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This Week's Stories

Ten Years After Loma Prieta, Campus Makes Progress Toward Seismic Stability

Tips on Earthquake Preparedness

Cutting Through Health Care's Red Tape

Endangered Species Act Failing to Protect the Nation's Wildlife

Campus Infant Care Center Opens Its Doors

Harvard Law Professor and Author Lani Guinier Delivers Savio Memorial Lecture

Members of "Calling All Cooks" Share Love of Epicurean Endeavors at Monthly Meetings

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Tips on Earthquake Preparedness
Simple Steps To Make The Aftermath More Bearable

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
Posted October 20, 1999

You don't need to be afraid of an earthquake on the Hayward Fault; you need to make a plan and do some mitigation.

That's the upbeat message that Treacy Malloy of the Office of Emergency Preparedness takes to campus staff in her hour-long Disaster Preparedness workshop, "Get Ready: Earthquake Preparedness for Home and Work."

The workshop is just one element of services offered by the Office of Emergency Preparedness, created after the Oakland Hills fire of 1991. The office is responsible for creating the campus disaster response plan (including the building coordinator program), recruiting and training faculty, staff and students able to volunteer during a campuswide emergency as part of the HOME Team, and enhancing seismic safety awareness.

Malloy comes to "Get Ready" armed with show-and-tell items -- from light sticks to space blankets -- and little-known disaster survival facts.

Did you know, for example, that there is a high probability of precipitation after a major earthquake? All the dust and debris thrown into the atmophere can seed the clouds, she says. The lesson? Be prepared for rain.

"The only thing that the human body cannot survive without is water," Malloy also tells her audiences.

The obvious moral: store water. Related advice: in the aftermath of an earthquake, the one utility you should automatically shut off is the water supply. There's a lot of H2O stored in your water heater and the pipes of your house, says Malloy. By closing the valve, you protect it from being either sucked out or contaminated during firefighting efforts.

There are different schools of thought on whether to shut off the gas. Malloy says don't do it automatically. Assess your situation first, and if you do decide to turn it off, expect to be without gas for many weeks. Always have a professional restart your system, to avoid an explosion.

The workshop also features live video footage from inside a UC Santa Cruz classroom as the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit. In the "instant replay," the narrator points out falling light fixtures, as well as diagraming the path of smart students who did the "duck, cover and hold" play recommended by earthquake preparedness coaches like Malloy.

All this to illustrate another point of the "Get Ready" workshop: although the structural stability of buildings gets a lot of press, there are many non-structural hazards at home and work that individuals have control over. Malloy describes a weighty old-fashioned Remington typewriter that flew across an office during the Northridge earthquake and was imbedded in the opposite wall.

Remove the hazards. Move that ten-pound trophy from the top shelf to the floor. Strap down the ambient lighting unit perched atop your office shelving.

Strap downs for computers and printers, emergency kits, light sticks and other emergency preparedness supplies are now available from Campus Supply and through Mainly Stationery, located in the Old Art Gallery building north of Sproul Hall. Campus Supply accepts departmental purchase orders only. To receive a vendor list for personal supplies, contact the Office of Emergency Preparedness at 643-9255.

Malloy advises parents of young children to leave a backpack of clothing and other supplies at their child's school or daycare, know the school's emergency plan, and talk with their kids about their family plan. She recommends the kids' book "We Shake in a Quake" by Hannah Gelman Givon. Designate meeting places and out-of-state telephone contacts as well.

"Get Ready" will be offered again through Employee Development and Training on April 6. To register, or for more information on emergency preparedness, visit the OEP Web site at ( To inquire about a presentation for departmental groups of 10 or more, contact Malloy at 642-9036.


October 20 - 26, 1999 (Volume 28, Number 11)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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