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Do You Have An Earthquake Preparedness Plan?

Do You Have An Earthquake Preparedness Plan?

Seismic activity, typically known as tremors, earthquakes or temblors, is a naturally occurring geological event that can happen at any time. This activity/ground movement is triggered by a slip along a fault line.  Over time, stress develops within the Earth’s crust and ultimately needs to be released.  The stress release occurs as rocks abruptly slip; when that happens, the ground moves, rocking and rolling, causing the released energy to travel far and wide through the Earth’s crust, potentially causing devastation and fatalities. Currently, there is no know way to fully predict these natural events, therefore no one knows when the next potentially destructive “BIG ONE” will occur!

Because there are two geologic plates that come together in California, the state often experiences seismic activity – from small tremors that are captured by sensitive scientific equipment to ground-shaking earthquakes that everyone can feel.  One plate reaches from western California across the Pacific to Japan and the other plate includes most of North America and part of the Atlantic Ocean.  These two plates come together along the San Andreas Fault line, where the Pacific Plate pushes northwestward chugging and grinding along past the North American Plate.  While we cannot see or feel that movement, scientists have determined that the plates are creeping along slowly, but surely – close to two inches annually.  As the plates move along, some places along the San Andreas Fault system regularly experience tiny shocks and tremors.  These small tremors are caused as built up stress is released.  Research has shown that in other parts of the San Andreas Fault, stress is not regularly released.  Instead, the pressure and stress builds up over the course of several centuries, causing a mighty temblor when it is finally released.

While many people in California, and especially in the greater Los Angeles area, have heard the predictions that a BIG ONE is due sometimes in the next 20-30 years, residents often feel that there is not really much they can do ahead of time.  Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth!  If you a resident, commercial property owner, or business owner in Los Angeles, or other parts of earthquake-prone California, there are many steps that you can take to create a safer home and work environment.  The first step is to establish an “emergency” earthquake preparedness plan.

The most important step is to ensure that family members and coworkers know to “Drop, Cover and Hold” the minute they feel the ground moving.  Make sure to explain the importance to children and have them practice several times a year in different environments.  In fact, have a quick discussion and practice session at work, as well, helping everyone remain mindful of their surroundings before the earth starts to rock and roll.

Both at home and at work, be sure to secure large furniture that could easily topple over (bookshelves, cabinets, etc.) to the studs in the wall.  Consider making sure that electronic equipment (desktop computers, TVs or audio/visual components) is anchored or braced appropriately to avoid sliding or falling.  Secure overhead light fixtures so they will not come crashing down.  If possible, cabinet doors and drawers should be securely fastened.  Take the time to do a visual spot check for other non-structural measures that can be completed now to lower the possibility of personal injury or property damage before the next earthquake happens.

If you don’t already have a home emergency kit, now is the time to put one together.  (If you already have one, make sure it is updated with current supplies and information.)  Make sure your kit contains a first aid kit, multiple flashlights and a good supply of extra batteries, and a battery-powered radio.  Many people also include insurance policies, extra cash, a credit card, extra keys, and a contact list with numbers for doctors, vets, employees, and family.

Extra supplies at home and at work are always helpful.  Make sure you have more than enough extra water, along with non-perishable food and snacks for the children.  Sanitation supplies and a fire extinguisher are a must.  Consider including boots or sturdy shoes for the entire family, along with work gloves for adults.

Both at home and at work, make sure your vital records are protected.  Your most important documents should be kept either in a fire-resistant safe or in a safety deposit box.  Back up your data and software regularly, either to a separate location from your regular place of business or to a cloud storage location.  This will help ensure a quicker recovery if you have a hardware failure or experience data loss as a result of an earthquake or any other natural disaster.

As you are creating an emergency preparedness plan, check with your child’s daycare provider or school to be sure they have a current and thorough emergency preparedness plan in place.  Make sure that the plan includes regularly scheduled “Drop, Cover and Hold” practice for the children, teachers and caregivers.  Ask to attend a practice session for peace of mind.

A few final proactive steps to take include the following:

  • Determine a meeting place ahead of time, both at home and at work, where everyone should meet after the ground stops moving.
  • Make sure employees, tenants, and family members know where the nearest emergency medical facility is located.
  • Review your emergency preparedness plans with neighbors and co-workers before the next earthquake occurs, especially if you may need their help or if your help might be required after a strong earthquake occurs.

An earthquake preparedness plan is extremely important if you are a commercial property owner in the Los Angeles area.  If your property is more than twenty-five years old, now is the time to consider a seismic retrofit.  Commercial buildings constructed more than twenty-five years ago were not designed to withstand the powerful energy that is released when the Earth’s crust shifts, letting go of stress that has built up for years.  Now is the time to call the professional team at Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit; their experienced specialists are available to thoroughly inspect your commercial building and to handle the necessary maintenance issues to strengthen your building.  Create your earthquake emergency plans now and establish the best plan of action for ensuring the safety and security of your Los Angeles property.  For more information, call Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit today!

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(949) 646-0034

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