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Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake? 191

Posted by timothy
from the hey-man-what's-the-exoskeleton-for? dept.
With three earthquakes of some significance in the news this weekend (Chile, California, and Iceland), it seems a good time to ask: If you live in an area of seismic danger, how are you prepared for an earthquake (or tsunami, mudslide, or other associated danger) and how prepared are you? Do you have a stash of emergency supplies, and if so, how did you formulate it? In the U.S. alone, it's surprising how many areas there are with some reasonable chance of earthquakes, though only a few of them are actually famous for it — and those areas are the ones where everything from building codes to cultural awareness helps mitigate the risks. I'm not sure I'd want to be in a skyscraper in Memphis or St. Louis during a replay of the New Madrid quakes of 1811-1812, which is probably worth worrying about for those in the region. Beyond personal safety, do you have a plan for your electronics and data if the earth starts shaking?
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Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

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  • Not Very Prepared (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brian.stinar (1104135) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:09PM (#47743241) Homepage

    I live in New Mexico, and we don't have many earthquakes, or tall buildings, so I am not prepared at all.

    • same, the biggest recorded quake n my area (somewhere in europe) was somewhere around 5 and that was a comfy 30km off...

    • I live in upstate NY. We had one earthquake a few years ago and I missed out on it. While everyone else felt it (my wife was driving at the time and thought something was up with the car since it kept shaking), my building was apparently "earthquake proof" and I didn't feel any movement at all. What a let down.

      • ... my building was apparently "earthquake proof" and I didn't feel any movement at all. What a let down.

        The building's systems worked exactly as they were supposed to, and you feel let down?

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Considering that a big earthquake here is 3 on the Richter scale I would say - not very prepared either.

      We have other things that might happen before that with that are more likely to cause problems, the closest is corrupt politicians [facebook.com].

      • You are more likely to be shot by a policeman while you are unarmed than you are to be killed as a result of an earthquake in the US [removing the special case of cops killing you because they think you are looting food because of an earthquake].

    • Prior to 2011 there had not been a significant earthquake in my area for a bit over 100 years. When the quake hit in 2011 what we discovered is that pretty much nobody was prepared for an earthquake. Fortunately the damage was mostly restricted to building damage. In particular we have a lot of masonry structures in Virginia and some of them got damaged. The front steps to my house suffered some cracking and the sidewalk is not at a slight angle that wasn’t there before the quake. I am eventually goi

  • s (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:15PM (#47743281) Journal
    I drink alot of coffee and take amphetimines and coke and stuff and I'm totally spastic so when an earthquake hits, I'm the only one standing still.
    • by flyneye (84093)

      I've stored my beer on a space foam mattress in the tornado shelter.
      I'm ready for the nukes to drop.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's why we destroy water supplies to export shitty shale oils.

  • Things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:18PM (#47743305) Homepage Journal

    Electronics? Really? Those are just things. They can be replaced. My data is backed up and can be restored. The things to worry about are food, medical supplies, and water. We always have about a month's worth of food and water stored away in the event of some sort of disaster. I don't give a fuck about my electronic devices. I care about the life and well being of myself and my wife, and like I said data can be restored.

    • Re:Things (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:41PM (#47743441) Journal
      It's all about degrees of disaster. If there's a real disaster, I wouldn't give a rodent's behind about my electronics and I too would be happy with my emergency stash of food and water. But even so I have taken some precautions... My router, server, NAS etc sit in the basement, but they are mounted as high as possible in case there's a flood, and there's a flood detector as well. No use against a real flood (we live below sea level), but if the water mains bursts or if a minor dike breaks, my stuff will be reasonably safe and I will be notified in time to move it if the flooding continues. The same level of protection that people arrange in hurricane areas, I suppose, like having sheets of wood handy to board up the windows with. Not sure how you'd protect your things against a minor earthquake, though. Not mounting them in a wobbly cabinet is probably a good start.
      • by jhol13 (1087781)

        Exactly. I am somewhat prepared for lightnings. I have good backups of my computer stuff off site (protects from fire too). I have UPS for PC and remote controlled switches to "separate" TV etc. from mains. Obviously those will not protect at all if the lightning hits my house. But it can protect if the lightning hits more than 100 meters away - which extremely more likely.

      • Re:Things (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday August 24, 2014 @10:03PM (#47745179) Journal

        It's all about degrees of disaster. If there's a real disaster, I wouldn't give a rodent's behind about my electronics and I too would be happy with my emergency stash of food and water.

