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Earthquake Preparedness | Emergency Food Supply Kits | Emergency …

Thanks to occasional contributor Alasdair Coyne for a good recap of earthquake preparedness below. You ready?
Earthquakes are in the news, making it the best time to update our family earthquake preparedness. More people are likely to take some simple survival steps when their minds are concentrated by the recent horrendous earth shifts in Haiti and under the Pacific Ocean off Chile.
While Southern California is unlikely to suffer an 8.8 shock on the Richter scale, as occurred in Chile, a magnitude 7 quake or higher could take place any day, or any decade, right in Ventura County’s Santa Clara River valley. The San Cayetano faultline runs from Piru west along the base of the valley’s foothills, past Santa Paula and on past the east end of the Ojai Valley near Thacher School.

The San Cayetano faults slips at a quarter inch or more per year – the fastest slip rate in the lower 48 states (with one possible exception), according to geologist Robert Yeats, author of “Living with Earthquakes in California.”
A 7.5 magnitude quake on this faultline sometime after 1660 must have shaken up this area’s Chumash inhabitants. It also moved the rock and soil as much as thirteen feet to one side, sideways slippage seen in a 1999 trench excavated near Piru.
Ventura County also straddles one of the fastest uplifts of coastal deposits in the world – picture the ground beneath us moving slowly towards the sky.
Another Ventura County earthquake fault studied by Robert Yeats is estimated to have produced an 8 magnitude jolt back on Dec 21st, 1812. Its epicenter has not been definitely established – it may have been in the Santa Barbara Channel.
On the other hand, major earthquakes frequently occur on faultlines that were previously unknown or not well studied. Feeling secure?
Then there’s the well-known San Andreas fault, which is ready to produce a 6.7 magnitude quake or larger, with 99 percent certainty, sometime before 2040. The San Andreas runs east to west through the Carrizo Plains north of Ventura County, before heading further south through the eastern edge of the metropolitan population centers southeast of here. One of California’s largest known quakes may have been a 7.9 magnitude event near Fort Tejon on the Carrizo Plain back in 1857, on the San Andreas fault.
Bear in mind that the Richter Scale is logarithmic in nature – meaning that an 8.2 earthquake releases one thousand times the energy of a 6.2 earthquake.
WHEN THE SHAKING STOPS
After being thrown around your house, as may happen to you in a major quake, there are a number of important things to do right away.
First, put on sturdy shoes or boots. Make sure you know where to locate these, as broken glass may be everywhere.
Do not expect trained emergency workers to arrive – they will be overwhelmed.
Do not try to make phone calls that are not vital – landlines will likely be down, cell towers swamped with calls, or even out of action. Texting may still work.
Do not turn on any electrical switches until you make sure you do not smell gas – a tiny spark at the switch can ignite escaping gas. Turn off your gas supply at the meter, if you can smell gas. Know where your gas shut-off is, and leave a wrench attached there for emergency use.
Check for news on your car radio, or a battery-powered radio.
After you’ve checked your home, go to help others. Expect people to be trapped in any collapsed building.
Put out any fires as soon as you can.
Collect tools – they will be needed – such as saws, axes, bolt cutters, prybars, flashlights, shovels, 4×4 lumber for leverage, dust masks, work gloves, etc.
The most effective leadership is by example. Ask volunteers what skills they have – the most important are medical, group leader and construction.
DECIDE ON A DISTANT CONTACT PERSON
Communications (except for satellite phones, which are pretty expensive) after a major quake will likely be nigh on impossible. Electricity, land lines and cell towers may all be affected, and people will probably jam up whatever small fragment of our communications network is still functioning.
For this reason, you should make the minimum of calls, so that emergency workers can maintain access to open communications.
This is where a designated friend or family member, who lives out of the area, comes into the picture. After the quake, you need only to make one call – to that person. All your other family and friends, wherever they live, know who that designated person is, and they all call that person for news of you. The designated person can gather and pass on information about your immediate family – those who were at work, or on the freeway, or at school, when the quake hit.
A QUICK CHECKLIST FOR YOUR EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS SUPPLIES
Much of what you’ll need are tools and what would otherwise be camping equipment. Supplies set aside just for after an earthquake should be safely stored in a location selected for its accessibility in a disaster – not, for example, under a rickety carport. You won’t want to spend time excavating your emergency supplies from the rubble.
First Aid Kits – You’re unlikely to store too much, as many people won’t stash anything. Bandages, sterile dressings, all the usual stuff. Don’t forget to add in your prescription medicines.
Food – Canned and dried foods don’t need refrigeration and can be stored for long periods of time. You can cook on a one or two burner car-camping stove, with fuel for it set aside. Use foods from your fridge and freezer first, as they will spoil otherwise. Remember food for your animals and pets.
Water – Again, you are unlikely to store too much water, as many people won’t have any at hand. Look for 50 gallon plastic drums, and add a little less than one quarter cup of fresh liquid household bleach to each drum of water. (Granular bleach is toxic, and two-year old liquid bleach is no good.) Change the water annually. Stash water in various sizes of plastic containers, and keep a clean tube to be used to siphon from big drums to small bottles.
Other supplies – Include lots of batteries for your flashlights and your radio – it may be your main source of news for days or even weeks. Have some cash hidden away in a safe place that will be accessible – if phone lines and electricity are out for a while, credit cards will be of no use. Other useful car camping supplies include your tent, sleeping bags and pads, metal or plastic cups and plates, can opener, knife, matches, BBQ charcoal, candle lantern. A solar cooker could be very handy, as well as a solar battery charger and a “hand-crank” (no battery) radio.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
If you have a pool, or even a hot tub, a gas-powered pump attached to a fire hose would be useful investments.
Think about transportation. You may have to get home, so stash some food, water, sturdy shoes, a blanket and first aid in each car. If trees, buildings and bridges are down all over the place, a working bicycle (and tire repair kit) will still provide you with a reliable way to get around. Having a can or two of gasoline (changed frequently so as to be fresh, or with “long life” additive in it) would allow you to drive your car a little if roads are cleared before gas stations are back in operation.
A chainsaw would be handy to clear fallen trees near your home. Remember also that aftershocks can themselves worsen the damage. Bear them in mind. And don’t forget tsunami hazards if you live near the ocean.
FURTHER REFERENCE
“Living With Earthquakes in California – A Survivor’s Guide,” by Robert Yeats, an expert on Ventura County’s shifting geology.
“Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country,” by Peter Yanev, describes how to strengthen your home and other structures.
Earthquake Preparedness” by Libby Lafferty can be ordered at bookstores, or online.
SOS Survival Products – (800) 479-7998. www.sosproducts.com SOS provides supplies to prepare you for after the earthquake.
www.quakehold.com provides earthquake preparedness supplies to help you secure things around your home from earthquake damage. Most of their products can be ordered from your local hardware store. Quake wax can be used to hold valuable items onto the shelves where they’re located.
www.earthquakestore.com has fasteners to use in your home, to secure furniture and cupboards, etc. They also carry automatic earthquake shut-off valves for your main gas supply line.
www.redcross.org has earthquake safety information that can be found by following the link “Preparedness Fast Facts”, under the “Preparing and Getting Trained” section on their homepage.

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