Uncommon knowledge, news, and opinion

Uncommon knowledge, news, and opinion

Subscribe to this blog

Facebook

BLOG

Emergency / Disaster Readiness Workshop & Expo – Feb. 25 in Napa

January 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm By Roz Potter
Saturday, February 25, 2012, from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm,  Napa, CA  – Location TBA

We regret that the February EXPO must be postponed. Instead, a 3.5 hour Disaster Readiness Workshop will be held Saturday, March 24th from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the John Muir Inn in Napa. Please call 707.255.7146 for details.

This 6-hour one-of-a-kind event will help get your household ready for a variety of emergencies.

Demonstrations: Learn how to disinfect water, handle utility emergencies, use safety and self-defense devices, see how earthquake protection materials work, and select worthwhile supplies and equipment for lighting, first-aid, communications, sanitation, and 3-day “Go” bags

Tasting, of three types of emergency food bars and water with a 5-year shelf-life

Family Disaster Planning documents, including communication and reunification, urgent medical information, utility emergencies, asset protection, and emergency notification documents

Disaster Readiness Lecture and Discussion, including earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, and hazardous materials

$60 fee ($65 at the door) includes 3.5  hrs of instruction, disaster plan documents,  supply lists for “Go” bags for home, work, car and school, and 7 live demonstrations (2.5 hours). $15 discount for prior Defying Disaster Workshop participants, seniors over 65, full-time students & multiple participants from the same address. Partial scholarships available ($20 total cost).  Register in advance to avoid disappointments at the door.

See Link for details including registration.

Lessons from Christchurch

January 21, 2012 at 10:11 am By Roz Potter

This piece was originally posted on February 24, 2011. Since then, there have been approximately 9,000 aftershocks in the Christchurch, New Zealand area.

Christchurch’s downtown has been all but leveled with additional extensive damage to outlying areas, and many injuries. You may wish to visit this website to see for yourself,  http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/all.

The seismic activity is so strong that Christchurch residents are experiencing motion sickness on a daily basis, even though they are on land.

Here’s the original post:

The “Ring of Fire” earthquake zone is the source of 80% of the world’s earthquakes.

According to the USGS, the Ring of Fire “extends from Chile, northward along the South American coast through Central America, Mexico, the West Coast of the United States, and the southern part of Alaska, through the Aleutian Islands to Japan, the Philippine Islands, New Guinea, the island groups of the Southwest Pacific, and to New Zealand”.

This earthquake belt was responsible for 70,000 deaths in Peru in May 1970, and 65 deaths and a billion dollars’ damage in California in February 1971 (the San Fernando quake).

Located on the Ring of Fire, Christchurch, New Zealand has some of the world’s most stringent building codes. Why then, did Tuesday’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake cause the collapse of many buildings, when September’s 7.1 magnitude quake in the same vicinity did little damage?

The devastation from the latest quake was an unfortunate combination of proximity, timing, and stress from September’s stronger but more distant rupture.

Tuesday’s earthquake, centered just 3 miles from Christchurch, a city of 390,000 people, was also just 3 miles deep. Shallower, closer quakes are more destructive. While September’s quake struck early on a weekend morning, catching most people at home in bed, Tuesday’s quake struck in the middle of a workday, finding people at multistory pre-World War II as well as more modern buildings, many of them unreinforced masonry, already weakened by September’s temblor.

The New Zealand Herald newspaper gives us a real-time glimpse into actual conditions following the quake. This report is from 4:22 PM today:

- All hospitals are operational and have been emptied to make room for victims

- 80% of the city is still without water. Emergency water supplies are available at locations, primarily schools throughout the city and neighboring towns. People are advised to bring their own containers. The water needs to be boiled before drinking.

If it rains, residents are urged to save all water for drinking. It is not to be used to flush toilets, take showers or baths.

- The sewage system has been damaged. People are advised not to flush their toilets and to use a bucket or dig a hole outside for human waste.

- Gasoline supplies are low and needed for emergency vehicles. People are advised not to buy gas except for critical uses. Roads are damaged.

- People are encouraged to walk to keep vehicles off the road. The public is to bring bedding, medications and personal effects with them to shelters.

- Power has been restored to 60% of the city. It may be several weeks before it is restored completely.

- All schools and day care centers are closed. People are only to report to work if they work in an industry supplying food.

- Telephone and cellphone calls are to be limited. Text messages are preferred as they place less load on networks. In yesterday’s paper, people were asked to change their cellphone messages to let callers know their location and to give alternate details if possible.

- Many supermarkets and ATMs are closed due to damage.

- The Port has sustained serious damage

- Aftershocks are continuing. More damage is expected. Residents are urged to drop, cover and hold on at the first sign of an aftershock.

Update: 2 26 11

The death toll stands at 145, with hundreds more missing. There are many traumatic injuries from collapsed concrete buildings.

Disaster / Earthquake Readiness Workshop and Expo, Feb. 26, 2012

December 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm By Roz Potter

Saturday, February 26, 2012, from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm,  Napa, CA  – Location TBA

A jump-start for preparedness.  This 6-hour one-of-a-kind event will help get your household ready for a variety of emergencies. See event poster here.

Demonstrations: Learn how to disinfect water, handle utility emergencies, use safety and self-defense devices, see how earthquake protection materials work, and select worthwhile supplies and equipment for lighting, first-aid, communications, sanitation, and 3-day “Go” bags

Tastings of Emergency Food Bars and water with a 5-year shelf-life

Disassembly of several ready-made “Go”bags and first-aid kit, so you can see the quality and contents for yourself.

Create a family disaster plan, including family communication and reunification, urgent medical information, utility emergencies, and emergency notification documents

Disaster Readiness Lecture and Discussion including earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, and hazardous materials

$60 fee includes 3.5  hrs of instruction, disaster plan documents,  supply lists for “Go” bags for home, work, car and school, and 7 live demonstrations (2.5 hours). $15 discount for prior Defying Disaster Workshop participants, seniors over 65, full-time students & multiple participants from the same address.

