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Are You Ready For The Next Big One?

An earthquake destroyed a water pipeline in the Midwest.

Credit: Courtesy of the City of Riverside Blog, Missouri

Above: An earthquake destroyed a water pipeline in the Midwest.


What should we do to prepare for the next big earthquake that will hit California? We speak to earthquake and disaster preparedness experts about how San Diego could be affected by the next large earthquake to hit the state. We also learn about how people can participate in a statewide earthquake drill happening later in the week.

The Great California Shake Out will take place this Thursday, October 15 at 10:15 a.m. All Californians are encouraged to participate in the drill. For more information about what you can do to prepare, go to

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. The South Pacific has been rocked by a series of large earthquakes in recent weeks. Places like Samoa and Indonesia have been shaken with 7 and 8 magnitude quakes and at least one powerful tsunami. Just last week, the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu were shaken by nine moderate to major earthquakes. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured by the quakes and the giant waves they generate. It's with this backdrop that California is about to conduct its yearly statewide earthquake drill called ‘The Great California Shake Out.’ The drill, here in San Diego and across the state, will take place this Thursday at 10:15 in the morning. Since there hasn't been a powerful earthquake felt in San Diego for awhile, emergency preparedness officials say there's a danger that we've become complacent. We may have forgotten all that good advice about storing supplies and having a family emergency earthquake plan.

Today, we'll talk about the San Diego Shake Out drill coming up this week, refresh our memories about the kind of earthquake preparation we all should do, and talk about what all that rumbling halfway around the world may mean to us, sitting on fault lines in Southern California. I’d like to welcome my guests. Ron Lane is director of the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. Ron, welcome to These Days.

RON LANE (Director, San Diego County Office of Emergency Services): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Dave Dalton is security director for the San Diego Natural History Museum. Dave, good morning.

DAVE DALTON (Security Director, San Diego Natural History Museum): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: And Dr. Pat Abbott is here. He’s Professor Emeritus of Geology at San Diego State University. Welcome, Pat.

DR. PAT ABBOTT (Professor Emeritus of Geology, San Diego State University): Morning.

CAVANAUGH: And we’d like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. If you have a question about earthquake preparedness or about the likelihood of a big quake here, give us a call. Here’s the number, 1-888-895-5727, it’s 1-888-895-KPBS. Ron, tell us a little bit about this ‘Great California Shake Out’ drill that’s happening on Thursday.

LANE: Okay. It was started last year. We had a major Shakeout exercise that involved all the response agencies around the state and it was such a big success that they’ve decided to make it an annual event, so they’ve marked it as ’10/15 10:15,’ so on October 15th at 10:15, we’re asking everybody to go through what they would do and practice the first few seconds of reaction during an earthquake because we find that earthquakes are survivable and all the evidence shows that if you take the right steps, and it needs to be instinctive. We want people to, once this shaking starts, know exactly what they need to do and get away from dangerous falling objects and everything and duck, cover and hold on. So it’s a great opportunity to do that.

CAVANAUGH: And I would imagine, since it’s Thursday morning, a lot of schools and offices are involved in this?

LANE: Yes, we have over 480,000 people registered on the website, the Shakeout website, and we encourage – almost all the schools are participating. We have over 80 school districts participating, so we anticipate that almost every school in the county will be going through this exercise.

CAVANAUGH: And Dave Dalton, you are security director for the San Diego Natural History Museum, and you have a pretty big evacuation drill at – earthquake drill and evacuation planned for Balboa Park on Thursday. Tell us about that.

DALTON: Yes, we are participating fully in the drop, cover and hold on drill at 10:15. And then following that, about 10:20, we have encouraged every facility in Balboa Park, there are 24 nonprofit, cultural facilities there, and we’ve encouraged everyone to participate in an evacuation drill. We feel that it’s part of an annual emergency exercise; this is an excellent way to practice the skills that Ron spoke of where it become instinctive. In a real emergency such as a large earthquake, we want people to react just by instinct. And so evacuating the facility and evacuating all of the facilities in the park to pre-designated safety meeting areas is a very critical part of that exercise.

CAVANAUGH: Dr. Pat Abbott, we always hear that the next big one could hit at any time. Where, or along what fault line, is it most likely that the next big earthquake will take place?

DR. ABBOTT: Well, of course, California has many opportunities for earthquakes but a recent probabilistic analysis of where the next big earthquake would be statistically expected in the state of California is our own section of the San Andreas Fault. That would be from the Salton Sea past Palm Springs, through the San Bernardino city limits, up the Cajon Pass. We anticipate that it would be a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. We know what’s coming. It could be this afternoon but might not be for 75 years. That’s the part we’re shaky on, exact timing.

