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December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Step 1: Secure it now
Reducing and/or eliminating hazards throughout your home, neighbourhood, workplaces and school can greatly reduce your risk of injury or death following the next earthquake or other disaster. Conduct a “hazard hunt” to help identify and fix things such as unsecured television, computers, bookcases, furniture, unstrapped water heaters, etc. Securing these items now will help to protect you tomorrow.


Step 2: Make a plan
Planning for an earthquake, terrorist attack, or other emergency is not much different from planning for a party or vacation. Make sure that your emergency plan includes evacuation and reunion plans; your out-of-state contact person’s name and number; the location of your emergency supplies and other pertinent information. By planning now, you will be ready for the next emergency.


Step 3: Make disaster kits
Everyone should have disaster supplies kits stored in accessible locations at home, at work and in your vehicle. Having emergency supplies readily available can reduce the impact of an earthquake, a terrorist incident or other emergency on you and your family. Your disaster supplies kits should include food, water, flashlights, portable radios, batteries, a first aid kit, cash, extra medications, a whistle, fire extinguisher, etc.


Step 4: Is your place safe?
Most houses are not as safe as they could be. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, there are things that you can do to improve the structural intergrity of youe home. Some of the things that you might consider checking include inadequate foundations, unbraced crippe walls, soft first stories, unreinforced masonry and vulnerable pipes. Consult a contractor or engineer to help you identify your building’s weaknesses and begin to fix them now.


Step 5: Drop, cover, and hold on
Learn what to do during an earthquake, whether you’re at home, at work, at school or just out and about. Taking the proper actions, such as “Drop, Cover and Hold on”, can save live and reduce your risk of death or injury. During earthquakes, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly. Be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.


Step 6: Check it out
One of the first things you should do following a major disaster is to check for injuries and damages that need immediate attention. Make sure you are trained in first aid and in damage assessment techniques. You should be able to administer first aid and to identify hazards such as damaged gas, water, sewage and electrical lines. Be prepared to report damage to city or county government.


Step 7: Communicate and recover
Following a major disaster, communication will be an important step in your recovery efforts. Turn on your portable radio for information and safety advisories. If your home is damaged, contact your insurance agent right away to begin your claims process. For most Presidentially declared disasters, resources will also be available from federal, state, and local government agencies.

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Earthquakes can be frightening for everyone, but they can be even more traumatic for children if they do not know what to do. It is important to give children guidance that may not only help them reduce their fears, but save their lives.

Talk to Children:
Earthquakes can be far less scary to children when they are prepared. It is vital to talk to them and explain how to respond if one occurs.

  • Use positive language
  • Tell children what to do, instead of what not to do
  • Avoid discussing horrific events and gruesome details
  • Repeat key messages at least three times. Children tend to remember things they have heard more than once.

Plan with Children:
Be sure to include children in the emergency process. This only better prepares them for survival, but may also lighten the burden on parents or guardians during an earthquake. When children know what to do, everyone can keep a sense of calm.

  • It’s vital to be sure that children know when and how to dial emergency numbers (i.e., 9-1-1 in America, or 1-1-1 in New Zealand). You can practice using a toy phone or pictures. Remember, you should never contact the number unless there is an actual emergency
  • Children should know important information about themselves in the event that they are separated from adults. Teach your children their last name, home address, and the phone number of the family’s emergency contact
  • Have them recite this information often to ensure that they know it when they need to. You should also have your child practice calling the family’s emergency contact
  • Help kids understand that many people can help them in an emergency situation – including strangers. This may keep your child from resisting aid in their time of need.

Fear and life-altering trauma:
Feelings of fear before, during, and after an earthquake, are natural – for both adults and children. But children look to adults for help and how you react affects how children react. If you react with alarm, children are more likely to become distressed. If you remain calm, your child may have a less sense of fear and feel more confident in your ability to protect them.

A child’s fears also may stem from his or her imagination and you should take these feelings seriously, because a child who feels afraid is afraid. Your words and actions can provide reassurance. When talking with your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable.

When you’re sure that danger has passed, concentrate on your child’s emotional needs by asking the child what’s uppermost in his or her mind. Having children participate in the family’s recovery activities will help them feel that their life will return to “normal.” Your response during this time may have a lasting impact.