Just 3 days to the Earthquake / Disaster Readiness Expo

November 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm By Roz Potter

The one-day event that will give a big jump-start to your preparedness activities is happening this Saturday, December 3rd, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the John Muir Inn in Napa.

Here’s the talent line-up:

Live Demonstrations:

Water need, storage and purification (4 methods)

Handling electrical, water, and natural gas emergencies

Earthquake protection devices for your home

A multitude of devices for emergency lighting, communications, energy and self-defense

Disassembly of Go bags and First Aid Kits, to see what’s really inside and if you could really live on it if you had to

Disaster Planning and Response - you’ll get many of the documents you need so that your household disaster plan at the ready – you just need to fill in the blanks

Supply lists for Home, Work, School and Car “Go” bags

Instruction and Discussion – 2.5 hours of stories, historic photographs, and lessons from past disasters that past workshop participants have called “profoundly moving and instructive”.

The emphasis is on instruction, but we’ll have some supplies and a deluxe “Go” bag for 2, available

Registration is available at the door.  Call 255-7146 for any questions or to register in advance. $60 fee, with a $10 discount for Seniors, full-time students, prior Defying Disaster workshop participants and individuals from the same address.

Hayward Fault rumbles Berkeley – again

October 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm By Roz Potter

In the past 7 days, Berkeley has been shaken by earthquakes larger than 3.5 magnitude three times. Today’s quake was a minor temblor, registering only 3.6 magnitude, but that is only part of the story. The Hayward Fault is the other part.

Homes, mass transit corridors, major freeways and roadways intersect the Hayward Fault at many locations. It is crossed by many critical water and gas pipelines, and electrical transmission lines. It begins near San Jose and winds its way northward through Santa Clara,  Alameda and part of Contra Costa County to San Pablo Bay.

California has a 99% chance of having at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake anytime in the next 30 years. For the S.F. Bay Area, the risk is 63%. And of all the faults in the S. F. Bay Area, the risk is highest for the Hayward/Rodgers Creek Faults.

The Hayward Fault has not ruptured since 1868, 142 years ago, in case you’re counting, and if you live in the Bay Area, you should be. The average period between the last 5 major quakes on the Hayward Fault  is 138 years.

Pressures in the Hayward Fault have been building unabated, since 1868. Similar pressures in the San Andreas Fault were at least partially relieved by the 1906 San Francisco quake, and to a small extent by the 1989 Loma Prieta. There has been no relief for the Hayward.

The 1868 quake was felt as far away as Nevada. There was major damage in Hayward, San Leandro and Fremont, and lesser but significant damage in San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco. Even Napa, yes, that Napa suffered substantial damage from the 1868 quake.

So, residents of Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda, Napa, Marin, Sonoma and other counties, can claim the Hayward as their fault too.  These counties suffered damage in the 1868 quake,  they rely on services that traverse the Hayward Fault, or their residents live, work or commute on or near the Hayward Fault.

Residents of any area could find themselves in double- or triple-trouble. Some regions, like Marin and Sonoma counties have several large fault systems, in these cases the San Andreas and the Rodgers Creek Faults. Alameda County must contend with both the Hayward and the San Andreas faults. All areas have unknown faults, like the one that ruptured in Napa County, CA in 2000, and in Northridge,  CA in 1994. In many cases, seismic waves from one fault rupture transfers to another, extending damage over a wider area than expected.

Ready? If not, here are some tips.

1. Your family may not be together when an earthquake strikes. They may not be able to get home

Complete a communication plan for emergencies and disasters and keep copies at home, work  and in your car. Have wallet size versions with the most essential information for each family member. The plan should include emergency contacts, both local and out of state. When family members call the contact they should advise their exact location, whether injured or in need of help or not , and where they are going.

Teach each family member to text. Text messages get transmitted more readily than voice transmissions.

Telephones with transformers require electricity to work. This includes cordless phones and many business or advanced feature phones. Have at least one old-fashioned, no bells or whistles, plug in telephone at home, work, and hopefully, schools.

2. Essential services (water, electricity, trash service, sewage treatment plants, transportation and some roadways) may be inoperable for days to weeks. If transportation is disrupted, store shelves cannot be stocked. If electricity is out, ATMs, gas pumps, cash registers, and water pumps won’t work.

This will be more than an inconvenience for those who rely on oxygen concentrators, insulin and other drugs that require refrigeration, or those who don’t store extra water, baby formula or other essentials.

Store cash, water, food, medicines, baby formula, a solar or battery powered radio and extra batteries, first-aid and medical supplies and alternative light and heat sources in sufficient quantities to supply essentials to household members. Supplies must include at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person and pet – a 3 day supply is minimal, a two week supply may not be enough. If possible, store extra supplies to help out neighbors, friends and family who will be caught unprepared.

3. Expert help (police, fire, medical, nursing, pharmacies, utilities, ambulance) could be delayed, inaccessible, or unavailable for hours, days or weeks.

Stock  first aid supplies and a manual (available at the Red Cross, Amazon and bookstores) in your home. Take a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) course, available in most communities, and a First Aid class. Have fully charged ABC-type fire extinguishers on every level of your home in addition to the kitchen and garage. Reach out to people in your neighborhood with special needs; the frail elderly, those with sight or hearing loss, in wheelchairs, with language barriers, or other needs who will require extra help in an emergency or disaster.

Before a disaster strikes, know how your community will respond. Where will emergency treatment locations be set up?  Is there a local emergency warning system? Are there experts in your neighborhood that would be willing to help you with specific needs, such as carpentry, nursing, medical? What is your EAS (Emergency Alert Station) for your area? For San Francisco Bay Area counties, it is KCBS, 740 on the AM dial.

Berkeley has given us three wake-up calls in 7 days.  One day, a small earthquake like those of the past week could herald in the “Big One”.  Get ready while there is still time.

