Seismograph readout

Readout from a siesmograph

Prepare or Paranoia?

Which is better. I firmly believe that taking the steps to prepare is better. Duh! To be completely prepared is difficult, if not impossible. Still, any steps you take toward preparation will reward you should any disaster occur, and will provide you with an additional sense of peace knowing that plans have been made and steps taken.

I recommend having a backpack in the car for each family member. It should be ready to go; ready to hit the trail for months, not the three days you often hear recommended. If things get bad, what are you going to do on day 4? How about day 10?

I also believe a grab-n-go kit by your bed is a wise idea. This is something you can grab with one hand and includes items like keys, glasses, shoes, and whatever clothing you might want.

The I have heard some say don’t run outside. I suspect they are reasonably thinking of avoiding possible encounters with falling glass. In the past, I have given serious consideration to avoiding falling coconuts. Glass, coconuts, trees, power lines…I always know what’s overhead because I take a moment to survey “what’s up.”

On November 29, 1975, a little before 4 AM, I experienced the 7.2 magnitude Kalapana quake. It generated a tsunami, killed two and did about $4 million in property damage. There was a small volcanic eruption that day, too. I was in Hilo, Hawaii, approximately 27.27 miles away (bearing 168.22 degrees) from the epicenter and was inside watching the concrete block walls move in a very unnatural and disturbing way. I lept into the nearest doorway and fought to stay there.

I had a completely unexpected battle to fight. In the middle of wondering if the building was going to crumble, or slide into the river, everything heavy on the top shelf of the closet was bounced by the wall and came flying out. Those objects (boxes of photos?) were heavy enough to make the closet doors fly open which in-turn put pressure to slam closed the door of the doorway I was using for my safety and preservation. At least that gave me something to do for one of the longest minutes of my life.

Here’s my current policy:  since I live on the ground floor, I’m am getting outside ASAP. In fact, I think that getting a door open fast might be prudent because it does not take much of a tweak to jam a door so tight nobody could open it.

You may want to visit my p-wave and s-wave page to gain an understanding of these two aspects of an earthquake. Knowing about these can help you estimate the distance to the epicenter. It’s pretty easy, too!

I also subscribe to free notification services so that I can receive notifications automatically by email. There are more services worldwide. Here are the ones I use


Earthquakes, local and global email alerts

USGS EQ alerts




Tsunami Warning email alerts

U.S. West Coast, Alaska, BC

Entire Pacific Ocean

Custom Internet Search


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.