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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: ABCs of the SCV: Q is for Quake | 06-01-2013
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The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Jun 1, 2013

JenniferFischerI was a bit worried about getting to the letter Q in my ABCs of Santa Clarita. Q is a tricky one, but then I realized that Q is for Quake – no, not like Quaker Oats, but rather “quake” as in Earthquake.

I have not yet experienced a major earthquake since moving to Southern California in 2004, only minor ones. But I know a big one can happen at any time, and being prepared is important. For comprehensive tips on preparing for an earthquake and what to do during and after an earthquake, visit www.ready.gov/earthquakes.

My husband recently completed his training to be part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Val Verde where we live (it is a small community in the SCV that is near Castaic, in case you are not familiar with it).

What we took away from his experience is the importance of staying calm in emergency situations, which is perhaps one of the hardest things to do. He also passed some other simple tips along to me, like the importance of dropping to the ground if there is an earthquake, getting under something solid and then holding on.

I would have thought a doorway would be good, but that is not the case, as doorways are not considered safe, and it is best to stay away from anything that could fall, such as windows, doorways, lighting fixtures, furniture, etc. If outdoors, get to an open area and stay there.

Ready.gov has these tips if you are in a vehicle during an earthquake: Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires. Once the earthquake has stopped, avoid roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

I did not realize the danger that can come from aftershocks, but I learned that aftershocks often lead to deaths. For example, bridges have been known to collapse following the aftershocks of a quake, rather than immediately during or after the earthquake itself.

Ready.gov also provides this useful information. You can text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 91384 is texted to 43362 to find the nearest Castaic shelter).

Earthquakes often affect utilities, too, so be prepared for power outages, and drive carefully because traffic lights may be out (and, again, avoid bridges). It is recommend by ready.gov that individuals check their utilities or have them checked, since there may be gas leaks, water or sewage damage, and electrical damage following an earthquake. Also, be aware of fires that may have been caused by the earthquake. Fire is actually one of the most common hazards following an earthquake.

Finally, if you know you have a neighbor who is elderly, ill or has trouble getting around or who may need special assistance, check in on that neighbor to see if he needs help or if you need to call for additional help. This type of neighborly act can make a real difference.

Again, I stress that for complete tips on preparing for an earthquake and what to do during and after an earthquake, visit www.ready.gov/earthquakes. Plus, they have a page devoted to helping kids feel prepared and safe for any emergency situation, including involving kids in making a family plan. You can find this at http://www.ready.gov/kids.

The biggest thing my husband took away from CERT was the importance of being prepared. So, join me in getting your family prepared in the case of an emergency.

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

 

 

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