The Gluten-Free Chick and the Earthquake

This week’s post is recipe-free. I’m deviating from the standard to talk about earthquake preparedness.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m the only Chicklet who lives in Virginia. Not only do I live in the Commonwealth, but I live 45 miles from Mineral, the epicenter of the 8/23/11 5.8 earthquake.

Besides being a Gluten-Free mom, I’m also a former American Red Cross Disaster Worker. I spent years training people how to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. So talking about what to do in a disaster comes second-nature.

Rather than talk about my experience in the earthquake, I want to educate people about what to do if the earth starts shaking. There are three simple rules that apply regardless of where you are.

Drop to the ground or floor. Cover your head and neck. Hold onto that position until the shaking stops.

  1. If you’re inside, climb under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a desk. (The experts no longer recommend standing in doorways. Under sturdy furniture is safest.)
  2. If you’re outside, find a clear space and drop, cover and hold on.
  3. If you’re in your vehicle, stop driving, remain buckled in and wait for the shaking to stop.

If you find yourself in the middle of an earthquake, be aware of falling objects. We’ve probably all seen the pictures of the National Cathedral’s spires missing from the top. But be aware of falling rocks from cliffs outside. Inside, bookcases can topple, ceilings can weaken and chip, pictures and objects in high places can fall.

Protect yourself. Drop, cover and hold on.

After an earthquake it’s common for cell lines to be jammed. If you can send an email, do it. Sometimes it’s easier to text than to call. Have an out-of-state contact and text or email that person. Let your out-of-state contact post news about you to friends and family.

Yesterday, I discovered I had two out-of-state contacts. A family member in Maryland who notified my family. And a friend in Florida who notified other friends.

FYI: The out-of-state contacts are good to have in case of any emergency.

So if another earthquake hits, don’t panic, don’t run. Drop, cover and hold on!

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back next week with a new gluten-free recipe!

8 thoughts on “The Gluten-Free Chick and the Earthquake

  1. I’m impressed that you posted at all today, Jess! And I did not know about the drop, cover, and hold. I, too, believed that you were supposed to stand in a doorway. So many people ran outside, which I guess is instinct (in addition to the fear of a terrorist attack).

    And yay for out of state contacts. šŸ˜‰

    • Surprise! No recipe but I couldn’t let today go by without a visit! šŸ™‚

      I’m not sure when the rules changed. But I gleaned the information from the American Red Cross website. The American Red Cross is mandated by Congress to prepare for and respond to emergencies, so they need to be up on all the latest scientific information. šŸ™‚

      And thank you Abigail for updating our writing buds about my status yesterday. It was three hours before I could make a phone call on my cell phone.

  2. I had heard a while back that it is actually safer to lie on the floor next to or between two pieces of sturdy furniture, rather than under one. The reason is that if the ceiling or something else major collapses, the furniture may be crushed. If it is, there is still likely to be a “pocket” between the crushed materials. Which would let you fare better than being under the crushed furniture. The advice had been circulated by a relief worker who saw dozens of children crushed under their desks at school. They would have been saved if they had laid down next to their desks instead. What do you think of this advice? Perhaps it depends on the severity of the earthquake? And thanks for posting on the topic!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for posting your question. There are a lot of myths out there about what to do in emergencies.

      I’m curious where the children were. I’ve never heard of that disaster, not that it couldn’t happen. Given the right, or wrong, set of circumstances something like you described could happen.

      The safest method I know for dealing with earthquakes is to do what I described above. Objects including ceiling tiles, ceiling fans, pictures, mirrors, nick-knacks on shelves and books might fall during an earthquake. People are safest under sturdy pieces of furniture where they’re less likely to be struck by falling objects.

      A little bit about me…I’ve been with the American Red Cross for over 17 years training people to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

      Have a wonderful day!

      • Hi Jess, I saw the email about recommended emergency procedures circulating after the Haiti earthquake last year. The author was referring to the 1985 earthquake in Mexico, regarding the school. I just googled this to find out more. He talks about the “triangle of life” that’s formed when buildings, etc. collapse. But it seems it’s controversial and perhaps not so useful for those living in the U.S. due to the building codes here (I’d wager there’s more danger from falling stuff, like you said, than a risk of the roof falling in). Hmmm, I’m glad you prompted me to look this up! It had really made sense at the time!

      • Glad to help. Thanks for letting me know.

        The biggest challenge in educating people how to prepare for and respond to disasters is the misinformation out there.

        Time for me to batten down the hatches before Hurricane Irene hits tomorrow.

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