Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Good Shake!

Yes, we had a medium sized earthquake a few hours ago. The earthquake, centered around the Alum Rock area near San Jose, measured about 5.6 on the Richter scale and was located on the Calveras fault. We were a home getting dinner ready when I felt the house shaking. Having experienced various earthquakes in the past (including the 1989 Loma Prieta quake), it was easy to recognize the shaking as an earthquake. I grabbed our kids and ran out of the house (my wife was out of town). By the time we got out, the shaking subsided, and there was no damage that I could see.

After we got back into the house, we went on the Web to check out the USGS site showing recent earthquakes. But in the minutes after the quake, there was no sign of it. Our younger daughter was quite scared by the whole incident---not so much by the quake itself, but more by my reaction to it. So we spent the time discussing why earthquakes happen (complete with web images of plate tectonics), how houses in the California are generally well constructed to withstand earthquakes, and how earthquakes have caused significant destruction in poorer countries that can't afford high-quality construction.

Some 15 minutes after the quake, we saw the following image on the USGS site, pinpointing the quake.

This quake seems to have caused little damage. But it is a good reminder to update (or create) ones earthquake preparedness plan. A key part of this plan is to have a survival kit. Such kits can be put together inexpensively, but ready-made kits are available as a convenience. Google handed out a really nice kit to all its employees.


David said...

Hmm, isn't running outside exactly what you *aren't* supposed to do during an earthquake? Power lines, trees etc. See http://www.bayareanewsgroup.com/multimedia/mn/news/prepare.pdf.

Pandu Nayak said...

You are so right. In my defense, the best strategy---that of ducking under a table---was unavailable to us (we don't have tables that let us do much ducking). Also, there aren't any power lines near the front door, so maybe we weren't in that much danger. There are trees, but do trees really pose a threat in an earthquake? The other danger of running outside is shingles falling off the roof. But we have a flat (Eichler) roof, so no shingles.

Nonetheless, it does seem sub-optimal. Yesterday's Mercury News had some suggestions on what we should have done. Ducking under a table is, of course, optimal. But if a table is unavailable, they recommend crouching on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or furniture. The picture shows the person on his knees, forehead to the floor, and hands crossed protectively behind the head. I've identified such a safe spot in the house, and will use it the next time!

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