Friday, March 02, 2007

4.2 Near Lafayette

Yesterday evening a 4.2 earthquake struck Lafayette, CA about 35 miles from our house. It was a relatively unknown fault called the Reliez Valley Fault. I was at home and Phil and the kids were in the car, driving home from the bookstore.

As often happens during less intense earthquakes, the people in the car did NOT feel a thing.

However, I was sitting at home, watching The Office. It is my favorite program, even though it was a repeat.

All at once I felt a swoop, like the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (and I oughta know, I rode it twice on our trip).

Just a nice, gentle rock. But the thing was, I was no longer at Disneyland. Hm.

Since a truck had been backing up outside (I heard the beeps) my first thought was that the truck had hit something so hard it had vibrated our house. (I later realized that was sort of a dumb thought since I had not heard a crash at all!) The chandelier waved a bit. Hm. Stranger still. This all happened in about two seconds. Suddenly there was another tremor and I realized: EARTHQUAKE!

I became scared there would be another jolt and so I rushed over to the doorframe between the dining room and kitchen and stood there. I had been told that that is the safest place to stand in a quake.

As it turns out, this was wrong too. Here's a link to an article by builder, Don Pearson, about why the doorway may NOT be the safest place, and may actually put you in MORE peril.

The USGS states in their booklet, "Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country," that this myth originated when many people owned old, unreinforced adobe structures with wooden doorframes. After an earthquake, these doorways were often the only part of the structure left standing. However, this was true back in the early days of our state. This is no longer the case for most of us so the rule of thumb is DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON!

After about thirty seconds, nothing more happened, so I went and sat back down again, feeling stupid and not entirely sure it even WAS a quake until I saw the news.

Not everyone felt a calm, gentle, "ride-like" quake. Lots of people felt jolts and heard 'pops.' As for damages, the worst I heard was some guy's 200-gallon aquarium fell from the wall and shattered, ruining his floor and killing his fish. You know, at least it was not this.

(That, of course, is I-880 after Loma Prieta)

A relatively small quake like this is a great reminder though.

Do you know this "relatively unknown" fault passes right under BART?

Are you prepared for a quake that cuts you off from humanity for an unspecified time?

Are you prepared to be cut off for AT LEAST 72 hours in case of an earthquake?

Do you have a fully stocked kit of survival supplies, food and water?

How about your car? Are both cars stocked with emergency supplies?

If you are like me, you don't like to think about this stuff. You don't really want to go to Target and one by one pick out survival supplies. It's a very freaky feeling. Here is my advice.

Go to Google, look up "earthquake kit," and order a kit for your family. Here is where we got ours. Yes, it will be more expensive. But you will NOT have to worry again. And you will be sure you have all right stuff, like a space blanket, water purifier, and other stuff you are just not going to find at Target.

Then, each time you go to the store for the next three times, pick up two gallons of water and a family pack of granola bars. Put them next to the earthquake kit.

Now you're done.

With one important caveat.

If you have someone in your family with diabetes, keep prescriptions filled at all times. You may want to do what I do. After seeing Katrina I began to hoard expired insulin. I now have a giant Ziploc of expired insulin on my fridge carefully marked when the bottle expired. In a horrid lengthy emergency, we SHOULD have enough insulin to get by... but JUST IN CASE, we have this less-than-potent insulin. While it is not approved for use after it expires, you can bet it would be better than nothing.

Also, please make sure you purchase a Frio kit. We may be without power for 72 hours or more after a major earthquake. Please get a kit to keep your insulin cold. All you need is water to activate the kit. They are great for vacations and car trips too!

Everyone, stay safe and secure! Do what the Girl Scouts do, BE PREPARED!