CAVANAUGH: And what parts of San Diego County would be affected if, indeed, we had a large earthquake on that southern section of the San Andreas Fault?

DR. ABBOTT: Well, now that’s on the order, you know, 70, 80, 90 miles away, depending where you are but this is such a massive outpouring of energy that every single person in San Diego’s going to experience this. Now the ones that will feel it the most, because of the nature of the seismic waves that travel and carry energy for a long distance, will be people that are in tall buildings, on tall structures, and particularly if those happen to be sitting on soft sediment foundation, so tall buildings in Mission Valley, the 805 bridge going over the valley, they’ll be shaken the most and I’m not saying catastrophe or collapse or deaths or anything but just say that they’re going to have an experience they’ll never forget. And, hopefully, all of our building designs will perform as we anticipated.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Pat, most of the earthquakes that I’ve felt recently have been of that kind of pow!, you know, that just one big jolt kind of thing. Is that the kind of earthquake wave that you’re talking about? Or would this one be different?

DR. ABBOTT: Well, this would, indeed, be different. Now the kinds that we usually experience here, they’re from smaller earthquakes and you get that jolt, that high frequency energy that comes in and you get some very intense shaking that lasts for several seconds. This, though, this is – Visualize this. The – If the fault rips at the Salton Sea, like a zipper, and unzips past Palm Springs, through San Bernardino to Cajon Pass, that fault may actually be tearing for something like 90 seconds. That means intense seismic waves are going to be coming. So as where we’re used to diving underneath that desk or heavy table and holding onto the legs and wait several seconds until it’s over, this time the shaking might last 60 seconds or 90 seconds. And I think that’s something people need to file away in their heads so that they don’t get under there and freak out or panic or, you know, think the world’s coming to an end. Recognize this is a bigger earthquake, it’s going to send out these rolling waves that are going to keep people rocking and rolling for longer than they’ve ever experienced before. So have your mind set to that.

CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Dr. Pat Abbott and Dave Dalton and Ron Lane. We’re talking about the earthquake preparedness drill that takes place on Thursday. It’s called ‘The Great California Shake Out.’ And we are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727, 1-888-895-KPBS. Before I get to talking about what exactly we would do if we had one of those long-lasting earthquakes in San Diego, Pat, I do want to talk about what, if any, kind of chain reaction is there when one section of the earth, like in the South Pacific, has these tremendous earthquakes over a short period of time. Is there any kind of reaction in other fault line areas across – around the globe?

DR. ABBOTT: You know, it intuitively makes sense and we’re getting more and more ability to mathematically calculate some of these things. So now the one we just had there in Samoa and then the follow-up ones in Vanuatu, those might be related because they’re close enough together. Now, what’s going on in Indonesia, where we just had those magnitude 7 earthquakes, I suspect, and there’s evidence showing that, that these are really a reaction that magnitude 9.2 earthquake in December 2004. It’s kind of – these are kind of like slow falling dominoes. Remember, geologic time. You know, they don’t all just fall right before your eyes. But that tremendous movement there where, in 2004, the fault ruptured over an 800 mile length is – we’ve had several serious magnitude 7’s and even 8 earthquakes to the south of that area since that time, and I’m sure we will have more. So, yes, we are seeing that really large earthquakes do trigger, or can trigger, depends how ready, how stressed the other nearby faults are. Again, nearby faults. You’re not triggering things around the world or even in another – a next door country but within that region, yes, they can be triggered.

CAVANAUGH: Now I’m a little surprised to hear you talk about the San Andreas Fault because I largely think that’s, you know, Los Angeles’ problem because it’s up there and we usually think maybe Rose Canyon Fault is our problem. Tell us the varying risks of those two faults to San Diego.

DR. ABBOTT: Well, let’s jump over then to the Rose Canyon Fault.