The Great ShakeOuts, October 20, 2011 at 10:20 am

October 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm By Roz Potter

From Avian Flu Diary, the brilliant blog of Michael Coston, Link

Eleven days from now (on October 20th) California, Nevada, Guam, and British Columbia will hold annual earthquake preparedness drills which are promoted by the USGS and Shakeout.org .

The Great California ShakeOut, October 20, 2011
The Great Nevada ShakeOut, October 20, 2011
The Great Guam ShakeOut, October 20, 2011

These websites ask residents to register, and to take part in this annual earthquake exercise.  There you’ll find plenty of suggestions on how to participate – at home, at work, or at school.

A number of radio & TV stations across the state will play audio and/or video earthquake simulations at precisely 10:20 am to add authenticity to the drill.

The Great California Shakeout is the oldest, and largest of these drills, and this year more than 8 million Californians have registered as participants.

image

As far as what to do  DURING an earthquake, I’ll let the folks at ShakeOut.org explain (and no, it isn’t stand under a doorway):

Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

Federal, state, and local emergency management experts and other official preparedness organizations all agree that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes. The ShakeOut is our opportunity to practice how to protect ourselves during earthquakes. This page explains what to do– and what not to do.

(Continue . . . )

The USGS map below shows that most of the United State’s population lives in a seismically active region. While California has the reputation for being earthquake prone, the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard are not immune.

image

One of the most vulnerable areas to earthquakes (and tsunamis) in North America is the Pacific Northwest, where just over 311 years ago an earthquake and tsunami – likely on par with this year’s disastrous quake in Japan – struck the coastline.

image

U. S. nuclear power plant locator map

August 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm By Roz Potter

For those of you anticipating the obvious from serious earthquakes, here’s an eye-opening map of U.S. nuclear power plants from Greenpeace,  Link

Excerpt:

Nationwide, 108 million people live within 50 miles of a nuclear plant, yet many do not know they may be at risk if an accident or terrorist attack led to the release of radiation.

This nuclear locator map allows you to learn more about the risks of nuclear power in your community: how close you live to a nuclear plant, the record of near misses at each reactor, and government estimates of how many people could be killed or injured in an accident.

Virginia Earthquake Links

August 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm By Roz Potter

I’ll be adding to these view-worthy links: (Updated)

USGS report   Link

Politico report on nuclear reactor shutdowns,  Link

International Business Times report with graphics, Link

Discover Magazine’s  seismic wave animation  Link

Richmond, Virginia Times Dispatch – a local view , Link

NPR, Link

CBS News,  Link

The Guardian, “What the east coast earthquake means to US Nuclear Plants”,  Link

Whose Fault Is It?

August 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm By Roz Potter

Returned home moments ago to many phone messages and hundreds of blog hits an hour.  Until I can provide any new insight about the Virginia quake that struck at 1:51 EST today, I’m republishing a post from September 27, 2010 to remind fellow San Francisco Bay Area denizens of our unique earthquake risks and what can be done to protect our homes and loved ones.

Posted: September 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm by Roz Potter in Earthquake Preparedness, General Preparedness and Response, Infrastructure Failure, Preparedness Tips and Resources, Supply Chain Disruptions, Vulnerable Populations

More people live and work on or near the Hayward Fault in the San Francisco Bay Area than any other fault in the United States. As of 2008, 2.4 million people lived close by. More than 1.5 million people “work at sites that would experience strong or very strong levels of shaking” from the next powerful quake on the Hayward Fault.

This is earthquake country. California has a 99% chance of having at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake anytime in the next 30 years. For the S.F. Bay Area, the risk is 63%. And of all the faults in the S. F. Bay Area, the risk is highest for the Hayward/Rodgers Creek Faults.

Homes, mass transit corridors, major freeways and roadways intersect the Hayward at many locations. It is crossed by many critical water and gas pipelines, and electrical transmission lines. It begins near San Jose and winds its way northward through Santa Clara,  Alameda and part of Contra Costa County to San Pablo Bay.

The Hayward Fault has not ruptured since 1868, 142 years ago, in case you’re counting, and if you live in the Bay Area, you should be. The average period between the last 5 major quakes on the Hayward Fault  is 138 years.

Pressures in the Hayward Fault have been building unabated, since 1868. Similar pressures in the San Andreas Fault were at least partially relieved by the 1906 San Francisco quake, and to a small extent by the 1989 Loma Prieta. There has been no relief for the Hayward.

The 1868 quake was felt as far away as Nevada. There was major damage in Hayward, San Leandro and Fremont, and lesser but significant damage in San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco. Even Napa, yes, that Napa suffered substantial damage from the 1868 quake.

So, residents of Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda, Napa, Marin, Sonoma and other counties, the Hayward is your Fault too.  Your counties suffered damage in the 1868 quake,  you rely on services that traverse the Hayward Fault, or you live, work or commute on or near the Hayward Fault.

Residents of any area could find themselves in double- or triple-trouble. Some regions, like Marin and Sonoma counties have several large fault systems, in these cases the San Andreas and the Rodgers Creek Faults. Many have unknown faults, like the one that ruptured in Napa County, CA in 2000. In many cases, seismic waves from one fault rupture transfers to another, extending damage over a wider area than expected.

Oh yes, the United States Geological Survey (USGA) wants everyone to know that the 6.7 magnitude 1994 Northridge California earthquake occured on an unknown fault. The Northridge caused extreme damage to roadways, overpasses, buildings and other structures. 33 people were killed.  Over 7000 were injured. (this is a correction to the original post).

12,000 homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings were structurally damaged. The USGS says the world has many unknown faults. We cannot use our knowledge of existing faults to predict future earthquakes. Future quakes are as likely to occur on unknown as they are on known faults.

Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Washington D.C., Alaska, Washington, and many other parts of the U.S. and the World, you have your faults too. The Earth is full of them. Take heed. Mother Nature gives no warning. You’ll be on your own when she strikes.

Ready? If not, here are some tips. More will be coming in future posts:

1. Your family may not be together when an earthquake strikes. They may not be able to get home

Complete a communication plan for emergencies and disasters and keep copies at home, work  and in your car. Have wallet size versions with the most essential information for each family member. The plan should include emergency contacts, both local and out of state. When family members call the contact they should advise their exact location, whether injured or in need of help or not , and where they are going.

