California is earthquake country. We all know that. Still, the magnitude-6.0 quake that struck Napa early Sunday was the largest we’ve felt in 25 years and brought back memories of the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake that devastated the Bay Area in 1989.
The damage in Napa is not nearly as great as the Loma Prieta quake that required the reconstruction of the Cypress Freeway and half of the Bay Bridge. However, it is substantial and lingering with scores of buildings deemed uninhabitable, more than 200 injuries, substantial cleanup and a lack of fresh water because of main breaks.
It was felt all the way to Salinas and served as a wake-up call for all of us who may have forgotten nature’s way of reminding us of its power and force. Many of us have earthquake putty under our most valuable breakables and know to stand under a doorway away from windows when the earth starts shaking. Many also have a first-aid kit and some disaster supplies like canned food, batteries, a flashlight, blankets and water. But when was the last time you checked to make sure those supplies are fresh and ready to use? Do you have a seven-day supply of your medications? Do you have copies of your personal documents? Family and emergency contact information? A can opener? Cash?
Do you have a meet-up point for your family? An out-of-the-area emergency contact so family members can connect? Do you have a disaster plan? A backup disaster plan? Have you practiced those plans? Do your children know the plan?
Do any of your neighbors have plans or need special assistance in the case of an emergency?
Preparing for the unexpected is not the most exciting of activities but one of the more important ones you can do to protect yourself, your family, your friends and your neighbors. And in the Bay Area, earthquakes should not be unexpected, but rather expected and inevitable. Sunday’s quake proved that. If you’re not prepared, get prepared. And if you’re already prepared, get better prepared. So where to start? A wealth of information can be found at smcready.org. That’s a good place to begin gathering information and getting yourself ready.