        You think so now, but you need recovery plans as much as immediate survival materials and equipment. Getting back to normal life is the real goal after a disaster.

        I've been involved in several disaster recovery efforts, including earthquakes, floods, fires, and tsunamis. Each of those events had their own challenges, but there were some clear and consistent ways you can prepare to improve the eventual outcome.

        1. Don't be there.
        Seriously, this is the best option if there's ANY warning at all, or even post-disaster if you're mobile. Have and share a plan with pre-established criteria for getting out. Know what you're going to pack, what you'll protect in place (eg, plastic wrapped tools etc), and where you're going to go well before any threat is on its way. Stick to the plan.

        2. Communications.
        In every scenario so far, the most robust means of communicating and getting help has been SMS.If you can keep your phone charged for the duration, your chances of getting help (initially from first responders, then from community and family) is vastly improved. SIM cards are surprisingly robust, but have more than one phone available (eg, an old handset in sealed in plastic). Most importantly, have a car charger or two for your phone. Even wrecked cars can top up a phone battery.

        3. Social Networking.
        Stay in touch with friends and neighbors. If you're absent minded or mostly antisocial, have a list/schedule of people (in robust storage, and preferably hardcopy) to touch base with every month or two.

        4. Entertainment.
        Don't underestimate the importance of this. Boredom and depression can be devastating, so plan on ways to keep yourselves informed and relatively cheerful.

        5. Documents.
        Surprisingly, this has mattered less than I expected as recovery efforts generally take document loss into account. Having said that, things like insurance records etc are worth having copies located in several places (eg, with family or left at work).

        Disasters are inherently somewhat unpredictable, but human needs are not. You can make life a lot easier for yourself if you choose to.

        • by s.petry (762400)

          Good advice, but a few additional points. For item 1 it's not always possible. Good to have a plan, but in a disaster you may not be able to go any place. If you must leave (volcano/tsunami) GTFO, but in many cases you are not better off leaving. Someone knows where you live and will get help out eventually. They won't know that you drove through a mountain pass and got stranded.

          For item 2 radios are great for both entertainment and news. Item 3 may be confused with Facebook because of terminology, an

    • I don't give a fuck about my electronic devices.

      A short-wave transciever could come in mighty handy should disaster come.

    • for the electronics part. Just back up your essential data in solid state storage. You'll be dead or severely injured before your SSD, SD card, etc, is damaged, at which point you stop worrying about your electronics.

      As for the other, more important stuff, I have an emergency grab bag in my room just for such incidents. All the essentials, including the flashlight and first aid kid, are packed. The food is in the fridge, which is on the way out.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        You probably should think about some foods that do not need refridgeration. You may not have the optiin of ice or even cooling if you experience a disaster. A wind storm knocked the power out in several counties a few years ago. Ice at the store was gone in no time and most of the stores wouldn't restock because their power was out too.

        Canned goods, instant rices and stuff are good. Just make sure you have a can opener in your go bag. And make sure your water sources are clean and safe. Think about using ca

    • by drgould (24404)

      Electronics? Really? Those are just things. They can be replaced.

      There's electronics and there's electronics.

      Sure you don't care about your computer, TV, DVD player, etc, etc, but you might want to add a crank/solar AM/FM radio, flashlight, spare cell phone and maybe even a battery-operated TV to your stash.

      Extra points for a CB or Ham radio.

  • Not at all (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:18PM (#47743309) Journal

    I live in an area without Earthquakes.

    But when i lived in Japan:

    -Emergency radio with Crank generator and LED flashlight, Buzzer (in case you are trapped inside a (partially) collapsed house and dont want to shout all the time), mobile phone charger, and radio receiver for all channels, lying close/in my bed (http://tlet.co.jp/pro_radio/ty_jr11/index_j.htm)
    -2 Liters of water (i lived alone)

    In Japan we had earthquake drills of the housing community one time per year, and one time per year in the company. In the housing community we were shown the nearest small emergency area, which had food and water stored in boxes, medical supplies and tools/shovels. We trained how to use fire extinguishers.
    And everybody shoudl have had look at (and i had) how to reach the next bigger emergency area (which typically was a bigger public park with an area for helicopter landings and some toilets.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      Buzzer (in case you are trapped

      What kind of buzzer? It's part of the crank radio? I can't read Japanese so can't tell.

