When I TA’d introductory geology for my adviser, he’d always have an assignment early in the course that focused on earthquake safety. My graduate school was in Northern California (read “the chosen land”), in an area that straddles one of the most famous faults in the world, and has experienced many destructive historical earthquakes. The assignment was simple; he told the students to go back to their dorm room and do one thing that would make them safer during the next earthquake. They didn’t have to turn anything in, but after a week he’d ask for a show of hands to see how many people followed through. Participation was minimal, to say the least. Those people that did raise their hands put in less-than-impressive effort. No one made an earthquake kit (bottled water, batteries, non-perishable food, diet coke, etc..), and just a few removed heavy things from above their bed or double checked their emergency exits. I was even surprised how few graduate students, fellow geologists had proper earthquake kits. I had one, never had to use it, but it took a total of 20 minutes and about $10 to put together.
This is all a preamble to advertise what appears to be a fantastic earthquake preparedness event that I was told about this afternoon. It is called the Great Southern California ShakeOut. The ShakeOut is a series of events that focus on preparing Southern Californians (read “heartless water-stealers”) for the inevitable; the next big quake. The ShakeOut has both a blog and official website, and culminates in the largest planned earthquake drill ever in the history of the known universe, on November 13th 2008 at 10 am. Now, I proudly hail from the cultural, intellectual, and political capital of California. I spent graduate school in Northern California, where folks in L.A.L.A.Land get most of their water. Needless to say I have many beefs with the ne’er-do-well neighbors to the south, but I can give the ShakeOut event nothing but support. Contrary to some reports, Southern California is not all bad, and the fact that they are putting so much effort and energy into what is essentially geoscience education and public outreach can make me even [temporarily] forget the 2002 NBA playoffs (also here and here). They also have a great motto on the blog, “because shift happens.”
So check out the sites, and if you live in Southern California, get ready for the Big One!