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

For seniors, it is more important than ever to be prepared for earthquakes. Disasters can strike suddenly, at anytime and anywhere. Whether you live alone or depend on a caregiver, it is vital to have a plan for what to do before, during, and after an earthquake. Remember, preparing today can make a big difference tomorrow.

Plan for Your Needs:
Protect yourself by planning ahead for earthquakes. Discuss emergency plans with family, friends and neighbours. It is also important to let them know about your risks and vulnerabilities. In addition to the standard items that should be in your emergency kit, you should consider storing your supplies in a container or bag that has wheels. You should also label any equipment – such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers – that you would need with your name, address, and phone numbers.

When creating your emergency plans, know the answers to the following questions and plan accordingly.

  • Do you live alone?
  • Do you drive or own a car?
  • How good is your sense of smell?
  • Do you have any physical, medical, thinking or learning limitations?
  • Has your sense of hearing or vision decreased?
  • Are you reliant upon any medical equipment?
  • Are you reliant upon a caregiver?

You should also be informed about your community’s disaster plan. Ask local officials about your area’s response and evacuation plans in the event of an emergency. If you do not own a vehicle or drive, find out what their plans for those evacuating without private transportation. It is also a good idea to evacuate with a neighbour or someone living in close proximity of your home. If you receive home care, speak with your case manager to see what his or her plan is in times of emergency and how he or she can assist with you.

It’s also a good idea to connect with a group in your neighbourhood, such as a neighbourhood watch, community block association, or faith-based organisation. Even if you feel you cannot become a member, let them know your needs and ask them how they could assist with your disaster plan. If available, take advantage of registration systems in your area for those who need help during community emergencies.

December 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The so-called Big One, a massive earthquake looming in California’s future, is not a manner of “if,” but “when,” experts say. Earlier this year, a new tool to help save time and possibly lives was introduced to thousands of residents in the San Fernando Valley.

In the aftermath of a major quake, first responders will work to get to residents in need of help. In those crucial first moments, early information and clear communication could be life saving.

The plan is to get a sign with “OK” emblazoned on one side, and “HELP” scrawled on the other side to every household in Los Angeles. After a massive earthquake, phone lines will likely be down. By putting up one of those two signs, residents will be able to communicate.

The signs will also help the fire department and first responders, including certified emergency response teams, decide how to allocate limited resources.

There is a very thin line covering the city – 951 people covering the city of 470 square miles and 4 million residents. There’s an estimated 1600 fires within the first hour after the earthquake. Over 53,000 people in the region will need transport to emergency medical facilities.

In this scenario, the aftershocks are just as worrisome as the initial temblor.

So the need for Southern California to prepare as families and communities is critical.

It could be the difference between life and death.

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

At the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco earlier this month, scientists presented the latest evidence tying the disposal of wastewater from shale gas hydrofracking to increased earthquakes.

Some of the U.S. states, including Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado, have experienced a significant rise in seismic activity over the last few years, coinciding with a boom in fracking – a process that forces gas from hard-to-reach underground deposits by injecting water and chemicals into shale rock. Fracking produces huge quantities of wastewater that is typically disposed of in deep wells. But the degree to which the disposal of wastewater from fracking operations has cause the unusual seismic activity is still up for debate among scientists.

The question matters because most states don’t consider earthquake risk when allowing gas drilling companies to dispose of large volumes of chemical-laden drilling water.

Hydrofracking produces far more wastewater than conventional oil and gas drilling. So how to dispose of this waste safely is becoming a bigger question as fracking expands.

Scientists believe that wastewater injection wells, which are often the cheapest disposal option for drilling companies, are the main quake culprit. Today, 90% of fracking wastewater in the U.S. is disposed of in injection wells, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

Since 2010, Oklahoma residents have felt more than 250 of them – many more than the one to three reported each year in previous decades.

The largest ever in the state’s history, a magnitude 5.7 quake in 2011 that damaged 200 buildings, was “likely caused by fluid injection,” concluded University of Oklahoma, Columbia University, and U.S. Geological Survey scientists in presenting their data at the conference.

The larger picture is complicated, however, because even before hydrofracking became common in the last decade, oil and gas drillers and mining companies have used tens of thousands of injection wells in these regions.

There are alternatives for wastewater disposal, such as processing the water at existing or dedicated treatment plants. The U.S. EPA is now evaluating national standards for treating water in this way, and this option may be more often considered if earthquake concerns continue to grow, and if scarcer supplies make water itself a more valuable resource.