      • by Ksevio (865461)
        I have a crank radio/flashlight thing that just as a button on the side to make an annoying noise. Probably the same deal since it's an easy add on that uses little power
      • by drolli (522659)

        When you operated the crank for a about 20 seconds, you could turn on the buzzer (not very loud, but louder than you could talk or knock) for a few minutes. Probably more useful for the finding you in a burning house (where you cant breathe much) than in a collapsed one.

    • I am a fatalist. I think that if it's big, the building I live would still collapse and living on the 8th floor (out of 10) won't save me no matter what I do.

    • by houghi (78078)

      In Japan we had earthquake drills of the housing community one time per year, and one time per year in the company.

      Just curious, do companies in the US do this?
      In Belgium we have a yearly firedrill, because that will be the most likely disaster. So do US companies in earthquake country have drills or do companies in "Tornado Alley [wikipedia.org] train for that?

      • by Zargg (1596625)

        In Japan we had earthquake drills of the housing community one time per year, and one time per year in the company.

        Just curious, do companies in the US do this?
        In Belgium we have a yearly firedrill, because that will be the most likely disaster. So do US companies in earthquake country have drills or do companies in "Tornado Alley [wikipedia.org] train for that?

        My company in Los Angeles seems woefully under-prepared for earthquakes. We have an annual fire drill, but when I asked about earthquake drills, the response was basically "get under the desk while it's shaking, then we'll wing it and someone will announce evacuation if needed."

        I think the general attitude is that new building codes will handle most earthquakes, and if the big one hits then everyone is screwed anyway. For reference my office is only 4 stories though, curious what other companies do.

        • My company in Los Angeles seems woefully under-prepared for earthquakes.

          I spent a number of years working for an ISP in Pasadena. The server room was designed to survive a 7.5 earthquake and we had something like six connections to the backbone in different directions because we were so close to the San Andreas Fault. We didn't have any earthquake drills, but I'm guessing that our plan was about the same as yours. I do know that we had to evacuate the building once because a car crashed into a power p
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Japan is incredibly well prepared for earthquakes, and everyone pitches in. Even companies see it as their duty to help out when possible.

      For example, some vending machines have an "emergency mode" where they dispense free drinks. Some even provide free electricity or telecommunications/wifi, since they already have some kind of data network to report when they need restocking. Many have solar panels on top too, which of course can't provide enough energy to keep them hot/cold but can charge a mobile phone.

  • by kolbe (320366) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:22PM (#47743325) Homepage

    I'll be honest, as a resident of a very earthquake prone area of California I have at times forgotten about being prepared. However, there is no excuse for it. For me, I have set aside a small area in a closet with a rubbermaid container with the following set up for my family of 4:

    1 Case of 36 water bottles (changed out annually)
    1 Box of water purification tablets
    16 Freeze Dried "MRE" foods (20yr shelf life)
    1 Coleman propane stove
    2M HAM Radio + spare Li-Ion Battery & Solar Charger for talking with family
    AM/FM 2xAA Battery radio + Solar AA Charger
    2 Flashlights w/ AA Rechargeable Batteries

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Swap the batteries for AA lithium energizers. It is a cheap upgrade and compatible with all your AA equipment. They have 10 years shelf live and will not leak so you can keep some in your light. This way the light are usable immediately if the emergency happen at night.

      Propane are not ideal for fuel. Look into alcohol stove. The methyl hydrate [wikipedia.org] is cheap and still available in store when everything else is out. Very few peoples use that as fuel. They are flock in into the gas station. Methanol is also safer a

      • by stoploss (2842505)

        Depends on whether your flashlights are compatible with lithiums. For example, they will cook a maglight with incandescent bulbs. The bulbs burn out within 10 minutes. Perhaps that's less of a problem now, but I have other electronics that won't work with lithiums.

        • by kolbe (320366)

          @Anonymous

          I refuse to use Alcohol based products... they are horrible at heating food and Alcohol in the USA is completely unregulated, which means it may have a toxicity level that one would rather not want to worry about.

          @Stoploss

          And my flashlights are not... I actually have two others with the hand-crank on them, but their candlepower sucks!

          While I have invested some time and money into a preparedness kit, I do not feel adding Li-On batteries for flashlights and radio are as beneficial as just having som

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            Get a fuel-distillation permit and make/buy yourself a copper still. Have fun. If it's not for drinking, you're good.

          • by Dahan (130247)

            @Anonymous

            I refuse to use Alcohol based products... they are horrible at heating food and Alcohol in the USA is completely unregulated, which means it may have a toxicity level that one would rather not want to worry about.