Teach each family member to text. Text messages get transmitted more readily than voice transmissions.

Telephones with transformers require electricity to work. This includes cordless phones and many business or advanced feature phones. Have at least one old-fashioned, no bells or whistles, plug in telephone at home, work, and hopefully, schools.

2. Essential services (water, electricity, trash service, sewage treatment plants, transportation and some roadways) may be inoperable for days to weeks. If transportation is disrupted, store shelves cannot be stocked. If electricity is out, ATMs, gas pumps, cash registers, and water pumps won’t work.

This will be more than an inconvenience for those who rely on oxygen concentrators, insulin and other drugs that require refrigeration, or those who don’t store extra water, baby formula or other essentials.

Store cash, water, food, medicines, baby formula, a solar or battery powered radio and extra batteries, first-aid and medical supplies and alternative light and heat sources in sufficient quantities to supply essentials to household members. Supplies must include at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person and pet – a 3 day supply is minimal, a two week supply may not be enough. If possible, store extra supplies to help out neighbors, friends and family who will be caught unprepared.

3. Expert help (police, fire, medical, nursing, pharmacies, utilities, ambulance) could be delayed, inaccessible, or unavailable for hours, days or weeks.

Stock  first aid supplies and a manual (available at the Red Cross, Amazon and bookstores) in your home. Take a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) course, available in most communities, and a First Aid class. Reach out to people in your neighborhood with special needs; the frail elderly, those with sight or hearing loss, in wheelchairs, with language barriers, or other needs who will require extra help in an emergency or disaster.

Before a disaster strikes, know how your community will respond. Where will emergency treatment locations be set up?  Is there a local emergency warning system? Are there experts in your neighborhood that would be willing to help? What is your EAS (Emergency Alert Station) for your area? For the San Francisco Bay Area counties, it is KCBS, 740 on the AM dial.

“Excuse Me, but Catastrophe Looms”

August 18, 2011 at 8:06 pm By Roz Potter

From The Tyee, in British Columbia,  Link

Excerpts:

After months of hand-wringing, I am authorized to report that North America has moved beyond the pall of doom and gloom to a more pleasant oblivion.

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan are all behind us now. No need to fret any further about the ugliness of natural disasters.

In the aftermath of this megathrust nightmare, we progressed briskly from a “teachable moment” through “disaster fatigue” to more important matters, like the royal wedding and who might replace Charlie Sheen as TV’s highest paid actor. What a relief to forget plate tectonics again.

In my recent (and thankfully transient) role as Harbinger of Doom, I had the unhappy task of warning people that a tectonic event just like the one in Japan (and in Sumatra before that) will — beyond any reasonable scientific doubt — hit the West Coast of North America. Same mega-quake. Same mega-tsunami. For the gory details, just Google the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

My book Cascadia’s Fault — The Deadly Earthquake That Will Devastate North America was published this spring, with the intention to wake people up in time to be safer and more resilient when the Big One hits.

But other than a few respectful book reviews, the reaction has been weirdly muted, as if people would rather not be bothered with an opportunity to save lives, even, very possibly, their own.

***

At first glance Cascadia’s threat might seem like a “regional” concern — which is code for saying “it’s just those wacky West Coasters getting all hyperbolic on us again.” But actually, it’s not.

Imagine five major cities — Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland and Sacramento, with dozens of smaller towns and villages in between — slammed all at once by the same earthquake. With tsunami wave damage across the entire Pacific Rim — from Hawaii and Alaska to Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Disaster on a scale so overwhelming that nothing in our history can serve as a reference point.

***

Get real, and prepare

When friends ask what it’s like being the bearer of so much dismal news, I say: “Honestly? I hate it. I just wish it would all go away.” Do you remember when Cher slapped Nicholas Cage in “Moonstruck” and told him to “Snap out of it!”? That’s what we should do about Cascadia’s fault. Snap right out of this depressing darkness and live in the moment. Whatever happens, happens. Right?

Perhaps Hollywood should make a movie of it. That would be a lot more fun. Think of how cool it would be to see five modern cities knee-deep in bricks and broken glass. Tall buildings and bridges collapsing, dams bursting. The special effects would be spectacular, especially when the tsunami starts washing away coastal towns from Canada to California.

New explosion at Fukushima – this time at reactor #3

March 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm By Roz Potter

Via Nikkei.com Link

Excerpt:

TOKYO (Kyodo)–A hydrogen explosion occurred Monday morning at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s troubled No. 3 reactor, the government’s nuclear safety agency said.

The 11:01 a.m. incident came after a hydrogen explosion hit the No. 1 reactor at the same plant Saturday, and prompted the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency to urge residents within a 20-kilometer radius to take shelter inside buildings.

It also followed a report by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, to the government earlier in the day that the radiation level at the plant had again exceeded the legal limit and pressure in the container of the No. 3 reactor had increased.

Millions are without power, water, food, sanitation or adequate shelter.  The latter is what is needed most in a release of radioactive particles.

States of Emergency declared at 5 nuclear reactors of 2 power plants in Japan

March 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm By Roz Potter

A six mile evacuation zone was created around the Fukushima Dalichi nuclear power plant unit 1 after authorities detected 8 times normal radiation levels outside the plant and 1,000 times normal levels in the control room.  Steam is being released to reduce pressure. The diesel generators that would normally keep cooling systems running have been disabled by last night’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake. According to Leonard S. Spector, director of the Washington office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, “a loss of coolant is the most serious type of accident at a nuclear power plant.

The nuclear core of the reactor must be cooled down to prevent it from reaching temperatures that at worst, could melt the core. The Chernobyl disaster in Russia resulting in a complete core meltdown. At three mile island in the U.S., a partial core meltdown occurred,

Japan relies on nuclear power for 30% of its electricity. Of Japan’s 54 reactors, 10 were shut down following the quake.

