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Emergency Tips: Recent Fires, Earthquakes Remind Us to Be Prepared

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A group of earthquakes hit just above Santa Clara County Tuesday morning, located about 6 miles northeast of Milpitas. The quakes, ranging from magnitudes of 1.3 to 3.3 struck in the course of under one hour with the latest, and largest, at just before 9:30 a.m.

A magnitude 3.3 earthquake struck after three smaller earthquakes within an hour near Milpitas, Calif. Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. (Image courtesy of USGS)

A swarm of very small quakes has gone nearly unnoticed in northern Sonoma County over the past 24 hours. Of the more than 20 very small earthquakes near Lake Sonoma — focused in areas near Cobb and The Geysers — the strongest magnitude registered at 1.6 around 10:30 p.m. Monday night. 

Small earthquakes are not uncommon but the Bay Area has experienced seven in the course of the past week, ranging from magnitude 2.7 to 3.5. Though none have caused any damage, these smaller shakes are a reminder of the underlying beast on our faults.

It may be easy to overlook something so seemingly innocuous, especially as the region contends with far more dangerous and pressing matters like rampant wildfires and ongoing pandemic, but it is wise to remind ourselves that a major earthquake could hit at any time and we need to be prepared.

In any disaster, it’s imperative that you can easily receive information from county emergency offices. Each county in the Bay Area enables residents to sign up for alerts in the case of evacuations, road closures and other hazards. It takes less than a few minutes to sign up.

Emergency evacuation route sign. (Photo by Video Girl/NeedPix)

Having a household evacuation plan in order, that you’ve reviewed with family or roommates may seem like a corny practice, but it can save your life in a disaster. An evacuation plan (posted somewhere in a common area) will help navigate a quick exit — base the plan on several circumstances and potential blockages. 

If you have pets at your home, they need to be included in the evacuation plan. You should also establish an emergency contact near your residence in case you’re not there when disaster strikes and you need your pet checked on or taken to safety.

Make certain you and your loved ones have a contact and gathering plan in place in case you’re separated at the time of an earthquake or other disaster. Scope out your home, office or school for the safest places to ride out the wave, away from anything that could fall on you. Immediately after the first quake, check for heat and fire as broken gas lines can cause major hazards. Be cautious just after an earthquake — aftershocks can often come at high magnitudes and be just as dangerous as the primary shock.

Maybe most importantly, pack an emergency survival kit that can be used in the case of any disaster, including wildfires you may have to quickly flee from.

Earthquakes and wildfires remind us to be prepared for an emergency in the Bay Area at all times. (Graphic courtesy of MasterTux/Pixabay)

According to Red Cross, the emergency kits should at a minimum contain the following:

Being prepared can help cut down the anxiety and confusion in a disaster moment. So take some time to know your plan and go have your go-bag on hand. Stay safe!

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.