            You're not supposed to drink the alcohol--even pure methanol is pretty toxic if you drink it. You're just supposed to burn the alcohol in a stove. A proper alcohol burner will mix the vapors with air and produce a hot blue flame that works quite well at heating food.

    • One thing the Japanese never forget: toilet paper.
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      MREs are not survival rations they are combat rations. a few cases of refried beans and corn will be much cheaper and store far more days of fuel in a smaller space for a longer amount of time. and you can rotate your supply as you use them so they don't just sit there until they expire
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      If you can, swap that radio out for one that can also do 70cm - especially if you can get it to work out of HAM bands. Remember, if there's threat to life/property and there are no other means, you are allowed to break rules.

      The 70cm stuff might work better for you when there's crap all around - lower frequency stuff might not make it through the rebar but 70cm just might.

      Also, you might want to put that in something sturdier than a rubbermaid. You can get surplus ammo containers easily for example, and a f

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Sorry to reply to myself, but here's a great example radio. [universal-radio.com] In particular note it's submersible, and with some programmer work [kc8unj.com] (or solder bridging [blogspot.com] if you want permanence) will let you transmit outside of band (just be super careful with that - you can get yourself into big trouble by accidentally transmitting that way without cause)

        • by kolbe (320366)

          VERY nice radio! I have a YAESU FT-60 144/430MHz w/ 2meter/440MHz magnetic dualband antenna that I take out with me for emergencies and chatting with nearby hammers, but something like a Uni Radio might actually be a good idea (plus it sounds like it could be tweaked for higher frequencies). Thanks for that!

          My issue with getting ammo boxes is that they are heavy. Let's assume your situation where, heaven forbid my room comes down and smashes down on top of my closet. The likelihood of being able to even gai

  • by rossdee (243626)

    I moved to Minnesota so I wouldn't have to worry about earthquakes, or tsunamis

    • Re:But (Score:5, Funny)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:44PM (#47743467) Homepage Journal

      I moved to Minnesota so I wouldn't have to worry about earthquakes, or tsunamis

      Yeah, but now you're in Minnesota.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ArcadeMan (2766669)

        No mod points today, so here's a virtual +1 Funny to you.

      • by rossdee (243626)

        In an active seismic zone, you have virtually mo warning of an earthquake.

        In Minnesota, there is plenty of time to get to the basement if there is a tornado warning, and 6 months notice of oncoming -20F temperatures

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          In Minnesota, there is plenty of time to get to the basement if there is a tornado warning, and 6 months notice of oncoming -20F temperatures

          I'll take my chances with the tsunamis.

          I've been to Minnesota.

    • I moved to Minnesota so I wouldn't have to worry about earthquakes, or tsunamis

      But winters can bring their own challenges and different answers.
      A frozen week is a long frozen week....

      Large trash bags make windproof and rainproof emergency layers and
      make taking trash away from the park easy too.

      Keep that old comforter in the boot of the car and some old shoes, hat,
      dry clothing handy too.

      Frozen food is difficult to eat... you will need something to cook/ heat food with. Something
      that does not kill you with carbon monoxide. Camping and picnic equipment makes great emergency
      kit if it is

  • For an emergency?
    I have a bunch of LED torches and a couple of radios. They all take AA batteries and bunch of those too.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:26PM (#47743355)
    Where I live (Nova Scotia) basically doesn't have earthquakes. So the risk here would be Tsunami from a distant earthquake. Interestingly enough if there were a Tsunami the configuration of the seafloor would cause it to be massive and wipe everything out for 10 or more miles inland.

    I am not sure how many bottles of water I would need for that scenario.
  • Bottom 1/2 of the garage fridge is frozen water.
    Always plenty of foodstuffs around
    Propane and charcoal grills to cook on
    In the event of actually having to bug out, one of the laptops and the main USB secondary drive that normally lives attached to the house HTPC/server. In addition to a few things in cloud storage.

    Anything else...home owners insurance.
  • We are so resource constrained we just get by, if a large quake hit the San Jose area we'd be down functionally for weeks....
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:54PM (#47743519) Journal

    We have a self-contained travel trailer that doubles as natural disaster supplies. Stocked with canned and boxed food for weeks, 14 gallons of propane (always more than 7, since you swap tanks when one of 'em empties and top 'em off after a trip) can keep the fridge going for months, and we have a couple spare tanks.

    40 gallons of fresh water are good for three days of camping WITH showers. In a natural disaster you can skip the showers and stretch it for a month or so. A couple hundred amp-hours of batteries (i.e. two of 'em) can keep things going for a while and can be charged from solar panels (or the vehicle engine) as well. (And we're just starting to convert the lighting to LEDs, for about a 8-16x improvement in power consumption vs. incandescents.)