DR. ABBOTT: Now, for us, it passes underneath the Coronado Bay Bridge, Interstate 5 runs right through the fault zone, and then the fault goes off shore there in La Jolla, stays off shore, comes back on shore up at Newport Beach and then it runs kind of along 405 where it’s called the Newport-Inglewood Fault. That northern part, the Newport-Inglewood end of it, that had the Long Beach earthquake in 1933, second deadliest earthquake in California history, magnitude 6.4. The southern end of that exact same fault is the one that passes through San Diego, so it’s only reasonable to expect the same thing to happen here. Now, the closeness, this is right in the heart of the city. That means every little bit of energy that’s released by that fault movement is dumped on the buildings of the town and that’s a lot of that high frequency, the shaking buildings, shaking energy that will really rock and roll even the short buildings. That kind of energy, the high frequency energy, tends not to travel so far. So if we jump back out to the San Andreas Fault with its 7.8, there’ll be a lot of that high frequency energy but just like a sprinter trying to go from the Salton Sea to San Diego, they’re going to tire out and lose energy on the way. Those waves won’t affect us so much. As I mentioned earlier, the tall buildings will feel it, the long period waves, the waves that are a second apart, two seconds apart, those slower, rolling waves, they will come in and shake the very, very tall buildings. So the short buildings are going to be intensely tested by the Rose Canyon Fault, the tall buildings by the San Andreas Fault.

CAVANAUGH: We’re talking about ‘The Great California Shake Out’ taking place later this week here in San Diego and across the state. Our number is 1-888-895-5727. Let’s talk to Susan in Balboa Park. Good morning, Susan, and welcome to These Days.

SUSAN (Caller, Balboa Park): Well, thank you. Over the last five or six years, I’ve heard from several very good, reliable sources that it is now known that people should not go under a desk in an earthquake but rather they should stand next to something that’s very strong. Something about if you go under a desk, you’ll be crushed by what falls on top of it and something about the energy waves just not working that way. You know, it was a big – kind of a big deal, you know, look what we’ve found, this is important, everybody get this.


SUSAN: What can you say about that?

CAVANAUGH: Thank you for that, Susan.

DR. ABBOTT: Well, this is what she’s describing is what’s called the Triangle of Life. And that is, that if you’re along the end of a desk or something or other, if the desk is crushed, you’re in a little space where you don’t get crushed. Now that’s not bad advice if you’re in Indonesia on vacation and you’re staying in one of their hotels – because what do we see in the news? We see where several cement floors come pancaking down on top of each other. And that’s – that advice maybe works for countries like Indonesia. That does not really apply to California. Our building codes are much more advanced than that. You think back to 1994 Northridge, 1989 Loma Prieta, you didn’t see a single building that pancaked like we see in Indonesia and other parts of the world. So the advice that Dave and Ron are giving here about getting underneath a desk, hanging onto the legs of that table or desk, because it’s going to be moving around the room, that’s what fits us best of all. And I might even mention one other thing that’s leftover from the 1800s where they used to advise everybody to go stand in the doorway back in the brick and adobe block days when the big, heavy wood timbers made the doorways stronger. These days, when you have these pliable aluminum doors, that’s not even good advice anymore. Get under that desk, get under that table. In California, that’s definitely the place to be.

CAVANAUGH: I want to talk with Ron and Dave about the latest thinking on earthquake preparedness and earthquake safety but we have to take a brief break. When we return, we’ll continue to talk about earthquakes and ‘The Great California Shake Out’ drill coming up this week. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.

# # #

(audio of earthquake sounds)

CAVANAUGH: Well, that’s what we’re talking about on These Days, a possible major earthquake here in San Diego. ‘The Great California Shake Out’ drill takes place on Thursday. I’d like to reintroduce my guests. Ron Lane is Director of the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. Dave Dalton, Security Director for the San Diego Natural History Museum, and Dr. Pat Abbott, Professor Emeritus of Geology at San Diego State University. I want to remind you, we are taking your phone calls at 1-888-895-5727. Now, Ron, I know at the County office of Emergency Services, you do all sorts of scenarios for different types of earthquakes. If you could let us know, Pat was talking about that kind that is different that we might experience with a large earthquake on the southern part of the San Andreas Fault where things were really shaking for a long time. What scenarios do you come up with when you think about an earthquake like that?

LANE: Well, we actually did that drill last year during the ‘Golden Guardian’ exercise last November where we walked through in our Emergency Services of all the fire departments and law enforcement in San Diego County, walked through that exact scenario of a southern San Andreas Fault exercise and, you know, every earthquake and every disaster is different and the key that we focus on is the ability to adapt. So, you know, the concern – For example, we went through some scenarios with the earthquake causing dam failures. We also had search and rescue in some of our taller buildings. So all those things are concerns and, obviously, a major concern from earthquakes is the post-earthquake fires, and that’s what happened in San Francisco and some of the earthquakes in Tokyo. So we’re very concerned about that and we have a lot of plans in place to deal with those types of contingencies.

