Shakes Alive!

September 23, 2012

California is the most beautiful and dynamic state in the country, but there are downsides to living here, too. Drought, fire, flood – and earthquakes! Longtime Town residents are sure to remember the disruption and loss of life from the 1989 Loma Prieta ‘quake, which measures 6.9 on the Richter scale, and are probably familiar with the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles. Of course, the most famous California earthquake of all time was the devastating 7.9 earthquake that devastated San Francisco and the surrounding region back in 1906.

Why do we mention this uncomfortable fact? Because earthquakes are going to come on their own schedule, and while there’s nothing we can do to stop them, there’s actually quite a lot we can do to prepare for them – to stay safe during, and to recover quicker and easier after them. It’s with these goals in mind that the ‘Earthquake Country Alliance’ – a group of regional earthquake preparedness organizations – has been organizing The Great California ShakeOut for the past few years. This year is the fifth anniversary of the event, and organizers hope that even more people than the 8.6 million who participated last year join in this year.

This year’s statewide earthquake drill will be held at 10:18 AM on October 18, 2012. At that moment, according to the Shake Out’s website, you should: “wherever you are at that moment—at home, at work, at school, anywhere—you should Drop, Cover, and Hold On as if there were a major earthquake occurring at that very moment, and stay in this position for at least 60 seconds.” Drop, Cover, and Hold On is the current advice for what to do during an earthquake for your best chances of safety.

It goes on to say, “There will not be any freeway closures, power outages, or other simulated effects of the hypothetical earthquake, unless your local government or utility company specifically notifies you about something of this nature. The Shake Out is not something you need to leave work to participate in—in fact, participating at work is encouraged!”

Your family or workplace can register here to learn more and be counted in this year’s Shake Out. In addition to individuals, families, community groups, and business participating, local governments of course need to prepare for earthquakes – it’s the responsible thing to do. As of this writing, the Town of Woodside isn’t registered to participate in this year’s Shake Out. They have participated in the past. We hope they’ll decide it’s important to take part again this year!

Besides practicing what to do during an earthquake, it’s a very good idea to practice what to do in the aftermath. Recently during a Town COWncil meeting, it was casually mentioned that it could take TEN days or more for electric power to be restored to Woodside in the event of a major outage. Families need to be prepared with food, water, and medical supplies to be self- and neighborhood-sufficient for at least several days as our roads might well be impassable right after an earthquake.

Luckily, Woodside has two excellent organizations devoted to emergency safety. We encourage all residents to investigate the excellent information available on the Woodside Fire Protection District’s website and to consider getting involved with and trained by CERPP, Citizens Emergency Response Preparedness Program, a group made up of your friends and neighbors dedicated to responding to major emergencies in and around Woodside.

Prepare and stay safe, COWs!

For information on preparedness, go here.

For the curious, here is a map of Northern California fault zones.

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