    The townhouse also has canned food for months and a case or two of bottled drinking water (as does the ranch house, which also has a well if we ever get a generator, windmill, or solar panels & inverter that can run it when grid power is out.) It also provides redundancy if the trailer is damaged, just as the trailer provides redundancy if the house collapses or burns.

    Travel trailers are not very expensive. Set them up for a weekend's camping, park them far enough from the house that expected disaster cases don't zap 'em both, and they'll give you your "three days until help arrives" in style, or a month's survivalist roughing-it. They also have the advantage that, if they don't get damaged in the initial event or you have warning, you can hook 'em up and move to a safer or more convenient location. All "for free" if you like occasional camping, or cross-country ground travel without having to rent allergenic hotel rooms. B-)

    • In a natural disaster you can skip the showers and stretch it for a month or so.

      Dude, this is slashdot. You just confused a lot of readers by saying that.

    • This is interesting stuff. Where do you recommend buying this equipment?

  • In one of the more active areas. So I'm prepared for Mag 2-ish, which means a walk around the house to check for tumbled tchotchkes and tremor-induced feline fecal eruptions. I am however prepared for our natural disaster of choice, the hurricane. Generator, water casks, camp stove, decent pantry - as Garrison Keillor mentions, when I break open the long-forgotten can of water chestnuts, I'll need to turn-to...
  • by Cliff Stoll (242915) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @04:02PM (#47743541) Homepage

    Background: I live on North Oakland, next to Berkeley, in the Rockridge section. Urban, detached 2 bedroom house about 100 years old.

    We bolted down our house, fully reinforced the stemwalls, and installed shearwalls. For our little 2-bedroom bungalow in Oakland, this set us back around $20,000. Earthquake insurance seemed outrageous (around $2,500/year, with very limited benefits). Along with the earthquake retrofit, we set aside a few cases of food & twenty 5-gallon jugs of water. A 2Kw Honda generator. Radio, flashlights, FRS walkie-talkies, etc. Small amount of medical stuff.

    Yes, I have onsite and offsite backups (that's easy); the real problem would be connectivity after a quake. There's probably a hundred telephone poles between my house and the central office.

    Some challenges: Keeping food & water fresh is a problem - cans get rusty as water condenses on cold surfaces. Some camping food goes bad. MRI rations taste, well, horrible. We should replace water & food annually, and generally forget to. (We discovered diapers in our earthquake stash, left over from when our college kids were infants)

        Storing gasoline for the generator is a problem. I'm told that gasoline gets stale after a few months (is this true, or an urban legend?). It's a pain to lug a 3 gallon gas can around, and it's not something I want under my house. (I store it in a shed, where it's out of sight & out of mind - so I rarely refresh it. Is there a small, 5 or 10 gallon under-ground gasoline storage tank?). I should start and exercise the generator every month; it's more like every two years or so. Our experience in the 1989 quake was that gas stations can't pump after an earthquake (no power).

      Our neighborhood's quake group (the Oakland - Rockridge Shakers) meets every summer, and the earthquake drills have been quite useful - we've had several fun practice sessions, where we hunt for human dummies hidden around the neighborhood, search for downed wires, and practice using walkie-talkies. Afterwards, it's a block party, and we compare notes while sharing lunch.

        My home business, Acme Klein Bottles, lost two glass Klein bottles in last night's quake. Both fell off a shelf and shattered on the floor. Good lesson: keep my glassware stored down low, with holders to prevent boxes from shifting. Since most of my glass Klein bottles are stored under our house; a major local temblor that destroyed the house would also wipe out the business.

    • Yes it does go bad, gets sludgy, then clogs fuel filters. It's best to run seasonal equipment dry before storing. More information on gas fresh here...

      http://blog.gasbuddy.com/posts... [gasbuddy.com]

    • Hi gang,

      Thanks for the reports of stale gasoline - I'm convinced. Tonight I'll head out & recycle my old gas. The problem isn't getting things together; it's keeping it all up to date & ready. Your comments hit me in the right place: be prepared.

      I'm associated with a ham radio emergency group; the rule is that the station's equipment must be immediately ready for action. In an emergency, you don't have the luxury of stringing a cable, or fi

  • by hamster_nz (656572) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @04:03PM (#47743563)

    We had a 7.1 10 kms (6 miles) down the road... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2... [wikipedia.org]

    We had plenty of food and water, we were a bit cold as we didn't want to light the woodburner until we checked it out properly. Had a nice BBQ with the neighbours and enjoyed a bit of quiet time and early nights as power was out for three days.

