Are You Prepared for Disaster?

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Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi and famed former 49ers NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice attended the Make Your Game Plan disaster preparedness event at the California Academy of Sciences on April 18, organized by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Red Cross and PG&E.

Representatives from the San Francisco Fire Department, the American Red Cross, FEMA and PG&E joined Jerry Rice and Kristi Yamaguchi.

Representatives from the San Francisco Fire Department, the American Red Cross, FEMA and PG&E joined Jerry Rice and Kristi Yamaguchi. Photo by Matt Nauman.

In front of the Academy entrance doors,  booths lined up  to distribute first aid kits, cards, and leaflets to attendees.

A memorable exhibit at the event was “Feel the Shake,” designed to simulate the experience of the 1906 and 1989 San Francisco earthquakes. In its Shakespeare like simulation of The Great San Francisco Earthquake and The Quake of ’89, upside down wine glasses and paintings tremble to mimic what goes on during the shifting of tectonic plates.

In the spirit of the event, here are some tips on preparing for a possible earthquake scenario.


Disaster Preparedness Tips

Relationships Matter – Get to know your neighbors, get trained and get organized. After an earthquake, you and your neighbors will rely on each other for help. Develop these friendships now, and find out who has special skills or needs. Discuss your emergency plans, get trained, and share what you’ve learned about preparing for and surviving an earthquake.

Water - Here’s a rule of thumb: One Day, One Gallon. Prepare at least 1 gallon of drinkable, clean water per day. In the first 72 hours of an emergency, 12 gallons (48 L) can stem the tide for a family of four. As sanitation, cooking and drinking will have to go on in the event of a disaster, don’t neglect this very important step.

Food - Pack high energy, non-perishable foods which require little to no cooking. Pick complex carbohydrates such as energy bars and canned beans. Prepare protein rich foods like peanut butter. Allot an average of at least 1600 calories per day per person. Include infant food if needed.

Handy items to have in case of a disaster.

Handy items to have in case of a disaster.

Essential Tools - Include everyday tools to meet basic needs. Stash utensils and tools for cooking, eating, communicating and staying safe. Don’t forget to include a hand-operated can opener in your kit – as well as flashlight, batteries, fire extinguisher, crank radio, gas-shutoff wrench and a local map. Duct tape is always handy.

First Aid and Hygiene – Be sure to include a well-stocked first aid kit and personal medications for your family, as well as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and toilet paper. Pack enough to last a minimum of 72 hours.


After the Quake

House fires – Stock a fire extinguisher to put out small fires. Evacuate the area and call 911 in case of bigger fires.

Communication – Send text messages if landline channels are jammed. Take advantage of social media and outgoing voicemails to let your loved ones know that you’re safe.

Power lines – Stay away from downed power lines.

Broken Glass – Protect yourself with sturdy shoes and gloves to clear areas with shattered glass.

Check For Hazards - After a quake, make sure your family and home are safe. When the shaking stops, you may still be at risk. Check for injuries and provide first aid as best as you can. Inspect your home for damaged walls and floors – but only if it’s safe to enter the building. If you find broken electric wires or smell gas leaks, shut off the power or gas.

Tsunami Alert – If you’re near shore, head uphill. Tsunami waves from local quakes can reach the shore in minutes. If you’re on a beach or in a low coastal area when a quake hits, move to higher ground immediately. You’re at risk if you hear a warning broadcast, see the water receding, or feel shaking for more than 20 seconds. Some tsunamis may take many hours to arrive, so remain on higher ground.

If your toilets stop working…  Line a toilet or bucket with plastic; then properly dispose of the bagged waste.

Seek Out Safe Water (your home has hidden water sources) – If you’re running short on water for drinking and hygiene, you can check a few surprising spots in your home. See if you can identify these hiding places for drinkable water.

Check For Gas Leaks (sniff the air and listen for a hissing sound) – If you smell or hear a natural gas leak after a quake, use an adjustable crescent wrench to close your main gas valve. Don’t try to turn the gas back on later; wait for the  gas company to make repairs and restart your service.


For local safety tips check out these sites:


Register now to get emergency information by text or e-mail.

Red Cross First Aid, CPR and AED Training

Get certified to offer life saving skills in any situation until advanced medical help arrives.

NERT (Neighborhood Emergency Response Team)

Learn emergency response skills and be part of a neighborhood response team alongside the San Francisco Fire Department.

San Francisco Department of Emergency Management

Visit this comprehensive disaster preparedness website and learn how to plan for earthquakes and other emergencies.


California Earthquake Authority

Estimate your cost for earthquake insurance and discover tips for reducing seismic damage to your home’s structure and contents.

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