAlert.org, there are still steps that need to be taken in order for the system to be fully developed and tested. Efforts to make this system a reality are still in the works and USGS and its partners hope to continue its growth. Japan already has an advanced early warning system in place that notifies residents of earthquakes via phone, radio, and television. It quickly provides information to the residents about the whereabouts of the earthquake, its magnitude, and when the quake will arrive at their location. During one earthquake, it was estimated that Tokyo residents had nearly 80 seconds of warning before the shaking began. This early warning can allow for drivers to stop their cars, doctors to prep their patients, and so much more. Having a comparable system in California could save lives, by giving residents a chance to react, take action, and seek shelter.For more information on ShakeAlert and its progress, visit their website at www.shakealert.org.