    It hit at 4:35 am. However I still don't sleep approriately attired for running out of the house in the night, nor do I have shoes by the side of my bed for walking over broken glass. Most probably the two most important lessons right there (oh and don't put your bed beside a brick chimney, not that we do...).

  • by vanyel (28049)

    I have a plan: it'll all be toast.

  • Somewhat prepared (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AaronW (33736) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @04:11PM (#47743585) Homepage

    All of my bookshelves are strapped to the wall. My hot water heater has three straps (only 2 are required). Emergency rations are available plus I have my camping equipment and propane for my stove. Next to my bed I have an emergency radio that charges via USB, solar or a hand crank. I'm not terribly concerned about water though I keep several gallons of bottled water. I have a water purification system for camping but the main water supply is literally two blocks away from me though it's on the other side of the Hayward Fault. They just retrofitted the water pipes crossing the fault a few months ago right near my house. In an emergency there's always 50 gallons in my hot water tank. I also have a wrench handy for turning off the water and gas. I'm more worried about gas, especially given that we're supplied by PG&E [wikipedia.org]. It took many years of complaining by my parents until they fixed a rather sizeable gas leak under their property. The only thing I'm missing is a generator.

    I imagine I'll have a lot of stuff falling off of my shelves making a huge mess.

    My house is only a few hundred feet from the Hayward fault. The fault goes right through one of the nearby apartment buildings. Many years ago the developers would conveniently relocate the fault to suit them. Our old city hall which was built on stilts was built on top of a mound that was pushed up between two traces of the Hayward Fault. [google.com]

    My house is bolted to its foundation and is only a single story so it will probably be OK though I might have some damage from my chimney. I also have earthquake insurance though it's quite expensive (around $4K/year).

  • Fuel and H20 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    After living in Christchurch, I can tell you that nothing mentally can prepare you.
    But have water, fuel, sleeping bags, crank radio, and a tent on hand.
    Fights break out over fuel - that was a surprise to me.
    Water takes a long time to get where it is needed - and then it takes horrible and may even make you sick.
    And be prepared to bug out - leave your material possessions behind. You realize how much of a burden material things are after an earthquake.

    • Fights break out over fuel - that was a surprise to me.

      A surprise to me too. I live there, experienced the quakes, lost power and water for weeks, dug a loo in the back garden, etc etc etc. But I didn't see, or even hear about, fights breaking out over anything. Is your source that terrible 'docudrama' made by some people from Auckland who had apparently never visited Christchurch before?

      Water did take a long time to show up, eventually water trucks turned up in the streets. Had the water supply been affected in a more widespread way (parts of the city were mor

  • by Forever Wondering (2506940) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @04:27PM (#47743651)

    I was awake and felt the Californina quake [I'm in Santa Clara county]. It's probably the 7th or so quakes I've felt over the last 30 years. Where I was it was a small sway for 3-4 seconds. I was lucky [my heart goes out to those more deeply affected]. In the 1989 quake I was in Europe, but came back to find my place had stuff flung everywhere.

    My prep [not great]:
    - 20 cans of spam [survival rate: one can/day]
    - Bottles of water
    - Bleach [1 drop per gallon of water from the toilet tank]
    - Flashlights with batteries
    - Landline phone (with old trimline so that it works w/o power)
    - Try to keep my gas tank at least 1/2 full
    - Car charger for cell phone
    - USB thumb drive on my key ring with copies of all my important documents [*]

    [*] Had a fire that gutted half the building near mine once. I had HD backups of data, but they could have gone up in smoke. After that, I got the thumb drive. Now I scan in as much as I can [or print receipt/confirmations to .pdf files]

    • - 20 cans of spam [survival rate: one can/day]

      Bonus: After day 20, you won't want to survive anymore.

  • I would suggest reading up on http://www.sf72.org/home [sf72.org] if you haven't already.

    One piece of advice is that if you collect portable camping gear, you'll find yourself decently prepared, since many of the items you need for camping also assume that you don't have regular infrastructure. Camping food/water also have 5+ year shelf life, so you can go camping and use up your old supply, as well as get practice using all your gear. No point waiting 20+ years to find out you have no idea how to use it.