Read more…

Lessons from the Christchurch NZ Aftershock

February 24, 2011 at 12:56 am By Roz Potter

The “Ring of Fire” earthquake zone is the source of 80% of the world’s earthquakes. According to the USGS, the Ring of Fire “extends from Chile, northward along the South American coast through Central America, Mexico, the West Coast of the United States, and the southern part of Alaska, through the Aleutian Islands to Japan, the Philippine Islands, New Guinea, the island groups of the Southwest Pacific, and to New Zealand”. This earthquake belt was responsible for 70,000 deaths in Peru in May 1970, and 65 deaths and a billion dollars’ damage in California in February 1971 (the San Fernando quake).

Located on the Ring of Fire, Christchurch, New Zealand has some of the world’s most stringent building codes. Why then, did Tuesday’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake cause the collapse of many buildings, when September’s 7.1 magnitude quake in the same vicinity did little damage?

The devastation from the latest quake was an unfortunate combination of proximity, timing, and stress from September’s stronger but more distant rupture.

Tuesday’s earthquake, centered just 3 miles from Christchurch, a city of 390,000 people, was also just 3 miles deep. Shallower, closer quakes are more destructive. While September’s quake struck early on a weekend morning, catching most people at home in bed, Tuesday’s quake struck in the middle of a workday, finding people at multistory pre-World War II as well as more modern buildings, many of them unreinforced masonry, already weakened by September’s trembler.

The New Zealand Herald newspaper gives us a real-time glimpse into actual conditions following the quake. This report is from 4:22 PM today:

- All hospitals are operational and have been emptied to make room for victims

- 80% of the city is still without water. Emergency water supplies are available at locations, primarily schools throughout the city and neighboring towns. People are advised to bring their own containers. The water needs to be boiled before drinking.

If it rains, residents are urged to save all water for drinking. It is not to be used to flush toilets, take showers or baths.

- The sewage system has been damaged. People are advised not to flush their toilets and to use a bucket or dig a hole outside for human waste.

- Gasoline supplies are low and needed for emergency vehicles. People are advised not to buy gas except for critical uses. Roads are damaged.

- People are encouraged to walk to keep vehicles off the road. The public is to bring bedding, medications and personal effects with them to shelters.

- Power has been restored to 60% of the city. It may be several weeks before it is restored completely.

- All schools and day care centers are closed. People are only to report to work if they work in an industry supplying food.

- Telephone and cellphone calls are to be limited. Text messages are preferred as they place less load on networks. In yesterday’s paper, people were asked to change their cellphone messages to let callers know their location and to give alternate details if possible.

- Many supermarkets and ATMs are closed due to damage.

- The Port has sustained serious damage

- Aftershocks are continuing. More damage is expected. Residents are urged to drop, cover and hold on at the first sign of an aftershock.

Update: 2 26 11

The death toll stands at 145, with hundreds more missing. There are many traumatic injuries from collapsed concrete buildings.

Announcements

February 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm By Roz Potter

Although seemingly in absentia, yours truly has been working long hours behind the scenes pulling together a team and developing classes and materials to meet the demands of our times.  Even I, immersed in such topics as bio-terrorism since 2002, have been startled at the number and severity of the crises hitting our nation and the world.

Dan Leitner, P.I, has joined the Defying Disaster team. A licensed private investigator for over 30 years, Dan’s focus has been on protection, counter-terrorism, and various intelligence specialties.  He has worked with international corporations, law enforcement and the military. Dan created programs in Africa and Asia protecting the United Nations, multi-national corporations and nationals in high-risk countries. He will be instructing classes in crime prevention and disaster preparedness and providing consulting services.

Here’s the class lineup for March. We’re looking for venues to provide classes in other cities throughout the Bay Area. There is room in our calendar in late April and June. Please call if you’d like a class in your area, or for your company or group.

Earthquakes: local risks and readiness, Saturday, March 26, 2011 9 AM-12 noon.

Simulation exercises, discussion, lecture, video and demonstration will be used to inform you about what to expect, how to respond, and how to prepare for a serious earthquake, including local risks and vulnerabilities.  We’ll review  necessary elements for communication, reunification, evacuation and utility plans, safe food and water use during extended power outages, and 3-day emergency kits. I’ll be demonstrating emergency supplies and equipment including light sources, waste systems, and water purification options.

Cost $20 for early registration, or $30 thereafter. Seniors pay $15 for early registration, and $20 thereafter. To qualify for early registration, fees must be received 7 days before class date. Location, John Muir Inn, 1998 Trower Avenue, Napa, CA 94558

Instructor: Roz Potter, RN, MA, CIC

Unraveling Crime: burglary and identity theft, Saturday, March 19,  1- 4 PM  and Saturday, March 26, 1 – 4 PM.

Join private investigator Dan Leitner and educator Roz Potter for an afternoon of inquiry into the minds, motives, and modus operandi of criminals and the prevention of burglary and identity theft.

Using actual cases, we’ll evaluate situations and behavioral signs that could indicate serious threats, as well as how to assess and in some cases alter environmental and personal factors that may place you at higher odds of becoming a target. We’ll help you develop criminal / predator recognition skills which you’ll find useful in a variety of situations. And, you’ll learn the vital importance of intuition in crime prevention and how to improve your ability to recognize its signals.

Cost $40  for early registration and $50 thereafter. Seniors pay $30 for early registration and $40, thereafter. To qualify for early registration, fees must be received 7 days before class date. Location, John Muir Inn, 1998 Trower Avenue, Napa, CA 94558

Instructors: Dan Leitner, P.I. and Roz Potter, RN, MA, CIC

The Great California Shakeout Strikes

October 21, 2010 at 12:40 am By Roz Potter

On Thursday morning, October 21st at 10:21 am (local time) millions of Californians will participate in a statewide earthquake drill called The Great California Shakeout. As of midnight on 10/20/10, 7.8 million people had registered to participate.

 image

 A number of radio & TV stations across the state will play audio and/or video earthquake simulations at precisely 10:21am to add authenticity to the drill.