CAVANAUGH: What about the quality of the buildings here in San Diego? I know modern buildings are pretty well – can stand…

LANE: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: …an earthquake but what about some of the older buildings in San Diego? Have they all been retrofitted or is there someplace to stay away from if there’s an earthquake?

LANE: Well, every city has identified their unreinforced masonry buildings…


LANE: …which we’re concerned about. Post-Northridge, there’s been a lot of retrofitting of our key bridges and highways, which are very concerning to us. But out of the over 900,000 buildings in San Diego, there are less than 2000 that are concerned as far as unreinforced masonry. So for the most part, most buildings in San Diego, as a fairly new and modern city, and the construction’s been fairly recent. Our buildings can withstand an earthquake much better than a lot of communities around the country, especially on the east coast where the buildings and major structures were built, you know, 100 years ago.

CAVANAUGH: What about in Balboa Park, Dave?

DALTON: We were just having that conversation before we came in here. And I think there’s an interesting combination of buildings. You have many older structures that were built for the expositions, and several newer buildings that obviously are built to current seismic codes. But the truth is, I don’t personally know what’s going to happen. We have such an interesting mix of buildings there, and a lot of them are wooden frame construction. Some are older masonry type construction. And then, of course, we have several that are current code construction. So it’d be interesting to see what happens.

CAVANAUGH: Yes. Now, as Emergency Services Director for the Natural History Museum, the Security Director there, you probably perhaps may not know the answer to this question but let me just ask you since you’re dealing with Balboa Park, what are plans for the zoo? Are there any contingency plans, earthquake drills, for the zoo that you know of?

DALTON: Well, the zoo is very proactive. Their emergency department there is very proactive in planning for these contingencies and that includes what do we do with the animals following an earthquake if you have collapse of a structure that these animals are normally contained in. But I work very closely with them in their planning efforts and I know that they have very proactive, very aggressive plans in place to deal with that type of a contingency. So…

CAVANAUGH: Well, that’s good to know. The number here is 1-888-895-5727. Let’s take a call. Elsie is calling from Imperial Beach. Good morning, Elsie, and welcome to These Days.

ELSIE (Caller, Imperial Beach): Good morning. Thank you. I have some – My family has a history here in California and mother was in the Long Beach quake, I think. She said 1929 or ’30 but any rate, she was standing on the second floor of her home and she saw it coming. She said it was like watching waves come in. The other story is, my father’s family in San Francisco, my grandfather was in bed and the 1906 quake threw him out of bed and he picked up his watch and timed 56 seconds and so I’ve always talked to my kids about earthquake. Anyway, those are just interesting stories.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I appreciate – thank you for sharing them because, you know, Pat, as you were saying, I don’t think that San Diego is used to having earthquakes of that – that last that long.

DR. ABBOTT: Indeed. Like I say, the longer time they were used to – And the other point about seeing the ground roll. The waves we were talking about coming in from the San Andreas that we said were going to be shaking the tall buildings so much…


DR. ABBOTT: …yes, indeed. It’s just like if we go out to the beach today and look at the swells coming in. The ground is actually shaking and moving in that same way. If you’re up and watching it, you can see these swells coming through on the ground. And, of course, that’s where I’d like to be, outside on the ground.

CAVANAUGH: Why is that?

DR. ABBOTT: Nothing to fall on me.

CAVANAUGH: Ah, okay, all right. Is – Aren’t there any possible problems you could have being outside with – during an earthquake, though?

DR. ABBOTT: Well, the danger really all comes from above, so I mean, if you’re not under power lines or standing underneath a eucalyptus tree or something or other, you know, if you’re out – well, let’s say you’re out in an open, grassy field with only shrubs around, then, no, there is no danger. I mean, you can fall on the grass and bounce around a bit but, I mean, heck, I think that’s just a lifetime experience, that’s not a real problem.

CAVANAUGH: And what are some of the problems that you foresee in a longer earthquake with people in their cars, Ron?

LANE: Right, we encourage people to stop if they feel an earthquake, to pull over safely because one of the major concerns—and we saw this in San Francisco, is the bridges and overpasses become very dangerous in a major earthquake. So we encourage, just like Pat was saying, people need to avoid being under anything that can fall on them or to be on a bridge on a car that may collapse. So that’s one of the things that we encourage people to take seriously.

CAVANAUGH: We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. We’re talking about earthquake preparedness, and Frank is calling us from Talmadge. Good morning, Frank. Welcome to These Days.

