Menifee Mom: More Lessons Learned From Another Shaker

By Karen Thomas

Did your family feel the earthquake last weekend? Mine did. We were all sitting upstairs talking on my bed when everything started rumbling. It was a small shaker, but it certainly got our attention!

I'd like to say that our efforts to teach our kids to "duck, cover, and hold on" were successful and everyone grabbed a pillow to protect their heads, but we all just sat there saying, "We're having an earthquake!" I know it didn't require action, but I'd like to have seen some type of thoughtful reaction. At least I can proudly report that no one panicked.

After a long quiet period, it seems the earthquake faults have awakened again. Perhaps the little shaker we had was also a wake-up call to all of us that we need to be prepared.

Though the city of Menifee isn't on top of any major faults, it does lie between the San Jacinto Fault and Elsinore Fault. Some experts say the Elsinore fault is at high risk of producing a big quake soon.

When you have little kids, preparing for an earthquake can be a little tricky. You have to find that balance between teaching them what we need to do and not scaring them so much that they won't leave your side! For the most part, though, I have found that helping our kids feel prepared eases their fears.

We found some great videos online that demonstrate what to do and what not to do. We previewed them first to determine which ones were most appropriate for our kids. It really helped them visualize what it would be like in an actual earthquake and helped them to see what they can do to be safe in different situations: Lying in bed, in the car, at school, playing outside, etc. For days afterwards, our kids would ask, "What should I do in this room if there was an earthquake?"

The USGS and FEMA websites have pages dedicated to teaching kids how to be prepared. There are even online games. The Earthquake Country Alliance outlined the following seven basic steps for earthquake preparedness:

Step 1: Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items. (Our family is reminded that we need to secure that tall heavy armoire and bunk beds in the kids room!)

Step 2: Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency. (We told our kids where our alternate meeting place is in case our home is not accessible.)

Step 3: Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations. (We have backpacks with basic food and emergency supplies for each member of our family. It is also advised that you keep a flashlight, sneakers, and leather gloves next to the bed to aid in escaping a major disaster.)

Step 4: Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance. (Keeping insurance documents, birth certificates, etc . in a fireproof safe is always a good idea.)

Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On when the earth shakes. (We learned that you shouldn't run outside and if you are in bed, stay there. You shouldn't run to your kids' rooms because you are likely to get hurt on the way, making you no help to them when shaking stops. And -- a surprise to me -- doorways are not the safest place!)

Step 6: Improve safety after earthquakes by evacuating if necessary, helping the injured, and preventing further injuries or damage. (In the event there is damage, you should shut off your main gas line and avoid using any electricity; a spark could cause an explosion if there is a gas leak.)

Step 7: Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community.

I love step 7! Whenever there is a major disaster, we see contrasting images of communities pulling together and looters taking advantage of the situation. In Menifee, our citizens have shown a lot of support for others who've experienced their own personal disasters of one kind or another. I'd like to think that we would help dig each other out in a large scale disaster, too.

If nothing else, teach the members of your family to "Duck, Cover, and Hold On." It just may save their life someday.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.


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