July 4, 2019 marked the day in California as the day we rocked and rolled due to a significant 6.4 Earthquake centered in Ridgecrest California. Some say this was the precursor for “The Big One.” Little did they know that the very next day would be the largest U.S. Earthquake recorded in over 20 years. The 7.1 earthquake that occurred on July 5, 2019 was felt by residences throughout California, and as far away as Phoenix, Arizona and Mexicali, Mexico. Fortunately, there was very little structural damage and injuries as a result from 2 very significant earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks.
So what does this all mean? Are you and your family prepared for the next earthquake? I was on duty as a paramedic in the Los Angeles area when the 1994 Northridge earthquake occurred, and I can tell you I was not prepared for what occurred then. It was definitely an eye opener of what needed to change for my family’s preparation. Cell towers were down and the local phone lines were so busy that I was not able to communicate with my parents who were 3 miles form the epicenter or with my wife, in Bakersfield, for about 3 days. My family had no idea if I was okay and I didn’t know if they were okay. I was on duty for 5 days running calls from house to house because the 9-1-1 dispatch was so busy. We just roamed the area to offer help as needed until the system was back up, which took a couple days.
There are a number of resources that you can turn to for an Earthquake preparedness checklist for you and your family. Some are Red Cross, FEMA along with county and city fire departments. Below I will provide a basic list that you can use at both your place of work and home. Some things to keep in consideration is that you may be at work when “The Big One” hits. Employers should have an earthquake plan. This plan should include how to keep the employees safe at work along with allowing the employees to be able to communicate with their families after an earthquake.
There are several things to be aware of and think about during a major earthquake. The biggest concern is that power and water may be unavailable for a couple of days to weeks—or more. The goal is to have enough food, water and resources to last for 2 weeks at a time to cover you for a worse case scenario. Look around your home and think about your resources … Do you have a swimming pool that can be used as a water source? Do you have an RV? Is the RV fully stocked with food, water, extra clothes, fuel and/or propane? Do you own a generator? Does everyone in your family know where and how to turn off the gas and watervalves? Do you have extra drinking water available? Since most local landline and cellular phones will be too busy to use after an earthquake… Do you have a family member or friend out of state or country that can be the main point of contact so everyone can check in?
Most kids are taught at school what to do in case of an earthquake, but do they know what to do at home?
These are just a few things to think about and discuss with your family or employer. Remember, that if you live in California, there is a good chance that you will be involved in an Earthquake!!! Are you and your family ready?