    So... betwe

  • by Behrooz (302401) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @04:38PM (#47743703)

    I'm not sure I'd want to be in a skyscraper in Memphis or St. Louis during a replay of the New Madrid quakes of 1811-1812,

    Almost certainly safer than anywhere else. Skyscrapers are pretty much universally steel-framed structures which are relatively resistant to seismic loading, subject to stringent building codes, by definition need massive foundations driven to a solid base, and already need to resist dynamic wind-loading forces with resonance effects. Even mid-rise 6-10 story buildings are likely to be quite safe given the inherent seismic benefits of steel-frame construction and attention paid to building codes in the USA.

    Has any modern skyscraper ever experienced significant structural failure resulting in loss of life as a result of an earthquake? Ever? Even in areas known for less-than-enthusiastic enforcement of building standards?

  • The importance of offsite backups for personal data or data for a small company can not be stressed enough. In a major quake fire is a very real danger. Natural gas lines break and a spark can start a fire.

    Offsite backups do not need to be fancy. I have two 1 TB USB drives I use for backup. I copy all of my data to one drive and then take it to my parents house. I then do backups to the second drive. Every month or so, I swap the two drives. If the drive in my house gets destroyed I only loose a mont

  • From my experience (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In the last 4 years I have experienced the following:
    1x Magnitude 7 quake
    5x Magnitude 6 quakes
    Lost count of the magnitude 5s. If I wasn't thrown out of bed, I didn't bother getting up and running for cover.

    This was all living in the one city (Christchurch.) Prior to the quakes the city was considered to have a reasonably low risk of quakes - and then it was expected damage would occur from fault lines around 100km away. However it was hit by shallow quakes directly under the city.

    What I learnt (not all from

    • by NeoTron (6020) <kevin@scaryglid e r s . n et> on Sunday August 24, 2014 @06:26PM (#47744203) Homepage
      I lived in Japan for 6 years, in Koriyama city, Fukushima prefecture, and went through the Magnitude 9 quake on the 11th March 2011.

      I'll second everything you said, with the addition of;

      -- A generator if the power is cut off (luckily the power stayed on after that quake [ VERY luckily!])
      -- Some gerry cans filled with gasoline [ with a regime of fuel rotation to keep the gas fresh ]
            as you need fuel for the genny.

      -- Keep your vehicle fuel tanks filled to the top - you might have to evacuate the area [ my house was 33 miles
            from the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant that went FOOM! ]
      -- If you do live nearby by a nuclear power plant, get a Geiger counter [ bought one after the aforementioned BANG ]

      -- Don't live nearby the sea [ Koriyama is smack bang in the middle of Japan and the scale of tsunami required to reach
              there from the ocean would be so great that the cause of the tsunami (quake, asteroid, whatever) would render any
              preparation or plans irrelevant anyway ]
      -- Don't live at a low elevation, because even if you're some miles inland a tsunami can still get at you [ as happened in Japan ]
      -- This includes not living nearby a river that runs to the sea for obvious reasons

      Oh, and I moved me and mine back to my native Scotland - good, solid, ancient and most importantly, inert land.
  • I think I'm sufficiently prepared for any likely disaster.

    I'm not really at threat from earthquakes - the biggest one in recent history was only 5.8. Hurricanes are more common, but more to country folk (with the trees and lengthy loss of power - now that I live downtown, I'm not worried about that). Floods are a risk, but I live fairly high up on the hills so I should be decently protected from that. Any tsunami that can make it 100km inland is going to kill me no matter what, so no use prepping for that.

  • I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so the risk of a major quake that will disrupt power, water and roads is very real. I have 12 one gallon bottles of water in their boxes bought when they were on sale for a buck a piece. I store it in my basement next to the outside door so I can probably get to them even if the house has major structural issues.

    Water is important. You can live for a week or more without food. But no water will do you in after a few days. In a major earthquake, it is very likely tha

  • by ciurana (2603) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @05:06PM (#47743853) Homepage Journal

    Here you go: http://eugeneciurana.com/fotki... [eugeneciurana.com] -- that's a photo of the stashes we have in our home in Acapulco and in San Francisco. Both are in active seismic zones, and likely to get hit by some disaster at some point.

