Earthquake in Southern California – Our first 7.2

This afternoon here in San Diego we experienced our first major Earthquake. At 7.2 on the Richter Scale, it was bigger than Haiti. Thankfully building codes in Southern California are set up for this type of thing. We were about 100 miles from the epicenter and because the quake was 10 miles underground, apparently much of the force was dissipated through the earth and little structural damage occurred on the surface.

At a Sheraton hotel in downtown San Diego, the floor cracked opened and prevented the front doors from shutting. Officials ordered all guests and staff from the building, pending an inspection from structural engineers. Fire officials reported a water main break in front of a hospital and another water line break at a department store.

Within an hour of the initial quake we also experienced two major aftershocks and a few ongoing tremors.

When the first earthquake hit, I initially crouched down next to my desk. As the Earthquake started to intensify Brendan and I decided to run outside with Zoe dog. We stood in our front courtyard as the earth rolled under our feet for a couple of minutes. If you’ve even been on a boat at sea, that’s exactly how it felt. There is something very disconcerting about the Earth rolling underfoot like that. By the time the first quake was over, all our neighbours were outside and we all had a bit of a nervous laugh together. Brendan had managed to grab the car keys, our phones and some cash, but we didn’t have time for anything else. Expecting aftershocks, we moved our 72-hour emergency kit outside, just in case. Thankfully the aftershocks were not as severe, but we evacuated each time to be sure.

I don’t know what it is lately, but these earthquakes seem to keep popping up to remind us to be prepared. Over the last couple of months, I’ve written the following posts about the subject.

Being prepared for an Earthquake (or any other natural disaster) – 14 Jan 2010 after Haiti

Are You Prepared? Short Term Planning – 1 Mar 2010 after Chile

Short-Term Emergency Preparedness Kit: What to include – 15 Mar 2010 after our kit was finally complete

And now today, I bring you the latest edition after the Baja California quake. Let me assure you, I’m glad I heeded the warnings of the last couple of months. Even though we thankfully didn’t need to evacuate for long, it was a good feeling knowing that we could.

As I was searching the internet, I came across the following which seems like some good information to add to my previous posts. If you haven’t prepared for emergencies, what is stopping you?

Mental preparation. […] this is something that often gets overlooked. People know they live in earthquake country, they should know these things are going to happen. […] the main thing is to remain calm. If you’ve thought about it in advance, you’re not taken off guard.

Get to a safe spot. The biggest danger is heavy or breakable items falling on you, so if you’re in your house, get under a table or in a door jamb, etc.  […] you should know how long you’re going have to be there (usually anywhere from 30-90 seconds.) Emotionally, it might feel like longer, but it is suggested that you “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” until the shaking stops.

Be prepared to help. After the quake is over, […] you should come out and be ready to shut off natural gas supply, and go throughout the neighbors and see if anyone needs help or is hurt. “the goal is to come out of it being ready to be a caregiver, not someone who is going to be hysterical or is requiring aid.”

Prepare for infrastructure failure. One of the big ways that earthquakes hit us is through damage to infrastructure.  “We rely on electricity brought in over power lines, water and natural gas brought in by pipes, sewage taken away by pipes, etc. You probably should have in your plans that none of those things will work and we’ll be cut off from all your urban lifelines.”

Plan for three days. Make sure you have enough canned food, bottled water, candles, flashlights and batteries, to be able to sustain you and your family for about 72 hours.

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5 comments

  1. Hi Mia, glad to hear that you and Brendan (and zoe) are ok and that your preparations were in place. Even better that you didn’t need them!

    Nice to have a “dry run” so to speak to help with that mental preparation (from the list you included). I think that it is one of the most important items in preparation (and often overlooked).

  2. Arrrrgh… glad you are all ok… I’ve been camping all weekend so was none the wiser until I got your email this morning. Must be time to come home???

  3. You know what they say Mia, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane, Lenny Bruce is not afraid. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Will I be able to bring my iPad along?

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