Blog: Enable Early Warning in Altadena and More Important Stuff About Earthquakes

You can enable an early earthquake warning system for Altadena by signing up for a free seismic sensor. Don't spend a lot of money on earthquake kits but do put a pillow over your head.

When Cal Tech Seismic Network Manager Richard Guy spoke at the Altadena Library last week he knocked our socks off! His films of recent earthquakes and simulations of what could happen here were shocking.  He convinced us NOW is the time to get ready and he gave some excellent low cost ways to do so.  Besides his great preparation tips, Guy also offered everyone at the event free earthquake monitors.  All that is required to use it is a stationary computer with an unused USB port. 

To enable an early warning system for our area 1,000 Altadena/Pasadena residents need to place one of the monitors, which is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, in their homes or businesses. The library signed up and so did I.  If you would like to do so too, you can still contact Richard Guy at Email: rguy@gps.caltech.edu

Some of Richard Guy’s main points for preparation: 

  • Altadena:  Our town is on sediment and that is not good. However most single family homes built after World War II will not collapse in a severe earthquake; older homes in general should be inspected after 1994 for potential seismic retrofitting. Anything on stilts can be a problem.
  • Fire: This can be a problem so get an earthquake automatic shutoff off valve for your gas heater and encourage neighbors to do so too. 
  • Bedroom: 1/3 of your life is spent in your bedroom. If you are in bed stay there and put a pillow over your head and shout to everyone else to stay put. Rearrange your bedroom to be safer with no lamps overhead.
  • Glass: Heavy curtains can curtain flying glass. If there is glass cover it with a blanket.
  • Earthquake kits: Don’t spend a lot of money for special items. Instead buy a few extra cans of food every week until you have a three week supply. Dry cereal and packaged milk also work well.  
  • Water: Plan on 5 gallons of water per person per week. Water heaters (strapped of course) hold 30 – 80 gallons of water. You can buy a gizmo that will create a spout to easily get to the water. You might also have on hand three weeks of bottled water and replenish as you use them.  Shut off water if there is a quake.
  • Toilet: Keep a package of 2-3 gallon garbage bags in the bathroom to cover the inside of the toilet and dispose.
  • Camping: You could be without power for three weeks. Pretend you’re camping
  • Flash lights: Hang a hands free hikers headlamp (Big Five, Target; eBay) on your bed post. Use it routinely and put it back! change batteries as needed.
  • Telephone: Keep your cell phone by your bed.  Recharge with a car adaptor.
  • Radio: Use your car radio.
  • Money: Banks and cash registers won’t be working. Keep $100.00 in ones on hand since stores will not be able to offer change. 
  • Comfort bag: Richard Guy’s bag is imprinted with the slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On!”  Besides extra medication, pencils, pens, pads of paper, glasses and keys, have some items to soothe and help pass the time. Suggestions include: a bottle of wine or Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider, some cookies or other comfort food, playing cards, a paperback book.    

More info on the Cal Tech Seismic Network and earthquake preparation can be found at  http://shakeout.org; http://EarthquakeCountry.info; http://DaretoPrepare.org; http://CommunitySeismicNetwork.org


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