    Since you can see most of the contents, I rather tell you about our guidelines for disaster preparedness:

    * Have enough supplies to subsist for up to 7 days, normal calorie intake, for everyone in the family
    * Ditto for water
    * Tool box with emergency tools (wrench for gas and water valves, pliers, screw drivers, a couple of Leatherman tools), matches, and
    * Solid alcohol stove and several refills
    * Full first aid kit including gauze, ice packs, antiseptics, anti-diarrhea pills, etc. and a sewing kit
    * Crank radios and flashlights
    * Battery operated perimeter lamps
    * Assorted Cyalume sticks in green, white, blue, and red colors
    * Deck of cards, puzzles, etc. to kill the time

    The food is all either canned or dehydrated, and it works way better than MREs. The only thing we'd miss are fresh fruits; we even have powdered milk. Every year around Dec/Jan I consciously cook with all the things in the food stash that are within ~6 months of recommended use by date. All those things are replenished and ready to go. We found that most cans and dehydrated food have an approximate 18-24 months duration, so we don't go on the Spam and etc. diet more than every other year for more than 2 or 3 days. Plus it's fun readying everything and testing, etc.

    Last night -- the earthquake woke my g/f up (we were in our SF home). The bookshelves rattled a bit, and I was wondering if the quake had been strong enough to knock my motorcycle off the center stand, but the toddler was fine and slept through it, power never faltered, and otherwise it was a nice and uneventful evening.

    I lived through several earthquakes in my life (in fact, all my life I lived in seismic zones) so I'll be happy to address questions, if any.

    Cheers!

  • Survival guy (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is my check list of things to do in the event of local/national disaster:

    1. Head to the nearest Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco or whatever and pick-up 20 lbs. of white or brown rice and 20 lbs. of pinto beans. White rice has a better storage life while brown rice has more nutritional benefits Ã" your choice.

    2. While youÃ(TM)re there grab 5 lbs. mixed beans, 5 lbs. of white sugar, 5 lbs. of iodized salt, one gallon of olive oil (can be frozen to extend shelf-life), 5 lbs. oats, 10 lbs. each of white

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @05:12PM (#47743881) Homepage
    Yep, my Lootin Bag is there and all accounted for.
  • Not living anyplace earthquake prone, but generally prepared.

    2 Generators (need to convert one or both to propane since that stores well)
    A couple months supply of water, plus a reliable spring on property.
    A few months on food. (just regular sundries that get rotated through)

    It really surprises me when a blizzard happens and people are running to stock up. Sure I make a french toast run (Milk Eggs Bread) as boxed milk is expensive to regularly use, eggs well they go bad and powered eggs same as milk, and b

  • by sk999 (846068) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @05:33PM (#47743983)

    It pays to prepare, even if you don't live in a quake-prone area. I've felt 7 quakes in all and most have been while I was on the road, including yesterday's Chile quake, when I was in the Santiago airport. It was strong enough that the staff came through later to make sure everyone was OK and to admonish everyone that they should have stayed away from the windows. The duty free shop was shut down, so I guess the lesson is to get your shopping out of the way sooner rather than waiting.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @06:09PM (#47744121) Homepage Journal
    I have 3 identical Backpacks that contain the following 1 Pump Action Shot Gun 1 .45 handgun 10 boxes of ammo for each gun 1 machete 1 Spyder hunting/Utility knife Magnesium Firestarter LED Flashlight Compass a couple dozen dehydrated meals Sumo mini cooker 4 propane cans for teh Sumo 2 gallons of Water A couple pouches of Beef Jerky Bivy Sack Tarp 2 20" lengths of nylon rope 1 travel sized 1st Aid kit I keep one in my Car, one at home in the Hall Closet and one as a GeoStash out in an outlaying sparsely populated area I can get to by foot if needed. The contents of these bags are very versatile and will cover me in the case of Zombie Apocalypse, Governmental Collapse/Tyranny, Alien Invasion and oh yes... Earth Quakes
  • I have no need to prepare for earthquakes. I do have a plan for Hurricanes. The good thing about Hurricanes is you can see them coming. So I just keep a Hurricane plan. In general I do not keep water bottles just water storage containers. I have found I do not drink the water bottles so that is wasteful.
    The plan:
    1) Keep staples such as rice, noodles, and beans in pantry and a supply of batteries. (that plus food in freezer is usually enough for 3/5 days.
    2) Fill freezer with water jugs (old milk
  • ... on sheep, potable water and tradable women.

  • Data shmata. I didn't give two farts about my data. Here's my experience from the Christchurch NZ quakes. First, before the quakes, look around your house and pretend you were Hulk and wanted to throw furniture around. This is the stuff you have to secure : bookcases, televisions, freestanding pantries and wardrobes, fish tanks. After the quake, we lost power for a few days, fresh water for a month, and weren't allowed to flush the toilet for three months. I had 20 litres of fresh water which was enough f

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