You can also download a variety of presentations from the Shakeout.org website to play at 10:21, to provide information and atmosphere. If you don’t have time for anything else, here’s a 1 minute drill with realistic sound effects and some instruction. It’s well worth a listen link.

For earthquake risks in the SF Bay Area, particularly the Hayward Fault, and for response tips, please refer to a previous post, “Whose Fault Is It?”, here. For risks in other areas of California, see “Quick Links” on the left side of the Shakeout page, here. Select your area from the drop down menu, “Earthquake hazards in your area”.

It’s too easy to make bad decisions during an earthquake. For more information, visit the USGS website, or the Earthquake Country Alliance here.

Whether you’re a Californian or not, sometime today take a few moments to inform yourself. Earthquakes happen. Those unprepared for the expected “Big One”, will unfortunately pay a bigger price.

Whose Fault Is It?

September 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm By Roz Potter

More people live and work on or near the Hayward Fault in the San Francisco Bay Area than any other fault in the United States. As of 2008, 2.4 million people lived close by. More than 1.5 million people “work at sites that would experience strong or very strong levels of shaking” from the next powerful quake on the Hayward Fault.

This is earthquake country. California has a 99% chance of having at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake anytime in the next 30 years. For the S.F. Bay Area, the risk is 63%. And of all the faults in the S. F. Bay Area, the risk is highest for the Hayward/Rodgers Creek Faults.

Homes, mass transit corridors, major freeways and roadways intersect the Hayward at many locations. It is crossed by many critical water and gas pipelines, and electrical transmission lines. It begins near San Jose and winds its way northward through Santa Clara,  Alameda and part of Contra Costa County to San Pablo Bay.

The Hayward Fault has not ruptured since 1868, 142 years ago, in case you’re counting, and if you live in the Bay Area, you should be. The average period between the last 5 major quakes on the Hayward Fault  is 138 years. 

Pressures in the Hayward Fault have been building unabated, since 1868. Similar pressures in the San Andreas Fault were at least partially relieved by the 1906 San Francisco quake, and to a small extent by the 1989 Loma Prieta. There has been no relief for the Hayward.

The 1868 quake was felt as far away as Nevada. There was major damage in Hayward, San Leandro and Fremont, and lesser but significant damage in San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco. Even Napa, yes, that Napa suffered substantial damage from the 1868 quake. 

So, residents of Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda, Napa, Marin, Sonoma and other counties, the Hayward is your Fault too.  Your counties suffered damage in the 1868 quake,  you rely on services that traverse the Hayward Fault, or you live, work or commute on or near the Hayward Fault. 

Residents of any area could find themselves in double- or triple-trouble. Some regions, like Marin and Sonoma counties have several large fault systems, in these cases the San Andreas and the Rodgers Creek Faults. Many have unknown faults, like the one that ruptured in Napa County, CA in 2000. In many cases, seismic waves from one fault rupture transfers to another, extending damage over a wider area than expected.  

Oh yes, the United States Geological Survey (USGA) wants everyone to know that the 6.7 magnitude 1994 Northridge California earthquake occured on an unknown fault. The Northridge caused extreme damage to roadways, overpasses, buildings and other structures. 33 people were killed. 141 were injured.

Of the 141 injured, 138 required hospitalization – those were nasty injuries. 12,000 homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings were structurally damaged. The USGS says the world has many unknown faults. We cannot use our knowledge of existing faults to predict future earthquakes. Future quakes are as likely to occur on unknown as they are on known faults.

Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Washington D.C., Alaska, Washington, and many other parts of the U.S. and the World, you have your faults too. The Earth is full of them. Take heed. Mother Nature gives no warning. You’ll be on your own when she strikes.

Ready? If not, here are some tips. More will be coming in future posts:

1. Your family may not be together when an earthquake strikes. They may not be able to get home

Complete a communication plan for emergencies and disasters and keep copies at home, work  and in your car. Have wallet size versions with the most essential information for each family member. The plan should include emergency contacts, both local and out of state. When family members call the contact they should advise their exact location, whether injured or in need of help or not , and where they are going.

Teach each family member to text. Text messages get tranmitted more readily than voice transmissions.

Telephones with transformers require electricity to work. This includes cordless phones and many business or advanced feature phones. Have at least one old-fashioned, no bells or whistles, plug in telephone at home, work, and hopefully, schools.

2. Essential services (water, electricity, trash service, sewage treatment plants, transportation and some roadways) may be inoperable for days to weeks. If transportation is disrupted, store shelves cannot be stocked. If electricity is out, ATMs, gas pumps, cash registers, and water pumps won’t work.

This will be more than an inconvenience for those who rely on oxygen concentrators, insulin and other drugs that require refrigeration, or those who don’t store extra water, baby formula or other essentials.

Store cash, water, food, medicines, baby formula, a solar or battery powered radio and extra batteries, first-aid and medical supplies and alternative light and heat sources in sufficient quantities to supply essentials to household members. Supplies must include at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person and pet – a 3 day supply is minimal, a two week supply may not be enough. If possible, store extra supplies to help out neighbors, friends and family who will be caught unprepared.

3. Expert help (police, fire, medical, nursing, pharmacies, utilities, ambulance) could be delayed, inaccesible, or unavailable for hours, days or weeks.

Stock  first aid supplies and a manual (available at the Red Cross, Amazon and bookstores) in your home. Take a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) course, available in most communities, and a First Aid class. Reach out to people in your neighborhood with special needs; the frail elderly, those with sight or hearing loss, in wheelchairs, with language barriers, or other needs who will require extra help in an emergency or disaster. 

Before a disaster strikes, know how your community will respond. Where will emergency treatment locations be set up?  Is there a local emergency warning system? Are there experts in your neighborhood that would be willing to help? What is your EAS (Emergency Alert Station) for your area? For the San Francisco Bay Area counties, it is KCBS, 740 on the AM dial.

I’ll be publishing other preparedness tips through October 21, 2010, when the great California Shake Out Earthquake Exercise will take place.

