Prepare yourself for the “Big One”

BY LUIS E. CASTELLANOS & ALEXIA MERSOLA 

STAFF WRITERS

Photo courtesy of AP Images.

The Coachella Valley has had its share of earthquakes recently given its proximity to the San Andreas fault. Seismologists are hoping the supposed “Big One” doesn’t happen. Southern California has been long overdue by over 300 years. Scientists have stated in the past that if smaller earthquakes occur, the pressure is released from the fault line and lessens the impact for when the “Big One” actually comes. Because we are not seismologists and have no idea when the “Big One” will actually hit, the Red Cross of America has a few tips for everyone on how to be prepared before, during and after the earthquake in your area.

Earthquakes are sudden and unexpected, it is almost impossible to truly be prepared for one emotionally but you can be prepared physically if you follow these guidelines. First off, even though earthquakes may not occur on a regular basis in your area, it’s important to understand that earthquakes are happening all the time, even if you can’t personally feel them. According to the United States Geographical Survey (USGS),  we have hundreds of  2.0 magnitude or below earthquakes on average worldwide. Being prepared can save you and your families life, so taking precautions on a daily is important for safety. The top tips the Red Cross can give any individual or family who wants to be safe during a natural disaster such as earthquakes are:

  • Practice DROP, COVER and HOLD ON with all members of your household
  • Doorways are no stronger than any other part of a structure so don’t rely on them for protection! During an earthquake, get under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on.

Discussing earthquakes with your family is important, pretending that they don’t exist or occur will not save you in the end. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear especially in young children. It helps to pick safe places in your home, workplace and/or school. What qualifies as a safe place is normally a piece of sturdy furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.

Radio access is equally important in situations like this, and although radio isn’t really used for entertainment purposes anymore, it can be used to easily access National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio broadcasts. To protect your fur babies who are like family, it is best to create a pet emergency kit in addition to an emergency kit for your own family. For more information on what you should place in your kit, accessing the Red Cross website for more information will give you a full list of things you may need. After the disaster it is important to check in with authorities immediately and listening for evacuation routes is important. Check yourself for injuries and get to first aid if needed. Prepare for aftershocks as they normally follow shortly after and if you live near the coast move to higher ground to stay clear of tsunamis. Earthquakes will change your life forever if no precautions are taken, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

For more information visit www.redcross.org.

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