My wife was on the phone when the earthquake hit. She was talking to a friend living in San Francisco, about 30 minutes north of our house. “Oh my God, earthquake,” my wife exclaimed into the phone. “An earthquake?” asked her friend. “Are you sure?”
The earthquake only lasted for a few seconds, just long enough for it to register with my wife and I that it was indeed an earthquake. It didn’t even last long enough for us to react. It was like a huge hand reached out of the sky and gave our house a quick, little shake. A few seconds later my wife’s friend in San Francisco exclaimed into the phone, “Oh my God, earthquake,” as it quickly rolled north from its epicenter.
In the split second the earthquake was shaking our house, I was thinking of training I give to employees at my workplace. In an earthquake, you should drop to the ground, take cover under something solid and hold on for the ride. If there isn’t something solid to take cover under, then crouch down along a wall and cover your head and neck with your arms. Try to avoid exterior walls, windows, mirrors, wall hangings and other objects that might break or fall over in an earthquake.
Not everyone agrees that this is the best technique for surviving an earthquake. Another recommendation is the “Triangle of Life.” However, most authoritative organizations such as the California Offices of Emergency Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey and the American Red Cross recommend drop, cover and hold as the best action to take during in an earthquake.
If you are ever on the phone with someone in the next neighborhood and they yell “earthquake” into the phone, don’t wait–drop, cover and hold.