Earthquake Safety is on my Mind: Foster City CA

It’s hard to believe that it was 20 years ago when Loma Prieta struck its fist above the earth and caused many deaths, fires, and fear throughout the region.  Anyone who lived through it can tell you exactly what they were doing when it hit.  It’s the last time our two baseball teams were in the World Series together, too.  Perhaps we should keep that in mind when wishing for another Bay Bridge World Series!

This is a good time to remind you about earthquake safety.  If you think this subject isn’t worth your time reading about, let me show you what can happen with a severe quake, the kind they’re anticipating again in the Bay Area. Much of this area is subject to liquefaction so pay attention. This kind of damage happens in an instant and we may, once again, be without power for a while so it’s important to have a safety kit handy.

The apartment building shown here, courtesy of the Merced Sun Star, was once 3 stories high with garage space under the first floor.  A typical building found throughout San Francisco even today.  Fire, collapse, and devastation were what was left.

How can you prevent this?  You can’t.  If you want to live in the Bay Area, this is Earthquake Country.  In fact, the entire west coast is earthquake prone so there’s really no place to go to avoid it if you want to live here.

I’ve certainly written about earthquakes over the year, always around anniversary times either in April or October.  Here’s something to help you with pet safety and here’s something on what to do to protect yourself and your family for the few days after the quake. And, whether you should buy earthquake insurance.  I’ve written about the Great Quake of 1906 in San Francisco, too.  It’s a subject near and dear to my heart, so please take note I’m serious about this subject

This subject is serious business and one that you should not ignore.  Get some simple supplies in a large container and make sure that container is easy to reach, just in case your home collapses during the quake.  Inside that box should be the following:

  1. Fresh water (enough for 3 days)
  2. Food that doesn’t require refrigeration or heat
  3. Canned juices
  4. Dried foods and milk if you have children
  5. Food bars – protein bars are the best
  6. Toilet paper
  7. Paper Towels
  8. Tissues
  9. A First Aide Kit
  10. Blankets
  11. Pet food if you have pets
  12. Emergency blankets
  13. Can opener (manual)
  14. Emergency radio – either wind up or one that requires batteries and if you use batteries make sure they’re fresh
  15. Flash lights
  16. Matches
  17. Rubber gloves
  18. Sanitizing wipes
  19. Dust masks
  20. A roll of Plastic sheeting or a small tent
  21. Duct tape
  22. Electrical tape
  23. Pet containers nearby for your pet’s safety
  24. Gas wrench for turning off your gas line should you smell gas. DO NOT do this unless you smell gas because it will take PG&E a while to turn it back on if you didn’t need to do this.
You can make this kit or buy it.  eHow has instructions here.  There are many companies who sell them at fairly reasonable price.  Google earthquake safety kits and you’ll see many options.  What ever you do, rotate your supplies frequently.  Rotate the food and water and batteries every few months.  Have cash handy since ATM’s will likely not be working and cash will be king during an emergency.  If you can afford it, stow $100 somewhere that you can reach easily.
It’s also a good idea to stow an extra pair of shoes and warm jackets in the truck of your car along with a smaller version of the kit.  We never know what time of day, or night, a quake can strike and it’s important to be able to survive.  Keep a blanket in your car, too.
Have a safety plan in place for your family if you are not together when it happens.  Who will be the telephone point person that everyone can check in with?  Make that person someone who doesn’t live locally.  Be sure to have some kind of charger for your cell phones, too.  Phones will be down and if you only use a cell phone text people your where abouts.
Anniversaries of events are always good reminders for taking precautions.  If you’re new to the Bay Area ask any one you know who was here in 1989 about the quake and you’ll hear many stories and do ask if they sustained damage to their home.  Take some time to lay out a game plan and you will likely be just fine.  It’s generally not the original quake that gets you, it’s all of the after shocks.  These two houses were in the Santa Cruz area, closest to the epicenter where much damage occurred.
Courtesy of KPIX-TV CBS5

AP Photo San Francisco Chronicle, John O'Hara

Moving? Know the value of your home …