Are you ready for a disaster? Just asking.

Thank you so much for all your support and love for Japan. I am always amazed and grateful for the way that people respond to others in need. Even when they themselves may be struggling.


It got me thinking about being prepared myself. In case you haven’t heard, the San Francisco Bay Area is rather prone to major earthquakes. When I told my father I was moving to the US back in 2003, he asked why I couldn’t move to Ohio or somewhere in the US that was unlikely to be hit by earthquakes, tornados or tsunamis. It doesn’t seem like a lot for a father to ask of his daughter, right? As it turns out, at this point there doesn’t really seem to be anywhere on Earth that could be construed to be always safe from everything. So… more important it seems to me is the question of readiness. It’s like that old saying, prepare for the worst but live for the best. Or something like that. Okay, fine. I googled and apparently the saying is actually- ‘Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.’ Happy? Good.


It doesn’t seem like a terrible idea. Especially after I read a few different recommendations about how to prepare and I realised how many of them seemed basically like common sense. I remember being struck by this when I did my first First Aid course… so much of it JUST makes sense. If you haven’t ever done one, you seriously should. There are many organisations out there that offer it for free or just a nominal fee. In fact, I wish that it was just taught to all children, everywhere. Along with swimming. And maybe foraging too!


Anyway, here’s some advice I found on the FEMA site, about preparing for earthquakes. There’s tons of advice about during and after as well as information about other types of disasters. Seems like earthquake is most imminent around here, so:


What to Do Before an Earthquake

Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. Repairing deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations, anchoring overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling, and following local seismic building standards, will help reduce the impact of earthquakes.

Six Ways to Plan Ahead

  1. Check for Hazards in the Home
    • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
    • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
    • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
    • Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
    • Brace overhead light fixtures.
    • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.
    • Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
    • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
    • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
  2. Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors
    • Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
    • Against an inside wall.
    • Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
    • In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.
  3. Educate Yourself and Family Members
    • Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes. Also read the “How-To Series” for information on how to protect your property from earthquakes.
    • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
    • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
  4. Have Disaster Supplies on Hand
    • Flashlight and extra batteries.
    • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
    • First aid kit and manual.
    • Emergency food and water.
    • Nonelectric can opener.
    • Essential medicines.
    • Cash and credit cards.
    • Sturdy shoes.
  5. Develop an Emergency Communication Plan
    • In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
    • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
  6. Help Your Community Get Ready
    • Publish a special section in your local newspaper with emergency information on earthquakes. Localize the information by printing the phone numbers of local emergency services offices, the American Red Cross, and hospitals.
    • Conduct a week-long series on locating hazards in the home.
    • Work with local emergency services and American Red Cross officials to prepare special reports for people with mobility impairments on what to do during an earthquake.
    • Provide tips on conducting earthquake drills in the home.
    • Interview representatives of the gas, electric, and water companies about shutting off utilities.
    • Work together in your community to apply your knowledge to building codes, retrofitting programs, hazard hunts, and neighborhood and family emergency plans.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 11-Aug-2010 14:41:19 EDT



Sorta scary but honestly, I feel better having some idea about what I might need. Even though I don’t actually know what will happen or when, it’s really comforting to know I’ll be able to say that I found out as much as I could, and then I let it go and went on with my life. You know?



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