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Preparation key to earthquake safety

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Jesse Evans
Staff Writer

Michael Phillips
Copy Editor

The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan has served as a wake-up call for California residents wondering when and where the next “big one” might happen, and how best to prepare.

There are many ways to stay safe in the next big one by being ready before, during and after the earthquake.

“I am ready for the next big earthquake,” sophomore speech communications major Sam French said. “I feel that we are long overdue for one.”

For those less confident in their earthquake preparedness, the American Red Cross offers the following earthquake safety tips

• Choose a safe place in every room, under a sturdy table or desk or against an inside wall where nothing can fall on you.

• Practice drop, cover, and hold on at least twice a year.

• Drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm.

• Choose an out-of-town family contact.

Before the event, people should be familiar with the fire escape plans for their home and office buildings, and they should practice the appropriate fire drills and exit procedures, the Red Cross says.

Homeowners should make sure that their home is securely attached to its foundation. They should bolt or brace the following items: water and gas heaters, bookcases, china cabinets, tall furniture and overhead lighting. And they should know how to shut off gas valves.

“The top three things people should do are to get a kit, make a plan and be informed,” said Monica Diaz, communications director for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.

The emergency kit should be stored in an easily accessible location.

It should contain a minimum of three days supply worth of food and water and the expiration of the items in the kit should be checked every six months.

“I know that I am supposed to go in a doorway and get away from all windows and anything that could possibly fall on me,” sophomore business administration major Devon Michaels said. “At home I have a whole earthquake preparedness poster and emergency kit.”

As for places to avoid: “The worst buildings to be in are in downtown (La Verne) because of the unreinforced masonry concrete blocks,” said University of La Verne Professor of Biology Jay Jones.

Unreinforced masonry walls are ones in which the masonry walls rely on the strength of masonry units.

Also the area of reinforcement is less than 25 percent of the minimum ratio required by the building code for reinforced masonry.

The strongest building structures are those with reinforced steel filled in with concrete.

“It has to encase the concrete in such a way that the rebar will contain the fragments,” Jones said.

The buildings in downtown La Verne, on the other hand, do not have to adhere to the same standards as newer buildings that have a higher standard for earth quake safety.

A building’s structure is an important component to how it responds to an earthquake, partly because earthquake energy is released in brief periodic waves rather than singular long waves.

In the United States there is a National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program that creates standards, and voluntary consensus codes for reducing earthquake hazards.

Once you are positive the shaking has stopped the Red Cross recommends that you exit the building if it is safe.

If you do this, make sure to use the stairs instead of an elevator in case of aftershocks.

If you happen to be outside during an earthquake find a nice clear open space and drop and cover on the ground.

Stay away from power lines, buildings, streetlamps and trees.

After you feel that an earthquake has stopped, keep in mind that it might not be over.

There are chances of aftershocks, tsunamis and landslides.

For more safety tips, visit

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