Seven Things You Should Do Now Before The Next Big Earthquake

When California shakes, the world takes notice.

Our Golden State has a history of destructive seismic activity, from the 7.9 San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906, to the 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989 that interrupted the World Series, to the Southern California 6.7 Northridge event in 1994 that caused $15 billion in damage.

The recent magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 quakes centered near Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert, east of Bakersfield, and about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, were felt as far away as San Diego and Las Vegas. There has been a swarm of as many as 3,000 aftershocks, rattling windows, homes, and nerves. In fact, these were the biggest quakes in about 25 years in the area.

All this shaking also caused Californians to wake up from their earthquake amnesia to ask, “What should I do now? Am I really prepared for the inevitable?”

With 40 years of public safety experience as a firefighter and FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer, I’ve seen my share of destruction from natural disasters. So here are seven things you should do now before the next big earthquake hits –– because the “Next Big One” can happen at any time in the next 30 years:

  • Buy or update your earthquake supplies — Every home should have enough water and food to last for at least three days in case of a massive power outage or an evacuation. Other survival kit supplies should include flashlights, battery-powered or hand-cranked radios, extra batteries, a first aid kit, blankets, cell phones with chargers, medications, sanitation items, and copies of your personal documents. See more at the American Red Cross website.
  • Discuss a family earthquake plan – Gather the family who live in your home and talk frankly about what to do when (not if) the next big quake comes. If some of you are at work or at school when it occurs, where will you meet if your house is uninhabitable? And talk about where your children will stay if your home is not safe –– grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends nearby are all likely candidates. Even if you live alone, you should have a plan on where you can go that was not affected by the seismic activity.
  • Designate an out of town contact for everyone to call / text – Pick a friend or a relative who does not live nearby. Assuming they’re safe and their cell phones work, they can be the point person for everyone in your family to contact to let others know that you’re OK.
  • Investigate an earthquake insurance policy – Yes, the deductible is typically high –- about 15% of your home’s value –– so you have to ask yourself how much is it worth? What would you do if it were destroyed, knocked off its foundation, or otherwise damaged? Could you afford to replace it if it were lost?You can sometimes choose a lower deductible of approximately 10% of the structure limits, but this deductible is typically set to be a percentage of your policy’s limits.Talk to your insurance broker to see what the monthly rates are, what coverage is available, and what he or she recommends. If you live in a condo, ask the Homeowners’ Association if it carries some type of coverage.
  • Keep shoes and socks under your bed in case of broken glass – If a quake is strong enough, it will shatter windows, cause lamps to fall, and otherwise make it dangerous to walk in your bedroom or other rooms of your house. So keeping a pair of shoes and socks, as well as sweats and a jacket under your bed, is a smart way to prepare now.
  • Determine where to get help for your elderly and disabled family members – If your home is not navigable because of damaged walls, chimneys, furniture, or other problems, you’ll have to figure out where to take your parents, grandparents, disabled, or injured family members. Have a list of possible resources programmed into your cell phone in case of this type of emergency.
  • Assign someone to take post-quake photos of damage for insurance or federal assistance – Whether you have insurance or you qualify for federal assistance through FEMA, a state or local government, you should have someone in your family take post-earthquake photos immediately after the damage. Any smartphone can take excellent photos or videos to document what happened to your property in case you can file a claim.

I hope this list of seven things you should do now before the next big earthquake was helpful. Even if you only do a few of these items, you’re starting to get prepared.

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Fans of Dub Nation: Mark Neveau and Family

Mark and his family are big fans of the Golden State Warriors. In fan, they’re bigger than big fans. They’re HUGE! Read this story from the NBA Warriors “Fans of Dub Nation”…

When Mark Neveau and his family get together to watch the games, there’s a good chance that four generations of Warriors fans are in the same room. Not only has this family bonded over their love of basketball, but they’ve also used the Bay’s team as a standard of behavior and teamwork. From embarrassing birthday celebrations for his teenage daughter to a grandmother going to her first game at age 92, Mark’s family is full of pleasant surprises.

