Feb 23 2010

Earthquakes!

Published by under Health and Safety

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?

12 responses so far




12 Responses to “Earthquakes!”

  1.   Gabriellaon 23 Feb 2010 at 10:26 am

    Hi Lauri,

    Your experience must have been terrible for you; it’s inherently scary when you are alone when an earthquake starts, but with two little children in a house, what a nightmare! Fortunately nobody was injured.
    I’ve never been in an earthquake, but to be honest I’m afraid of them. You can read a lot about what to do and what not, but at the end your feelings will sometimes let you do the opposite. I am not well prepared for a situation like this, I guess; of course I have bottles of water which I usually have, my small apartment is not full with furniture and I have less flatware, so this wouldn’t be that dangerous. However, I do not have any flashlights with extra batteries or a radio which works with batteries. I think, It would be a good investment. I don’t like food in cans, however, for an emergency situation they are really helpful. Next time I go to a grocery store I will buy some and hope I will never need them

  2.   xyliaon 23 Feb 2010 at 10:39 am

    I haven’t been in an earthquake before. I didn’t know how to prepare for an earthquake before I came to San Francisco. When I got here I saw my mother stores some bottles of water in each room. And keeps the flashlights with batteries and puts them in each corner. I think my mother has done everything to prepare for an earthquake at home. I’m thinking maybe I should put my passport and some important stuff into a bank safe deposit box in case I lose everything after an earthquake

  3.   Laurion 27 Feb 2010 at 12:15 am

    I’d certainly suggest having some flashlights and a radio around the house. Even if there isn’t an earthquake, sometimes there is a power outage. It is really difficult to manage at night without electricity. We have a lot of flashlights in our house.

  4.   Laurion 27 Feb 2010 at 12:17 am

    Hopefully there won’t be any big earthquakes around here anytime soon. The little ones are a little scary, but they are over fast. It sounds like your mother is really prepared!

  5.   Mahaon 01 Mar 2010 at 10:42 am

    Hi Lauri,

    I was in an earthquake in my country 15 years ago and it was difficult and scary too; however, it wasn’t like yours because my children were at school and they were older than yours.

    On that day, when I came back from my work i heard a terrible sound and I saw every single thing in the house was moving. At first I didn’t recognize what was happening. I received a phone call from my mother-in-law telling me that it was an earthquake and she advised me to go out of the house. In a few minutes I ran out. Regarding the stuff we have to prepare for the earthquakes, I think food, water, flashlights and a radio with batteries are the most important things we have to keep.
    I hope that we don’t have any large earthquakes as hard as I had again.

  6.   Ibtisamon 01 Mar 2010 at 11:11 am

    Dear Lauri,
    I haven’t had any experience about earthquakes before, and I have never prepared for such a situation. I will admit that I won’t prepare for that because maybe I don’t believe that will be so beneficial if an earthquake happens.

  7.   betty chenon 01 Mar 2010 at 11:12 am

    Dear Lauri:
    Your experience must have been terrible for you. It’s inherently scary when you are alone when an earthquake starts, but with two little kids in a house, if I were you I would have been scared like a nightmare! Fortunately nobody was injured. I have never been in an earthquake, like Chile, Tangshan. Little earthquakes I have had experience with, and another mudslide. I hope I have a lucky chance not to meet it.

  8.   Judyon 01 Mar 2010 at 12:00 pm

    This year we have heard the tragic news that 6.5 and 9.2 magnitude earthquakes struck in Haiti and in Chile.
    Then all of a sudden, these disasters resulted in tremendous damage in our neighboring countries. The media says about 200,000 people in Haiti and about 700 in Chile were already killed. How miserable and vulnerable we are in front of natural phenomenon! That is why I am so scared. I have only experienced a few weak earthquakes. As long as I live in San Francisco, we are not safe from earthquakes. So I prepared a big emergency pack that includes energy bars, canned food, a can opener, flashlights, cash, photo albums, a radio, bottled water, insurance, passports, some medicine, matches, batteries, towels, light blankets and toilet paper. My husband taught me how to turn off the gas and a water valves in case of an earthqake or flood or fire. My husband also collected a tank of water in the garage.
    I think we cannot prevent natural disasters, but earthquake or fire preparations are the best way to decrease damage from them.

  9.   Laurion 01 Mar 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I think your lists of important things is a good one. Earthquakes can be really scary.

  10.   Laurion 01 Mar 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Well, I can understand why you might not believe preparations would be useful. In fact, the usefulness is not during the earthquake. There isn’t much you can do then. The usefulness is after the earthquake is finished, if the power goes out, or the water gets cut off. If you don’t have a battery-operated radio, you won’t know what’s going on. If you don’t have flashlights when it gets dark, you won’t be able to see. If you don’t have anything to eat or drink, you might have some trouble with that too.

  11.   Laurion 01 Mar 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Oh, did you have experience with a mudslide before? I have heard of problems with hillsides coming down in heavy rains, but I haven’t really seen something like that in person.

  12.   Laurion 01 Mar 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I think you will win the prize for the most prepared person! I hope you never get to use your emergency pack, but if you need it, you will be glad you have it.

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