Feb 23 2010
Earthquakes can be pretty scary, but since we live in San Francisco, we have to be prepared for them. Normally the earthquakes we get are not too large, and are over pretty quickly. I will admit that I don’t always follow the advice about what to do in an earthquake. If you are in bed, you are supposed to stay there and cover your head, but I often run to the doorway. I think standing in the doorway was an old suggestion, based on pictures of houses that had survived earthquakes, and although parts of the houses had fallen down, you could see the doorways were still standing. Nowadays, people seem to recommend getting under a strong table or desk instead. I still run for the doorway, but you are supposed to be careful you don’t get hit by the door!
After many years of doorway running, or sitting and wondering if it was really an earthquake, I was here for the last big one in 1989. It was called the Loma Prieta earthquake, and it happened on October 17. My younger kids were two years old and five years old at that time. The younger one was upstairs taking a nap in his crib. When the earthquake started, I was on the telephone and the TV was on. I dropped the phone and went to the doorway, like I always did. However, this time was different. Instead of standing up in the doorway, I had to sit down. I put my five-year-old son in front of me and I held on to the side of the wall with both hands, because the house was rocking a lot. I heard things falling down, and a big crash from upstairs. I was very worried about the baby, because he was upstairs too. As soon as the earthquake finished, I ran upstairs to see what made the big crashing sound. My dresser had fallen over right next to my son’s crib. It didn’t touch the crib, though, and he slept through the whole thing.
I was very relieved to see everything was okay with him. The electricity was off, the water in the fish bowls sloshed out all over the floor, and when my husband came home, he said that he had been driving at the time, and had stopped because he thought he had a flat tire. Everyone else thought the same thing, and had stopped too. We were very lucky, but it made us think about earthquakes again. After that, we hired an engineer and had our house “earthquake-proofed.” They connected the house to the foundation, tied the water heater, put in some extra poles, etc. There is, of course, no guarantee that nothing will happen, but we try to be prepared.
There are some suggestions on different websites about things you should have on hand in case there is an earthquake. These include food, water, flashlights with batteries, a radio with batteries, and so on. I gave you a worksheet yesterday that talked about some of these things. What things have you done to prepare yourself? What things do you think you should do? Have you been in an earthquake in San Francisco or in another country? How bad was it? What did you do?