Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the historic Northridge earthquake, a magnitude 6.7 quake that rocked the Southland and left 57 people dead, more than 5,000 injured and generated more than $20 billion in property damage in it’s wake.  It happens to fall in the same week that three area quakes rocked the City, including a magnitude 3.6 earthquake this past Wednesday centered just 7.7 miles west-south-west of the city.  With the recent tremors and the anniversary of one of the most memorable Southern California earthquakes in recent decades, we felt now would be the time to help remind Corona residents on the importance of being prepared.  To help, we’ve compiled some tips from FEMA, USGS, and other resources to help you and your family to stay safe in the event of a major earthquake or other disaster.

Duck, Cover, and Hold

Before we dive into the more in depth ways to prepare for an earthquake here is one of the most basic tips, but one that is often forgotten when panic sets in.  Duck, cover and hold.  Take COVER under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture and hold on.  If that is not possible, seek cover against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid danger spots near windows, hanging objects, mirrors or tall furniture. If you are in bed, remain there and cover your face with a pillow to shield yourself from falling debris until the shaking stops.  If you take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, HOLD on to it and be prepared to move with it. Hold the position until the ground stops shaking and it is safe to move.

Duck, Cover and Hold diagram

Make A Plan

In an effort to get families ready for a disaster in 2014, Ready.gov has kicked off their Resolve to Be Ready campaign.  The campaign includes age-appropriate tools and resources to introduce conversations about disaster preparedness to children, including a downloadable family emergency plan, emergency kit checklists and guidelines on how to make preparedness a year-round family activity.  This year’s campaign revolves around families focusing on three main ideas as they plan; who to call, where to meet and what to pack.

Build A Kit

Disaster Supply KitDepending on the magnitude of an earthquake and the damage your location sustains, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even weeks. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

Having your own supplies can help ensure your safety and well-being in the event that emergency responders and local officials are unable to reach you in a timely matter.  This means it is important to have your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours.

USGS experts say that the two most needed resources to help survive a major earthquake are water for drinking and a fire extinguisher to put out small fires, however FEMA has put together a complete checklist of items that should be included in every disaster kit, which you can download here.

Additional resources on maintaining and storing your kit can be found on the Ready.gov Build A Kit page.  If you are unable to piece together your own disaster kit there are a number of pre-built Emergency & Survival Kits on Amazon.

Get Involved

Corona CERT PatchAnother great way to help prepare for a disaster is to get involved.  One way Corona residents can do this is through the Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT Program.  The CERT Program is offered by the Corona Fire Department as a way to prepares individuals for increased self-reliance which can supplement City resources in the event of a disaster or other major emergency.

The program consists of 27 hours of classroom and hands on training and explores a number of topics such as disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations and light search and rescue.  Upon completion volunteers will be prepared for all types of hazards and disasters.

The CERT Program is open to all Corona residents 18 and older.  Classes are held at the city’s Public Safety Training Center or the Fire Department Training Center on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and 2 additional Saturdays.

Spring 2014 sessions will begin in March and Fall sessions will start in October, with each session limited to a total of 40 students.

CERT volunteers are trained in emergency procedures and are duly registered as Disaster Service Workers in accordance with the California Government Code and the City of Corona Municipal Code.  For more information on the program and to fill out an interest form visit the City of Corona’s CERT Training page.

Additional Tips

  • Learn and understand utility shutoff safety.  Practice turning off your electricity and water. Know how to turn off the gas, but do not practice this step.
  • In the event of an earthquake, once you turn off your gas, only your utility company should turn it back on for safety reasons.
  • When in a high-rise building, move against an interior wall if you are not near a desk or table.  Protect your head and neck with your arms. Do not use the elevators.
  • When outdoors, move to a clear area away from trees, signs, buildings, or electrical wires and poles.
  • When on a sidewalk near buildings, duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, plaster and other debris.
  • When driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses and power lines. Stay inside your vehicle until the shaking stops.
  • When in a crowded store or other public place, move away from display shelves containing objects that could fall. Do not rush for the exit.
  • When in a theater, stay in your seat, get below the level of the back of the seat and cover your head and neck with your arms.

The anniversary of the Northridge quake and the three recent tremors that rocked Corona, quickly remind us how vulnerable we are to earthquakes, and while these recent tremors were more a nuisance than a disaster, we never know if and when a larger quake may hit. By preparing for the worst now, we can ensure that if a larger quake does hit our families will be ready to endure whatever disaster the quake may bring.