MN: My name is Mark Neveau and I’ve been a Warriors fan since I was 14 years old. I used to go to the games at the Oakland Coliseum back when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. You saw some of the NBA’s best talent, unfortunately it was usually on the other team. But going was about the spirit inside the arena. The venue would sell out most of the time. People were rowdily cheering, and you got caught up in the enthusiasm of it all. That was part of it. We rarely won. It was a long playoff drought, but you still went to the games because we loved it. As I grew older, we partnered up with friends to become season ticket holders. We are very fortunate. READ MORE.

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Earth, Wind and Fire: The Worst Disasters I’ve Ever Seen

You’ve seen them on the news: hurricanes of horrendous destruction. Wildfires of unspeakable devastation. Earthquakes that have leveled cities. Flash floods that have swept away homes and ruined lives.

But I’ve seen them first-hand, often just a few hours after they hit unsuspecting areas while the local folks are still in shock.

As an emergency management consultant with over 40 years of boots on the ground experience, I’ve worked with FEMA and as a S.F. Bay Area Fire Department Battalion Chief.

My role as a disaster management expert and public information officer has enabled me to assess damage up-close, make recommendations to government entities, and supervise disaster relief efforts.

So what are the worst disasters I’ve ever seen caused by earth, wind and fire? It’s difficult to choose just one for each, but here are my thoughts.

Earthquakes That Shocked Millions.

The Loma Prieta Earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area during the evening rush hour on October 17, 1989 only lasted about 15 seconds. But it was strong enough to cancel the third game of the SF Giants and Oakland A’s World Series, which was later rescheduled to be played 10 days later.

But with a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter Scale, it caused approximately $6 billion in damage, was felt from Monterey Bay to Marin County, caused buildings and freeways to collapse from San Francisco to Oakland, made a 50-foot section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge fall, killed 63 people, and left over 3,700 injured.

Furthermore, this quake knocked out power to an estimated 1.4 million people. At the time, I was a Fire Department Captain in Fremont, California, and we responded to numerous calls for help throughout the week. As an emergency management consultant, I had never seen one earthquake cause so much damage.

Winds Gone Wild.

I was a Presidential-appointed Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) for 12 disasters and emergency declarations in multiple states during my tenure at FEMA.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 had one of the widest paths of destruction and flooding ever, from Louisiana to Florida.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Maria in 2017 was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike Puerto Rico and knocked out power to more than one million residents of the island nation.

However, Superstorm Sandy in 2012 was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of that year and inflicted nearly $70 billion in damage to 22 states from Florida to Maine, but principally in New York City, as well as some northern Caribbean Islands.

Sandy was also the most widely spread disaster to affect a highly populated area, as well as the longest electrical blackout in the continental United States. I’ve seen the aftermath of dozens of hurricanes and tornadoes as a disaster management expert, but Superstorm Sandy’s devastation and five-day blizzard that followed it was just mind-boggling.

Fire, Fire Everywhere.

Every year, forest fires destroy trees, kill wildlife, and cause folks in its path to evacuate. And every year, it seems like there are more fires of greater size and wider destruction.

But last summer’s Camp Fire near Chico, California, was by far the worst I ever witnessed.

Every year, forest fires destroy trees, kill wildlife, and cause folks in its path to evacuate. And every year, it seems like there are more fires of greater size and wider destruction.

But last summer’s Camp Fire near Chico, California, was by far the worst I had ever witnessed. As the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in 90 years––it killed 102 people––it also became the world’s costliest natural disaster with a price tag of $16.5 billion in damage.

This wide-ranging, fast-moving fire burned 153,000 acres, nearly 19,000 buildings, and took 17 days to completely contain it. The destruction I saw was other-worldly and was so complete that the town of Paradise looked like the surface of the moon.

I sincerely hope I never see earthquakes, hurricanes or wildfires as deadly as the ones I’ve seen as an emergency management consultant. Unfortunately, time will only tell what’s next.

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