FRANK (Caller, Talmadge): Hi. I’d like to ask Pat Abbott is Coalwood Canyon the same as the La Nacion Fault?

DR. ABBOTT: Yes, part of the La Nacion Fault does come up through Coalwood Canyon. That’s near the northern end of it. The La Nacion Fault kind of runs – more or less 805 kind of runs through that and it’s more prominent in the south. Now, La Nacion Fault is not a plate tectonic driven fault like the San Andreas or the Rose Canyon Fault. The San Diego Bay area is geologically a down-dropping area and as that basin drops, it fractures or separates from the rest of the land mass and that’s what the La Nacion Fault are, what we call down to the basin faults, which you could see nicely if you were by Brown Field and heading west on 905. You kind of go down some stair steps as you go down towards Interstate 5. Those stair steps are the down-dropping faults of the La Nacion system and the northern in here at Coalwood is just relatively minor offsets. The major part of it is – lies farther to the south.

CAVANAUGH: But that’s basically one we don’t have to worry about.

DR. ABBOTT: I would – I can’t see an earthquake out of that bigger than, say, magnitude 5 or something or other. So, I mean, even if it did what it can do, it’s not going to be too bad except for the fact that for reasons that infuriate me, homes have been built directly over the fault in places. And I – To me, it’s inexcusable that a concrete slab would be pulled over – poured over a fault.

CAVANAUGH: And what neighborhoods are we talking about?

DR. ABBOTT: A number of these areas in southern San Diego. Basically following down that 805 corridor. I don’t know how many of them but I know some have because it hasn’t been considered to be that active a fault. But a two-inch movement, if it’s the concrete slab of your home, is a huge deal to the residents.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Dave, you worked in law enforcement up in LA for many years and you saw the devastation of the Northridge quake in the early ‘90s. Can you tell us what it was like in that area following the Northridge quake?

DALTON: Absolutely. I was actually first responder in two earthquakes, the 1971 Sylmar earthquake in the north San Fernando Valley and when the – that was where the Van Norman Reservoir was threatened to rupture and actually inundate the north valley, so the entire northern San Fernando Valley had to be evacuated because of that. It ultimately did not rupture but it very likely could have. In 1994 in the Northridge earthquake, fortunately that occurred very early in the morning prior to buildings being heavily populated and that was fortunate because there was incredible devastation that occurred. Using a couple of examples, the Cal State Northridge campus was just literally decimated. It was reduced to rubble basically, the entire campus. Parking structures made of very heavy steel were just bent like horseshoes. Buildings collapsed. And one particular building, I remember, I ended up being sort of an emissary, a law enforcement liaison, to the council member in whose district this earthquake occurred where the epicenter was, and that was District Three. And so I got to see up close and personal a lot of the destruction and damage that occurred, and one location was the Northridge Meadows apartments right on Reseda Boulevard. It was a very interesting phenomenon. That building was a three-story apartment building built on steel stakes with a parking area underneath it. It was literally built on steel poles. And that building, in the truest sense, didn’t pancake other than the first level; it collapsed onto the parking area. Well, that unfortunately was one of the locations where several deaths occurred, several injuries occurred in that single structure. And why it chose that one building out of the large complex of buildings, who knows? But the reality was is that it did collapse. And as I try to tell people when I teach about this, is one of the greatest risks following an earthquake is that of fire. A lot of your casualties occur because gas lines rupture, electrical lines rupture, and you put the two together, you’ve got a sparking electrical line and natural gas, you’re going to get fires and explosions. That’s going to be true anywhere. And that’s exactly what occurred there. First responders went in trying to rescue people from the building and fires kept erupting so they had to go back and put the fires out before rescue efforts could continue. And then ultimately it became a recovery effort where they had to go in then and recover those who had perished in the building. So the destruction from Northridge was phenomenal. It was beyond explaining to anyone unless you saw it up close and personal. And we had, of course, roadways collapse. I lost a very good friend of mine, a motor officer who got up, being a very loyal employee, after the earthquake he got on his motorcycle was responding in very early in the morning and drove right off an 80 foot or 86 foot drop where a roadway just had disappeared out in the north valley. And, of course, you couldn’t see that but ahead of him, in the darkness, was a roadway that just wasn’t there anymore. So…

CAVANAUGH: That’s tragic.

DALTON: But it was pretty devastating.

CAVANAUGH: Now what have we learned from the Northridge quake?

