By Barbara Lewis, Special to the Van Nuys News Press

April is Earthquake Preparedness Month. As a resident of an earthquake zone, are you prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least two weeks in the event of a large quake? We live in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a vast stretch of coastal land that encircles the Pacific Ocean. This Ring experiences over 90 percent of all the world’s earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, making it the most volatile earthquake region in the world. California lies entirely on the Ring, making it only a matter of time before it is also hit by a major quake.

Linda Pruett, Emergency Preparedness Chair of the Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council, offers crucial advice on how to prepare for a major quake. The following is a list of questions to ask yourself when preparing:

  1. Do you have a plan for rejoining family members after such an event?
  2. Do you have an out-of-state contact to act as a ‘clearing house’ for family information when local communications are compromised?
  3. Do you have enough food, water, prescription drugs, first aid supplies, lighting, communication equipment, cash and special needs supplies for the elderly, infant and disabled members of your family?  For the four-legged, feathered, finny and cold-blooded ones as well?  Are you sure?
  4. Have you checked expiration dates on those supplies recently?
  5. Have you taken a First Aid and CPR Class in the last three years?
  6. Do you know what to do if help is going to be delayed or perhaps not coming at all?  Rules have changed for many procedures – you’ll want to know the latest medical advice on how to treat the injured.  You know you would never forgive yourself if…
  7. Do you really know how and when to correctly shut off the gas, electricity and water in your house?  Do you have the proper tools immediately available to do so?
  8. Have you taken a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class to learn how to safely put out a fire without endangering yourself and others, do search and rescue to save family members and neighbors, and triage to know who needs treatment first and who can’t be saved?
  9. Do you know how to take over the role of Incident Commander if the need occurs in your neighborhood?

Answer yes to the questions listed above, so that when an earthquake does strike, you can protect yourself and your family. The question here is not “if” an earthquake will hit California, but “when.” Take the time during Earthquake Preparedness Month to make sure you have the information you need.

Barbara Lewis is a member of the Emergency Preparedness Committee for the Community Police Advisory Board of the Van Nuys Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. She can be reached at

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