While these nations are thousands of miles away from Santa Cruz County and California, one must keep in mind that we are not protected by distance.
We live, work and play in one of the most active earthquake areas of the world. The 1989 Loma Prieta quake gave us a small taste of what can happen.
That quake lasted only 15 seconds. It was centered on the San Andreas Fault, which, of course, is the largest and most famous in California. However, we are surrounded by faults, most of which have not had a large shift in hundreds of years. You can see the area at http://quake.usgs.gov/recenteqs/FaultMaps/122-37.htm.
The San Gregorio Fault lies just offshore and has the potential for earthquakes of 7.0 and larger. Because it is offshore, it also has the potential to create tsunamis, which would give us little or no time for coastal preparations before they hit.
The Hayward Fault sits east of the San Andreas Fault and north of us. However, it has not had a major event since 1868.
There are many others around us that also have potential for devastating earthquakes.
Are we prepared?
If you were around for the ’89 quake, you’ll remember the effects: Highway 17 was closed by a slide. Highway 1 was closed south of Watsonville due to a collapsing roadway. The most damage occurred in the cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
These types of disasters can quickly overwhelm emergency services. Police, fire and ambulances can and will be delayed or totally unable to reach you for days. Basic needs, such as food and water, may be hard to come by. Your own home may become unlivable.
The time to plan is now — not when it happens. Creating a plan for yourself and your family, putting together survival kits that include water, packaged foods, batteries, flashlights and other essential needs, having a plan for evacuation, planning for your pets, the list goes on and on: These are things to do today.
Another way to help yourself be prepared is to take the free classes offered at Felton Fire Station, where the department offers Community Emergency Response Team classes. It is not necessary to become a team member, but the class teaches you disaster preparation, utility control, medical triage, disaster first aid, psychological first aid, communications, incident command, fire extinguisher use and light search and rescue. It is a 23-hour class, with sessions mostly in the evenings.
The department also offers free first aid and CPR classes, usually the third Saturday of the month.
For information: www.feltonfire.com or 335-4422.
• Ray Soler is the disaster-preparedness
officer for Felton Fire Protection District.