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A major earthquake would be quite an unpleasant and difficult experience. It would pose severe challenges for us as individuals and as a community. But by working with our neighbors, we can protect our families and our property, and help each other to make it through.

Cooperation in a disaster is built on existing social networks. Anything you can do now to promote social connections on your block will help: Block parties, crime watch, cookouts, etc.

What we’re responding to: Conditions After an Earthquake

  • We are on our own: After an earthquake, the agencies that usually help us will be overwhelmed with emergency conditions throughout the city. The 9-1-1 system will be broken or overloaded. Professional responders – Fire, Rescue, Medical, Utility, and Police – will not be able to come and help us in our homes. We must act as “first responders” on our own block.
  • Sudden emergency conditions: Ground shaking causes damage to buildings and pipes, potentially causing gas leaks and fire. Fire fueled by natural gas is the most common hazard after an earthquake. Modern residential buildings usually do not collapse, but within homes objects fall, fly, or slide, potentially causing injuries. Houses may be shaken from their foundations or damaged, potentially trapping people inside.

What we’re doing: Block Response Objectives

Highest priority:

  • Fire ControlImmediately: Find and extinguish small fires anywhere on the block, at any time.
  • Gas ControlWithin 15 minutes: Visit every gas meter on the block; determine if there’s a leak; if so, shut it off.
  • Rescue & First AidWithin 1 hour: Visit every house on the block; determine if people are trapped or injured; rescue them and provide first aid, if it is safe to do so.

Lower priority:

  • Communications: Listen to AM/FM radio for official information, if stations are operating. Connect with the Neighborhood Net via walkie-talkie, or go to a nearby Hub. Provide and receive information about local conditions.
  • Medical Care and Transport: Gather injured people at a central location where you can care for them. If you learn that medical services are available, transport injured to care.
  • Shelter and Care: Gather elderly, children, and people with special needs to a central location where you can supervise and care for them.
  • Coordinate Mutual Aid and Security: Determine needs and resources available on the block. Organize households to help each other. Monitor activity on the block and in nearby areas.

Block Response Procedure

Immediately after the event:

  1. Complete the Household response procedure (see attached) to secure your home.
  2. Place OK/Help sign (or white/red marker) in your front window, or where visible to neighbors.

If your household is OK:

  1. Dress for safety: sturdy shoes, leather gloves, long pants and shirt, hard hat or helmet.
  2. Place your fire extinguisher on the sidewalk in front of your home for others to use.
  3. Go to your Block Meeting Place.
  4. Divide into teams of at least 2 people. Dispatch teams to visit each home on the block, to accomplish highest-priority objectives (see above).
  5. Return to the Block Meeting Place, report what you have done, and make further plans.

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