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Volume III
January 13, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Surviving and Earthquake

By Patty Liston

When the Loma Prieta earthquake hit California years ago - I was there. Outside. Talking with my neighbor. Californians get used to the tremors that would occasionally "rock our world" from time to time. During these short bursts of energy, I would hold on to something, count to 5, and the tremors would stop. But on this particularly lovely autumn day, the tremors continued and the earth groaned. While my neighbor clung to her porch pillar, I grabbed my little boy who was playing on the front yard. As we sat down on the grass, I reassured him that everything was going to be okay; even as I felt the earth undulating beneath me. I counted a very long time that day.

These shifts in the fault lines are no longer reserved for California. Last year saw an earthquake in Colorado, and one that started in Virginia, and shook an area from South Carolina to Boston. As someone who was interviewed in one of these unlikely quake areas said, "We're just waiting for the plague of locusts."

During these seasons of odd weather and strange twists of Mother Nature, it would do us well to review some ideas that may help us get through an earthquake


1. Don't run outside. Bricks, glass, and other materials will be falling... and you don't want to be under any of it.

2. Don't stand in a door way unless your house was built in the 50's. Homes today have door frames that aren't any stronger than other areas of your home.

3. Don't run around because shaking will cause you to fall and possibly hurt yourself.

DO (Taken from

1. DROP down onto your hands and knees (before the earthquake knocks you down). This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.

2. COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, only then should you get down near an interior wall (or next to low-lying furniture that won't fall on you), and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.

3. HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.

Other Considerations:

1. If you are outside, get away from power lines, trees, and buildings.

2. If you are on the road, drive away from bridges, underpasses/overpasses and stay in your car.

3. If you are asleep in bed put a pillow over your head. The advice is not to get out of bed and risk falling or being hit with flying debris. Believe it or not, research has shown that people who stayed in their beds fared better than those who got out and started running.

4. Have your 72 hour kit in an area where they can be reached, such as on a hook by a door.

5. Stay CALM. Others will be looking to you for reassurance. Give it to them.

After the Quake

1. Don't go back into your home, especially if the quake has been severe. Aftershocks can be as strong as the original quake, which could bring compromised structures down around you.

2. Check for any injuries in those people who are around you. Provide as much attention and reassurance as possible. Remember that your clothes will make good compresses/bandages and shoelaces and belts can become tourniquets

3. Do a safety check: gas, water, sewage breaks, downed electrical lines, deep cracks in homes and buildings which would be dangerous in an after-shock.

4. Turn on your emergency radio and listen for instructions from your public safety agency.

5. Try not to use the telephone. Emergency crews will need to get through to coordinate efforts. Try to keep the lines open for them.

6. Wear shoes, wear shoes, wear shoes. If the quake happens at night, keep slippers by your bed. Keep shoes in your 72 hour kit. See my article on that.

I truly hope that none of us ever has to put these suggestions to use. However, should the shaking begin, this information should help us feel a little more prepared: and this is what Patty's Preparedness Corner is all about.

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