Recent Earthquakes are a Reminder to be Prepared!

July 8, 2019
by Lindsay B. Call

Recent Earthquakes are a Reminder to be Prepared!

Last week’s earthquakes are an important reminder that disasters can happen at any time and being prepared for the next big one is critical. This time we were lucky in Santa Monica, but next time we may not be.   

Start planning now by following these steps to being prepared for the next earthquake or other disasters.  

STEP 1: Build a Household Disaster Kit 

Create a family scavenger hunt to gather items for your kit. Manage costs by buying an extra gallon of water, canned food, or package of batteries each time you go to the grocery store. Here are some basic items to include in your kit. When you’re finished, put the items in an old suitcase or backpack. Then be sure to check your kit and change any expired items at least twice a year. For more disaster kit information, visitsmgov.net/OEM. 

STEP 2: Make an Emergency Action Plan

Prepare yourself and your loved ones for an earthquake by finding earthquake-safe locations in your home and workplace where you can “Drop, cover and hold on!”.  

Know the hazards in your specific neighborhood. Use CalOES My Hazards tool to check the earthquake and tsunami risks in your neighborhood. This is also a great resource for directions on how to prevent earthquake damage inside your home.  

In case you are apart from your family members, roommates or friends during an earthquake, have two locations where your family could meet if you had to evacuate your home or if you had to evacuate your neighborhood. Ensure all individuals are familiar with these locations. 

In a major earthquake event, you and your neighbors are the first responders. The Office of Emergency Management, in partnership with the American Red Cross, has launched a program called Map Your Neighborhood to help apartment buildings or neighborhood blocks create disaster plans for the first hour after a disaster. If you’re interested in hosting this event for your neighborhood, email OEM@smgov.net 

STEP 3: Sign up for SM Alerts  

SM Alerts allows the City of Santa Monica to provide you with critical information in an emergency situation. When a natural disaster, police activity or other emergency requires you to act to protect yourself and your family, you'll receive texts, emails or phone calls that let you know what to do.   

You may register as many devices as you like to receive SM Alerts - home, mobile, or business phone, email, text messages, and hearing-impaired receiving devices. To receive SM Alerts for your home or business, visit smalerts.net and register for “emergency” alerts. Residents and businesses may also register for Public Safety notices that provide situational awareness on immediate safety concerns in our community. 

STEP 4: Connect With Us

After an earthquake, it may be difficult to access information through traditional channels. In addition to receiving SM Alerts, please follow us on social media to ensure you receive the most up to date information during and after a disaster.   

In major earthquakes, internet and phone service may be temporarily unavailable. Please be sure to have a radio in your disaster kit. After a major disaster event, Santa Monica Emergency Operations Centers will broadcast critical information using Santa Monica AM 1680.  

STEP 5: Get Involved to Support Your Community  

The Santa Monica Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a community-based group of volunteers that have completed a federally recognized training course taught by Santa Monica public safety personnel and first responders. The training is a comprehensive program detailing ways to assist family, friends, neighbors, and your community in small or large-scale disasters. This training is free, and open to anyone that lives or works in Santa Monica, over the age of 18.  

Once you've completed the CERT training, your effectiveness and contribution in a disaster depends on you. Although there is no obligation, CERT was designed to enlist community members as a volunteer resource to assist City officials in a time of need.  

Some examples of when CERT volunteers may be activated include:  

  • A Citywide disaster event  
  • Los Angeles Marathon and other Santa Monica special events 
  • Additionally, CERT members may be called on to assist in Public Safety trainings, exercises, and incidents based on need  

For more information on how to register for the CERT course in August, please visit Santa Monica’s CERT page 

STEP 6: Determine if Your Home is Seismically Safe  

Earthquake preparedness is a part of life in Southern California. Damage to vulnerable buildings, physical injury, and loss of life are the most apparent threats from earthquakes, as well as significant economic loss.  

City Council adopted the seismic retrofit ordinance in March 2017, to implement the Seismic Retrofit Program (‘Program’). The Program acknowledges the reality that exists within our region and proactively seeks to strengthen existing older buildings and enhance the security and safety of their occupants. 

Nearly 2,000 commercial and multi-family residential buildings in the City were identified as potentially seismically vulnerable in need of possible structural improvement and are required to comply with the Program. 

For more information about Santa Monica’s seismic retrofit program, visit www.smgov.net/seismic.   

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