Manmade earthquakes, triggered by underground injections, have been known for a long time, at least since the 1960s, when an Army waste disposal well triggered an earthquake that cause major damage in Denver.

December 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The Smithsonian National Zoo put out a comprehensive list of how animals at the zoo reacted to a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centred in Virginia in 2011. Here’s a look at how they responded:

Great Apes
-       The earthquake hit the Great Ape House and Think Tank Exhibit during afternoon feeding time
-       About five to ten seconds before the quake, many of the apes, including Kyle (an orangutan) and Kojo (a Western lowland gorilla), abandoned their food and climbed to the top of the tree-like structure in the exhibit
-       About three seconds before the quake, Mandara (a gorilla) let out a shriek and collected her baby, Kibibi, and moved to the top of the tree structure as well
-       Iris (an orangutan) began “belch vocalizing” – an unhappy noise normally reserved for extreme irritation

Small Mammals
-       The red ruffed lemurs sounded an alarm call about 15 minutes before the quake and then again just after it occurred
-       The howler monkeys sounded an alarm call just after the earthquake
-       The black-and-rufous giant elephant shrew hid in his habitat and refused to come out for afternoon feeding

-       All the snakes began writhing during the quake (normally, they remain inactive during the day)
-       Murphy, the zoo’s Komodo dragon, sought shelter inside

-       One of the volunteers at the Inverterbrate Exhibit was feeding the cuttlefish and it was not responsive. The water is normally very calm in the tank, but the earthquake cause the tank to shake and created waves, which distracted the cuttlefish during feeding

-       Keepers were feeding the beavers and hooded mergansers (a species of duck) when the earthquake hit
-       The ducks immediately jumped into the pool
-       The beavers stopped eating, stood on their hind legs and looked around, then got into the water too
-       They all stayed in the water. Within an hour, some of the beavers returned to land to continue eating

Great Cats
-       The lion pride was outside. They all stood still and faced the building, which rattled during the quake. All settled down within minutes
-       Damai (a female Sumatran tiger) jumped at the start of the earthquake in a startled fashion. Her behviour returned to normal after the quake

Bird House
-       The Zoo has a flock of 64 flamingos. Just before the quake, the birds rushed about and grouped themselves together. They remained huddled during the quake

Front Royal
-       During the quake all Eld’s deer and tefted deer immediately ran out of the barns and appeared agitated
-       The Prezwalksi’s horses and scimitar-horned oryx hardly noticed although those that were inside did amble outside eventually
-       Immediately after the quake the female Eld’s deer herd began alarm calling until they were called by their keeper and subsequently all congregated in the corner of the pasture nearest the keeper for a short time

Giant Pandas
-       According to keepers, the giant pandas did not appear to respond to the earthquake

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

An Earthquake Early Warning System for the west coast of the United States is being developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with scientists at academic institutions including: California Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Washington. Under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, popularly known as the Stafford Act, the USGS has the Federal responsibility to issue alerts for earthquakes, to enhance public safety, and to reduce losses through effective forecasts and warnings. USGS currently issues rapid, automatic earthquake information via the Internet, email, text messages, and social media.

Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) uses existing seismic networks to detect moderate to large earthquakes very rapidly so that a warning can be sent before destructive seismic waves arrive to locations outside the area where the earthquake begins. These warnings allow people to take protective action and can also trigger automatic responses to safeguard critical infrastructure.

Such actions might include:
-       Allow people to drop, cover and hold on and grant businesses time to shut down and move workers to safe locations
-       Give medical professionals time to stop delicate procedures
-       Protect travellers by providing time for trains to slow or stop, for elevator doors to open, for bridge traffic to clear, for slowing or stopping traffic, and even stopping landings and takeoffs at airports
-       Enable emergency responders to prepare by opening fire station doors and starting generators

December 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Fire-fighters and other first responders rushing to collapsing buildings and disaster situations will soon have a new weapon in their arsenal, replacing dogs, cameras, and robots: a series of sensors that find individual molecules of sweat and spit coming from victims trapped under concrete, locating them by their emissions.

