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January 31, 2012 > Preparing for an earthquake

Preparing for an earthquake

Submitted By Hayward Fire Department

Hayward Fire Department was recently chosen to help present information to the public on disaster preparedness. To listen to the KCBS Radio Podcast on Disaster Preparedness, visit

We know why earthquakes occur in the Bay Area. Two of the earth's largest tectonic plates meet and slowly move past each other at an average rate of 5mm per year. Fewer than 10 percent of households have any type of disaster plans even though at least eight faults in the Bay Area can cause earthquakes of magnitude 6.7 or greater.

There are many things to consider prior to a large-scale earthquake - your home may be damaged/condemned and unsafe to occupy; your children may be at school while family members are at work; roads may be impassable due to heavy traffic, damaged overhead BART tracks and overpasses; water will be in short supply; utilities may be unavailable for days if not weeks; gasoline may not be pumped due to power outage or a shortage of supply; garbage and sewer services may be interrupted for some time; your financial situation could worsen, your income may be affected by delayed payroll and electronic direct deposits, credit cards will not be read by electronic readers; rental housing may be unavailable due to high demand and damage; pets are not allowed in Red Cross Shelters or in most shelters.

These are just a few immediate impacts in the aftermath of an earthquake. A good, well-rehearsed plan will help determine how you and your family cope in a disaster situation. It is not only what you do but how and why you do it so you and your family are safe, have peace of mind, are in control and responsible. The goal is survival, recovery and a speedy return to normality.

Typically 55 percent of the injuries sustained in a quake are not from structural collapse but caused by objects within the structure, such as items on shelves. Use museum wax or earthquake putty under items to secure them. Keep heavy or fragile items on lower shelves to help avoid serious injury. Secure your home against the shaking by holding a home earthquake drill, assembling a disaster supply kit, bolting large furniture, such as a bookcase, to the wall studs. Secure hanging objects, such as mirrors and framed pictures, with closed hooks or hang soft items in seating areas.

When the shaking begins know how to "Drop, Cover and Hold-on" and continue to hold until the shaking stops!

Remember that methods like standing in a doorway, running outside, and "triangle of life" are all considered dangerous and are not recommended.

Different geographical areas in the East Bay have additional threats of which you need to be aware. To see the threat of a disaster in your area, such as Earthquake, active faults, liquefaction, flood, wildfire, landslide, tsunamis, etc., visit the Association of Bay Area Governments' Earthquake and Hazards program at for information that will help you prepare.

For more information on Disaster Preparedness and safety-related materials, visit, click on the red "Disaster Preparedness" button or contact the Hayward Fire Department Emergency Services Office at (510) 583-4948.

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