Earthquakes: helping Indonesians and preparing for ours

The latest dealth toll for the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck on Saturday in Indonesia is now 5700 people. In addition, 200,000 people have lost their homes. And I just found out about it today, making me feel like an out-of-touch American.

You can make a donation to help the people of Indonesia by going to the Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies.

This is also yet another reminder that I am not at all prepared for an earthquake here at home. Lots of information about earthquakes and how to prepare for them is available in the USGS handbook. I have moved my earthquake-preparedness to-dos to a little higher on my priority list. I don’t yet have a disaster kit. The USGS recommends that you always have the following within easy reach:

  • Medications and medical consent forms for dependents.
  • First aid kit and handbook.
  • Spare eyeglasses and personal hygiene supplies.
  • Bottled water.
  • Whistle (to alert rescuers to your location).
  • Emergency cash.
  • List of emergency contact phone numbers.
  • Snack foods high in calories.
  • Emergency lighting.
  • Comfort items, such as games, crayons, writing materials, and teddy bears.

7 Comments so far

  1. Elizabeth (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 11:18 am

    Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training classes are starting in different neighborhoods throughout the summer. From the site:
    The goal of this program is to help the citizens of San Francisco to be self sufficient in a major disaster situation by developing multi-functional teams, cross trained in basic emergency skills.
    Another item I would add to the USGS list is to prepare a meeting plan. “You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.” has a nice, easy to use form.

  2. irja (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 11:19 am

    The earthquake in Indonesia is a great reminder to prepare for the same here. The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter (ARCBA) has a new initiative called Prepare Bay Area, the goal of which is to prepare one million Bay Area residents for the next big disaster. Find more info. at

  3. anna (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 11:28 am

    I’m on my building’s emergency committee so we’ve been talking about this ongoing since December. A couple of things: if you’re in an apt. building in SF, there is a handbook from the mayor’s office about emergency procedures. Also, the city says to prepare for 72 hours without water or food, but we’re thinking more like 2 weeks.

    From the ’89, my biggest priority was to 1) find out how to turn off the gas main and 2) figure out an out of town person that my entire family can contact. Local phones and cell phones weren’t working, but long distance was. Maybe it’s different now- we’re thinking of setting up a meeting area nearby to congregate.

  4. Elizabeth (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

    There are actually four different types of gas shutoffs:
    • Appliance shutoff
    • Individual unit shutoff
    • Main shutoff
    • PG&E shutoff

    Apparently in ’89 some well intentioned people went around unnecessarily shutting off gas lines in the Marina District. Anyone can turn off a gas line, but only PG&E can turn the gas back on. With all the backlog it took three months for those homes to get their gas turned back on. Only turn off the gas if you smell natural gas, if ALL the wheels on your meter are spinning wildly or if the building has collapsed or sustained heavy structural damage.

  5. Elizabeth (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    Ooh, one last thing- the city offers a great service for elderly or disabled people- The San Francisco Disaster Registry Program.
    The San Francisco Disaster Registry Program (DRP) allows the elderly and persons with disabilities to pre-register with the Department of Public Health (DPH) Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMSA). The DRP maintains a listing of all registrants and distributes updated lists to certain San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) Stations to provide information to emergency responders after a disaster. The DRP contains information provided voluntarily such as the persons name, address and reason for registering.

  6. Lauren (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

    Thanks for posting all of this great info! If anyone else has suggestions/links/tips like this, please add them!

  7. anna (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 6:58 pm

    E- I’m not so worried about getting stuff on again, more worried about leaks to the mains, etc. that could cause fires during the actual disaster. While we were told the same thing in ’89 to have PG & E turn it off (like they won’t be busy), or to only turn it off if you smell it, in large apt. buildings it’s just one main that is affected, so it seems OK for us to turn it off, esp. since it’s just in one place.

    Interesting story about the Marina, though.

    There’s a cool kit“>“>kit you can buy online for your earthquake prevention preparedness.

    Another thing is to make friends with your neighbors. In ’89 a girl was stuck in her house, and we knew because we knew we usually chatted with her when she got out of school. When nobody could locate her, someone shimmied up to the rec room of her house and there she was.

    Also, there’s a sticker you can get to put on the outside of your door telling firemen you have pet in your apartment.

    There are tons of resources. Sorry to chat it here in this informal area.

    ALSO: a tsunami is another risk some of us by the shore may experience, along with earthquakes.

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