The high-tech emergency solution, which was unveiled in a research paper for the actually existing Journal of Breath Research, was created by a joint European team that reconfigured a series of commercially available detectors to hunt for unique human emanations. These sensors, normally used for scientific research, turned out to easily detect the breath, sweat, and urine from volunteers who pretended to be disaster victims trapped in a collapsed building, even while the faux victims were stuck under simulated concrete. The sensors were able to detect carbon dioxide and ammonia, along with compounds such as acetone and isoprene, through air flumes.

The project was funded by the Second Generation Locator for Urban Search and Rescue Operations, a European Union-affiliated project devoted to cutting-edge first response research.
According to study co-author Paul Thomas of Britain’s Loughborough University, “this is the first scientific study on sensing systems that could detect trapped people.” Thomas emphasised that once the device is bought to market, it could replace the use of dogs to sniff for disaster victims–which is highly expensive and places both the handlers and the dogs at risk.

Given that this is the first study of its type, it will be quite some time before emergency first responders can take breath-and-sweat detectors to disaster scenes. A second round of tests is expected to begin in the near future with volunteers who will stay in a faux-collapsed building for an extended period of time; Thomas and his team expect to find a different set of compounds coming off of victims in extended-duration building collapse situations, situations that would mimic what rescuers found in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. It will be several years before the first technology incorporating these discoveries makes it to market–but the European Union (among others) is paying close attention.

December 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Seismic strengthening could be the way of the future and a standard in all new buildings.

Seismic strengthening in buildings refers to making the structures resilient to seismic activity. This can come in the form of external braces, infill shear trusses or any other materials that can make a structure more solid.

Through research and a better understanding of the seismic demand on buildings, seismic strengthening can improve the safety of a building in an earthquake. In 2007 carbon fibre reinforced plastic straps were used in a building in Dubendorf to improve its safety and seismic strength.

Director of Hampton Jones, a New Zealand property firm, Brian Jones believes new seismic research offers valuable insights into building design and the performance of construction materials during earthquakes. This could present a huge economic benefit for countries who partake in seismic strength.

Seismic strengthened buildings could be seen as more valuable as well as giving a country the capability to ‘bounce back’ quicker due to the lessened repairs that would have to be done on affected buildings.

“We are becoming experts on how to build buildings that are economically resilient after an earthquake so that they can be quickly and economically repaired after a seismic event,” said Jones.

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Image: https://www.merchline.com/signalnoise/productdisplay.12623.p.htm – All profits will be donated to Japanese disaster relief after following the 8.9 earthquake on March 11.


According to an article from ‘CNN Money,’ donations to international disasters from not-for-profit organisations have lagged behind in the United States. Despite the international widespread news about Japan’s earthquake and tsunami rocking the world, in the first week of the disaster and its aftermath people still didn’t donate to not-for-profit agencies assisting in the relief as much as they did for previous international disasters.

The first week is critically important, because that sets the pace. After the first week, the momentum will be gone and once it starts to fade, most people sadly tune away.

To put this into perspective, the figures of donations received in the first seven days of a disaster from the people of the United States are as follows: -
-       Hurricane Katrina: $514 million
-       Haiti Earthquake: $275 million
-       September 11: $209 million
-       Asian Tsunami: $127 million
-       Japan Earthquake & Tsunami: $87 million

In and after those first seven days, it wasn’t the every day person who (ideally) empathised with the situation who stepped up, it was corporations and the not-for-profit charities themselves; both of whom donating to Japan in addition to the $87 million already being sent over.

Additional donations are as follows: -
-       American Red Cross: $64 million
-       Save the Children: $5.8 million
-       World Vision U.S: $3 million
-       The Salvation Army: $2.5 million
-       Various companies and corporations: $151 million

However it has been recorded that more than a dozen relief groups, including Doctors Without Borders, said they were not actively raising money for relief efforts at all.

Despite that, with the assistance and kindness from corporations and not-for-profit organisations, Japan’s relief donation total came to just over $313 million – and this total was only from the United States. Japan received large donations from other prominent countries in aid of relief as well.

It is encouraging to see that in the wake of a disaster, the world can put aside any differences and come together to help each other. Whether it is cash or in-kind donations, or sending over volunteers to assist in rescue and rebuilding.

So many amazing stories have come out from the goodness of people in situations like these. These acts of kindness are awe-inspiring and deeply motivational for future generations.


Full ‘CNN Money’ article by Jessica Dickler, http://tinyurl.com/brjat9k

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