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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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Re:Things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> 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.

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