Opinion: Duck and cover: College prepares for quake drill

Any day now.

Seismologists suggest Californians are long overdue for a devastating “big one,” and Citrus College students and faculty must act fast to prepare for a high-magnitude earthquake.

There will be a campuswide emergency practice drill on Oct. 19 here at Citrus.

The San Andreas Fault is one of the most dangerous earthquake hotspots in the world, and many of us are not aptly prepared to deal with the complications of a large quake involving it.

A great sense of comfort and confidence could come from knowing there are educated people and prepared measures being taken for the safety of everyone on our campus.

Southern Mexico has experienced multiple massive earthquakes in recent weeks. With hundreds of casualties as a result, the effects of the disasters have undoubtedly been horrendous.

The building regulations in Mexico may differ from those implemented in, say, Los Angeles, but the tragedies in our neighboring country should serve as a looming reminder for Southern California communities to take earthquake preparedness as seriously as possible.

Since the 1970s, there have been dozens of fatalities caused by the recent major Southern California earthquakes, prompting more a vigorous effort to ensure efficient building codes and secured infrastructure.

Retrofitting laws have been implemented in the city of Los Angeles and some surrounding communities as well.

For example, the city has laws requiring the retrofitting of wood-frame soft-story structures built prior to 1978 to prevent avoidable damage caused by earthquakes.

Amid the progress, there have been also setbacks.

It’s worth mentioning that President Donald Trump’s budget proposal in July of this year proposed a plan that jeopardized the future of early warning systems for earthquakes and tsunamis off the coast of California.

Both Mexico and Japan have developed their own early warning systems following their experiences with major earthquakes in the past.

Laws mandating updated structural codes have pushed the notion of earthquake preparedness further into a positive direction. However, the dialogue surrounding preparedness and safety on a local level should persist, grow and transform into real action on behalf of individuals, families and institutions.

An alarming factor to consider is the dormant fault resting directly beneath the Haugh Performing Arts Center. If this area is triggered, our campus would be at the epicenter of a quake. Would all of our buildings survive this?

Our Citrus College community as well as the ones around it must continue considering the effects of these natural occurrences with grave concern, and we should encourage those around us to be prepared with a lot more preparatory practice under our belts.

An Emergency Response Procedures flip chart is posted inside classrooms around campus.

The flip book advises to plan ahead for an earthquake by becoming familiar with safe spots and fire extinguisher locations. Remain calm and seek cover in the event of shaking. Hold on and “ride out the shaker,” it says. If outside, it is safer to avoid to tall buildings, and trees.

After the drill on Thursday, Citrus College should have a better understanding of the measures to take to stay as safe as possible during an earthquake.

As we collectively mourn the tragedy in Mexico, we must preemptively mourn the potential condition of a misinformed, unprepared Southern California after the big one finally hits.

Any day now.



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