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Great ShakeOut this Thursday: How to prepare for the “Next Big One”

California is considered the highest risk earthquake area in the nation. A March 2015 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) forecast predicts a 72 percent probability of a 6.7 or greater earthquake in the San Francisco Bay region within the next 30 years. Given the high probability of such a catastrophic earthquake, we must all prepare both at home and at work for the “Next Big One” because what we do before the earthquake will determine what our lives are like afterward.

At 10:19 a.m. on this Thursday, Oct. 19, UCOP will join more than 10 million Californians in an earthquake drill called the Great ShakeOut.

When you hear the drill announced, please drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy desk or table away from windows and hold on for 60 seconds (or, in the case of a real quake, until the shaking stops). Practicing this simple exercise at work and at home will help you to immediately react to protect yourself when an actual earthquake hits.

Earthquake-safety

Earthquake preparedness at work

Most injuries and deaths from earthquakes are caused by falling or flying objects rather than structural building collapses. To prevent being hit by falling objects, inspect your workspace and remove or secure any heavy overhead items that may fall on you during an earthquake:

  • Move heavy items to lower shelves or secure overhead items with earthquake putty.
  • Secure large items, such as bookcases, shelves and cabinets, to the wall to prevent them from falling on you or blocking your exit during an evacuation.
  • To prevent pictures hung on walls from becoming a falling hazard, hang them with earthquake-safe hooks or regular picture hooks in combination with earthquake putty on all four corners.
  • Identify and keep a clear space under a desk or table where you can take cover to protect yourself. This designated space should be away from windows.

This is also a good time to sign up for UCOPAlert, OP’s off-hours notification system, to receive important information in an emergency. UCOPAlert delivers alerts to your home phone, personal cell phone and/or personal email outside normal business hours when you’re not in the office but need to know about an emergency or situation that affects your workplace or your ability to perform your work. Visit the UCOPAlert website for more information and to register.

After an earthquake

After the initial earthquake, remain calm and be prepared for aftershocks. Listen to and follow the directions of your floor warden/safety coordinator or the building PA system. Check for injuries and administer first aid to the extent to which you have been trained. Do not turn on or off any lighting or electrical devices. Do not use your office telephone, but check to make sure your receiver is on its cradle in order to receive emergency information calls.

For multistory buildings, after a large magnitude earthquake, it is possible that the emergency stairway(s) may be damaged. An assessment of the condition of the stairways should be done prior to allowing people to use the stairs.

Earthquake emergency supplies at work

Emergency preparedness experts recommend having several days’ worth of supplies at your office.

For the department/work unit:

  • Food and water for three days
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlights, battery-operated radio and spare batteries
  • Rescue and repair tools

Individual items:

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Prescription medication(s) for three days
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Out-of-area emergency contact phone numbers

Earthquake preparedness at home

Each household should create a household safety plan. Pick safe places in each room of your home where family members could duck under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows or furniture that could fall on you. Practice drop, cover and hold on with members of the household. Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes near your bed in the event the earthquake strikes at night. Preparing your home for an earthquake should also include:

  • Securely anchoring the house to its foundation
  • Bolting and bracing water heater, gas appliances, bookshelves and tall furniture to wall studs
  • Hanging heavy items (pictures, mirrors, etc.) away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit
  • Installing strong latches/bolts on cabinets
  • Storing large heavy items close to the floor
  • Keeping a wrench near the gas valve and learning how to shut it off
  • Keeping and maintaining an emergency supply kit in an easily accessible location

Home earthquake emergency supply kit

Every home should have a three-day emergency supply kit. Recommended items in the kit include:

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food items and a manual can opener
  • First-aid supplies and fire extinguisher
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Battery-operated cell phone charger
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • Personal hygiene/sanitation supplies
  • Essential medications
  • Tools
  • Family contact information, including out-of-area contacts
  • Personal documents/information (driver’s license, vital records, etc.)
  • Cash in smaller denominations to buy food, gas and supplies
  • Local area map

Additional resources


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