DALTON: Well, I think the key message that I like to bring to people is one of preparedness. The more you do today, and it has to start with each one of us individually, the more you can do personally and as a family, as a business, to prepare today, is going to make a tremendous difference in how you survive an event like this. And we’re talking in the immediate about earthquakes but it applies to any disaster, whether it’s an aircraft that falls out of the sky or a train wreck or a tsunami, an earthquake, it doesn’t matter. You can do things proactively today as an individual and as a family and that’s why this drill is so important, Maureen. You will do instinctively what you practice to do in an emergency. And one example, just to bring that home, that I like to use is driving your car. If your default is to slam on the brakes when confronted with an obstacle in the roadway in front of you on the freeway, you’re going to not only hit the object but 20 cars behind you are going to hit you. If you train yourself mentally and in every other way to drive around the obstacle when you see it, you will survive it, you won’t hit it, and the 20 cars behind you will do the same thing because you modeled successful, correct behavior.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take a phone call. Rene is calling from La Mesa. Good morning, Rene. Welcome to These Days.

RENE (Caller, La Mesa): Good morning, Maureen.


RENE: Basically, my comment was on preparedness. What my family and I did was we bought a trash can like a 55-gallon drum trash can at Home Depot.


RENE: And what we did is put all the essentials that we could think of that we would need to leave right away after a major disaster. We put in our medication, we put in important paperwork, pictures, things that – the most important things. Medication for our dog, canned food, tuna fish, flashlights, all those things, and we have that in a corner of our house that is accessible, that if any disaster, a fire, a terrorist attack, a major earthquake hits, we can grab that and go and know that we have everything that we need so we can survive momentarily, you know, the next one or two weeks with those supplies.

CAVANAUGH: Rene, thank you so much for that. It sounds like you’re really pretty prepared, more prepared than most people, I would imagine. For an earthquake, Ron, his emergency trash can is good for any kind of an emergency but for an earthquake, don’t we have to have more provisions on hand than perhaps we would need for an emergency wildfire preparation kit?

LANE: Right, in most earthquake scenarios, we’re not going to be asking people to evacuate because it’s not safe to; the roads aren’t safe and everything else. So unless there’s a major conflagration of a fire, for the most part we’re going to ask people to shelter in place. So that’s where the trash can of provisions that this caller talked about is so essential. If we ask people to be prepared for 72 hours to survive on their own, if they can do that, and if we had every citizen as prepared as your last caller, that would take a huge amount of pressure off our community because we’re talking about resiliency. We want a resilient community. We saw that during the fires, neighbor helping neighbor and very – a high level of preparedness in our communities. And we have almost 480,000 people signed up for this drill. We’re hoping everybody, all your listeners, sign up as well, and participate so that they, too, are prepared and they can come to our website at and download a family disaster plan. We have it in multiple languages. And that has all the information. And one of the things that he didn’t necessarily talk about but is critical in an earthquake is the ability to, for example, map out where your natural gas line is, how to turn that off. There are some things that are specific to an earthquake that you can prepare for, and make sure that your family knows how to take some actions like that that can assist.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, and Dave.

DALTON: Could I add one thing to that…


DALTON: …Maureen? The real important message that – and it’s been sort of alluded to but we really need to make this message strongly. People in general, not everyone, but in general people believe that the troops are going to be there to come to your rescue following an event like this. That is just simply not the case. I spent 29 years in law enforcement as a first responder to every kind of disaster almost you can think of including earthquakes, and I can tell you that immediately emergency services are overwhelmed, inundated, and they have to prioritize. Where the greatest need is, is where those resources are going to be sent and people really – what Ron just said, 3 to 5 days, you have to gear your thinking, planning and preparation to be on your own, and that includes attending to your medical needs, medications that you may need, glasses that may be broken that you don’t have an extra pair of, providing for your pets, animals that you may have, elderly, handicapped individuals, these all factor into very specific plans that you must address now because you are going to be on your own for a period of time in any major disaster. If we have that 7.8 earthquake, you are going to be on your own for 3 to 5 days.

CAVANAUGH: I think this has been a great preparation for people to take part in ‘The Great California Shake Out.’ I want to thank my guests. Ron Lane, Dave Dalton, Dr. Pat Abbott, thank you all for being here.

LANE: My pleasure.

DALTON: Thanks, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: And ‘The Great California Shake Out will take place this Thursday, October 15 at 10:15 a.m. All Californians are encouraged to participate in the drill. And if you want more information on what you can do to prepare, you can go to You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS. And coming up, unraveling the mystery of fibromyalgia. That’s ahead on These Days right here on KPBS.

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