Tips on earthquake preparedness shared at Solana Beach Public Safety Commission meeting

Less than three weeks after last month’s Napa Valley magnitude-6.0 earthquake, community members gathered to learn about earthquake preparedness during a presentation at the start of Solana Beach’s regularly scheduled Public Safety Commission meeting on Sept. 9.

Although wildfires remain the region’s greatest threat, Kim McDermott, an emergency services coordinator at the San Diego County’s Office of Emergency Services, noted that the Rose Canyon Fault cuts right through the heart of downtown San Diego, through the center of San Diego Bay, north through La Jolla and along the coast.

“The projected largest earthquake along that fault is magnitude 6.0-plus, so it would be a significant impact to San Diego. That would be the one that affects Solana Beach,” said McDermott, who noted the largest earthquake in the region, to date, was a 5.3, which shook Old Town in 1986. The Elsinore Fault runs through the eastern part of the county, from the region between El Centro and San Diego, northwest to Chino Hills, she added.

There are a number of ways people should prepare for an earthquake or another disaster, McDermott said.

Around the home, keep heavier items on lower shelves and secure heavy picture frames and mirrors, the water heater, hazardous liquids, and “anything that might fall.”

During an earthquake, officials encourage people to “duck, cover and hold on.” Take cover under sturdy, heavy pieces of furniture.

“We recommend that you pre-identify these locations throughout your home prior to an earthquake and actually practice this twice a year,” McDermott said.

If an earthquake hits and you are located in a high-rise building, take cover near an interior wall, protect your head and use the stairs, not the elevator, McDermott said. If you’re in a stadium or a theater, duck below the rim of your seat.

“One thing you definitely don’t want to do is start running with a crowd,” she said. “You don’t want to get trampled under a stampede of people.”

If you’re in the kitchen, move away from the fridge and the stove. If you’re at a store, move away from the shelves. If you’re driving, pull over to the side of the road and wait until the shaking stops. Don’t pull over underneath an underpass, a large tree or anything else that could fall. Similarly, if you’re outdoors, stay away from trees, buildings, poles and anything else that could fall.

“Bottom line is duck, cover and hold on, and use your common sense to not be under anything that could fall on top of you,” McDermott said.

After the initial shaking, survey the area to see whether there is any major structural damage or injury to people with you. Only use the phone to call 911 for life-threatening emergencies. Be prepared for aftershocks.

The Kearny Mesa-based Office of Emergency Services coordinates the overall response to large-scale, regional emergencies such as the May wildfires, the power outages in 2011 and the wildfires in 2003 and 2007.

To prepare for emergencies, officials encourage community members to create a family disaster plan that includes an escape plan and meeting location. Families should practice their plan twice a year, said McDermott, adding that the OES office offers a template for a plan on its website at www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/oes.html.

In addition, have an out-of-area contact and assemble a disaster kit. Keep a kit at home, work and in the car.

Kits should include at least a three-day supply of food and water for each person, a radio, batteries, flashlight, medication, important documents, family pictures and other valuable items that can’t be replaced.

Remember to include your pets in your family disaster plan and emergency kits, which include food, water, medication and crates.

“Preparedness starts with you,” McDermott said. “We’re here to support the incident, but it comes down to how prepared you are as an individual and how prepared you are for your family. Take your personal preparedness into your own hands.”

For more information, including a checklist for emergency kits, visit www.readysandiego.org.

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