Defying Disaster is underwriting another preparedness workshop on November 6, 2010, this time at the Napa Library in Napa, California. Click here for more information.

44% of Households Surveyed Have an Emergency Plan. “Really!?”!

September 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm By Roz Potter

Seth and Amy, the Saturday Night Live duo, have elevated many questionable issues of our day to a well-deserved level of incredulity in their ”Really?!?” skits. It is in a Seth and Amy spirit that I ask if the statistic noted above, a survey finding, doesn’t seem a bit inflated? The statistic is from the 2009 Citizen Corps National Survey on Personal Preparedness in America, and can be found here.  The same survey found that 57% of respondents have supplies set aside just for diasters. On closer inspection, it turns out that those supplies often don’t include a portable radio, first aid kit or flashlight. So, are 57% of respondents really ready? I think not.

As I may have mentioned once or twice before, September is National Preparedness Month. In the likely event that you’re one of the 56% or so who don’t have a Household Emergency Plan, here are some links:

http://www.fema.gov/plan/prepare/plan.shtm

http://www.ready.gov/america/makeaplan/

http://72hours.org/make_plan.html

At minimum, your plan would include where to go, what to do, and how to reach household members, basic emergency services and information in the event of a disaster. In an emergency, you’ll be thankful to have critical information at hand. Really thankful. Review it with everyone involved and keep a copy at work and home, and a wallet-size version in packpacks and wallets.

Defying Disaster’s own comprehensive Emergency/Disaster Planning document, available to workshop and consulting participants, is currently in a format that does not lend itself to downloading.  A downloadable version will soon be available.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of an Emergency Plan, here’s some additional information. An emergency plan document is individualized for each household. It organizes essential information so you can more readily locate family members, and pets and obtain appropriate medical or other services in an emergency or disaster. Many list contact information for local hospitals, doctors, and pharmacies, in addition to evacuation and disaster emergency treatment locations, medical conditions, and emergency notifications. Contact, and family meeting (reunification) locations both near and far, are vital pieces of information, the former in the likely event your family is not together when the disaster hits, and the latter in case your entire neighborhood or area are affected. 

You can’t afford to be without an Emergency Plan. Put it at the top of your to-do list and tackle it a bit at a time for the rest of this Preparedness Month. Life happens. Get a plan, fill it out, and review it with family members and others mentioned. If you can’t manage to find the time or find the task too daunting, attend one of Defying Disaster’s Emergency Planning Workshops (we sponsor them regularly), or call me (707 255-7146) to schedule a time to get yours done. 

So, is your household ready? ”Really?!?” What about your business, organization and schools?

The San Bruno Inferno: We Must Reclaim Our Sense of Danger

September 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm By Roz Potter

1906, a massive earthquake hit San Francisco. Much of the city was leveled, not by the earthquake but by fires that erupted in its aftermath. One pipeline that carried water from San Andreas Lake to San Francisco was broken, leaving little water to fight the fires. 

1989, a large earthquake centered in the Santa Cruz Mountains topled buildings in several counties, destroyed a section of the SF Bay Bridge and multiple sections of the Crypress Freeway in Oakland, and severely damaged many other highways, bridges, pipelines and connections to homes, sewer systems and other infrastructure. Massive fires erupted from broken gas lines in the Marina district of San Francisco, one of several areas where damage was severe, in this case due to soil liquifaction.

September 9, 2010, at 6 PM, just as many people were sitting down to dinner, a massive inferno erupted from a break in a 24 inch natural gas pipeline in the hills of San Bruno, California, just south of San Francisco. Scores of homes have been destroyed, at least 6 lives lost and dozens have suffered burn injuries, some critical. 

These tragic incidents underscore our vulnerability to crumbling infrastructure and earthquakes which rupture underground pipes, large and small, including gas lines.  The released gas can be ignited into a flash fire by any electrical or mechanical device that can generate sparks including light switches, motor vehicles and generators, among others. The strike of a match, the click of a lighter or a barbeque igniter, or the pilot light of a water heater or stove can result in an inferno.

A gas leak should be one of our first concerns after an earthquake, or anytime a blowing, hissing or roaring sound is heard, or a gas odor is detected in, around, or under a building.  Any appreciable sound or odor should be cause for alarm and immediate action.  An earthquake need not be severe to cause a significant gas leak, due to the age or condition of gas pipelines.  If you detect a leak inside, open a window and quickly leave the building. If it is safe to do so, turn off the main valve outside. Call the gas company from a safe place. The events of yesterday will inform our actions about exterior gas leaks, at least in the short term. If in doubt, quickly gather your family and leave.

Unless you are certain there are no gas leaks, do not use open flames (lighters, matches, torches, grills, fireplaces, woodstoves, or operate any electrical or mechanical device that can generate sparks. As noted above, the latter includes light switches, generators, and motor vehicles. This means grabbing for flashlights and headlights, instead of light switches and informing your family and neighbors to do the same.

All gas leaks must be reported at once, whatever the cause. Please give due consideration to evacuating on your own, before official advisories are issued.

On Christmas Eve day in 2008, a natural gas explosion in Rancho Cordova, California, a suburb of Sacramento, killed one person and injured 5. It leveled one home and damaged several others. The leak originated from a 2 inch main line that runs under the driveway of the destroyed home, as well as the opposite corner. The same spot had been repaired just eighteen months earlier. One of two couplings used in the repair failed. See the  ABC News 10 Sacramento story. At a briefing by the National Transportation Safety Board, neighbors voiced concern that there was no call for evacuation by officials. The NTSB investigator cited in the story, Karl Gunther, stated, “I would say the only thing that sticks out for me, is why it wasn’t evacuated. One neighbor who spoke described the gas smell as a “strong leak”. 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which oversees the nation’s pipelines, reported 265 “significant” incidents in the US last year, resulting in 14 deaths, 63 injuries and more than 150 million in property damage, according to one of three related stories on pipeline safety published in the blog of The  Washington Independent, an online news source.

According to the story, a 2002 law requires inspection of pipes in populated areas (“high consequence areas”), but “there are no federal laws or regulations to ensure that houses and commercial buildings are constructed a safe distance away from pipelines” – no setback requirement. It is the job of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to oversee the nation’s pipelines. But the story’s author, Andrew Restuccia, points out in the article  that PHMSA has adopted a number of industry standards that were written by two powerful trade and lobbying groups, the American Petroleum Institute and the American Gas Association. These standards include critical safety issues including pipeline welding, evaluating the strength of corroded pipelines and testing of pipeline pressure.

The Pipeline Safety Trust, a non-profit group that advocates for safe fuel transportation, has set up a website with information about the San Bruno pipeline incident. Included is a map of PG&E’s natural gas pipelines in San Bruno and PG&E’s safety record. The latter does not include the Rancho Cordova incident described above as the utility company for Sacramento is not PG&E but SMUD, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Correction: PG&E is the gas supplier for Sacramento area  and was held responsible for the 2008 Rancho Cordova gas explosion.  Perhaps someone knows why the Rancho Cordova incident is not listed in the PG&E safety record posted on The Pipeline Safety Trust website?

Preparation is a Potent Antidote to Danger

September 2, 2010 at 9:34 pm By Roz Potter

Everyday life fulfills our most basic expectations. Lights go on. Store shelves are stocked. Banks open. Water is safe to drink. Medical, nursing, fire, and law enforcement personnel respond to emergencies.

But what if one day, the lights don’t work? Food, medicine, and gasoline deliveries stop. Banks and ATMs are closed. Water supplies are disrupted. There aren’t enough responders.

Whether from another Katrina-like climate disaster, a massive earthquake, a nuclear terrorist attack, or widespread electrical grid failure, it takes only one event of sufficient magnitude to transport us from lives of comfort and convenience to stressed-out survivors in need of food, shelter, sanitation, clean water and urgent medical attention.

These are clear possibilities from past events: the 1906 San Francisco, 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge quakes in California and more lethal quakes in Haiti, China, Turkey, Indonesia and elsewhere; 9/11; Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear incidents; Hurricanes Katrina, and Andrew; the Indonesian tsunami. Other long-forgotten catastrophes should be considered. One such event occurred in September, 1900. A hurricane and storm surge that converged with high tide in Galveston, Texas, killed more than 6,000 people, placing it among worst natural disasters in the Nation’s history. And there is nothing to stop such an event from happening again.

An unrelenting hum of destruction is felt around the world: Volcanoes and wars erupt; massive floods and droughts sweep the land; hurricanes and tornadoes level large areas; epidemics and pandemics emerge and spread; massive pollution fouls the air, earth and waters; ecosystems and habitats are lost; earthquakes spawn ruin; and terrorists destroy.  As we consider disaster preparedness, which of these do we heed and in what manner?

Each area has local vulnerabilities for which preparation is essential, whether for floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, industrial accidents, fires, or some combination. But there are many other catastrophic events that deserve a place in the public consciousness and preparedness activities. These include another devastating (nuclear, cyber?) attack by terrorists, a severe pandemic, extreme climate or atmospheric convulsion, or a massive electrical grid failure – all would bring an abrupt end to life as we know it, possibly for extended periods. Preparedness cannot save us all from the most destructive events. But planning, preparation and knowledge can greatly reduce risks, stress, suffering, and loss of life and property, for a variety of threats.

Everyone who has health, homeowners, or auto insurance or wears seatbelts or helmets is already preparing for an emergency. But the sheer scale of some calamities assures that neither insurance compensation, nor any hope of adequate government protection or provisions will be forthcoming.  These are the disasters that can place you, your household, neighbors and community, utterly on your own for hours, days or even weeks.

September is Preparedness Month. Now, before disaster strikes, seize a portion of each weekend for a preparedness activity. Involve your family. Develop a family disaster/communication/evacuation plan so each household member will know what to do if you’re separated at the time of the disaster and communications are cut off or roads impassable. Involve every person named in your plan as well as friends, family members, neighbors and others in your community. Remember that preparedness requires information and knowledge, as well as plans and supplies.

Stock at least a 7 day supply of water, 1 gallon per day for each family member and pet. Purchase familiar non-perishable food items to store in your disaster stockpile. Include a manual can opener and other tools. Assemble or purchase a first-rate first aid kit, and add a first aid book. Stock at least a one to two week supply of all essential medications and vitamins and a two week supply of cash and coins. Don’t forget a battery operated radio, flashlights, headlights, light sticks and other alternative light, heat and cooking sources plus extra fuel or batteries for each, comfort as well as recreational items such as card and board games. Also, supplies for infants and others with special needs. A mini version of your stockpile, a “go” bag with 3 days of provisions should be packed for each family member, for home, school and work, and even for pets.

And if you can, set aside one weekend day this month for an home-based exercise. Purchase a single one gallon bottle of water for each family member and pet, place a family member’s name on each and request that any water use, whether for drinking, cooking, or hygiene, be limited to that one gallon for a 24 hour period. For more adventurous souls, make all electrical use off-limits for at least 12 hours. That means no TV, appliances, stereo, lights, or computers. At the end of the exercise, ask family members if they would be willing to assist with development of disaster, communication and evacuation plans for your household. You’re likely to have some takers.

For advice on preparedness visit www.ready.gov, www.ready.govwww.cdc.gov, or www.72hours.org. You may also want to visit this website’s  ”Resources” page for an extensive listing of sources for emergency and disaster information.

If it doesn’t look as though disaster preparedness will make it to the top of September’s to-do list, another chance awaits. On Saturday, October 2, 2010 Defying Disaster is underwriting two preparedness workshops at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Napa. See today’s post titled “Get Your Family Ready: A Disaster Preparedness Day with 2 Workshops”, for more information. Or, submit an inquiry using the form on the Contact page of this website.

Defying Disaster Games, Website and GermTheory™ LLC provide information only, not medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Terms