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When a 9.0 earthquake and the concurrent tsunami hit Japan in March, the entire world watched as the forces of nature ravaged one of the most developed countries in the world. Radio programs, television screens and websites flickered with sounds and images of pure devastation. Over 10,000 lives were lost, and many are still missing. News continues to pour in daily about the effects of the disaster.

We at the New University deeply sympathize with any and all who have been affected by this great tragedy and would like to take this opportunity to make a call for action.

The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami serve to highlight ways we as Californians need to be better prepared. It is important to note that natural disasters can occur in all areas. Whether you live in the Midwest, near the coast or in the mountains, there is never any excuse not to be prepared for the unpredictable.

We look to the admirable way that Japan has dealt with this tragic situation. The early warning system instituted by the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a countrywide alert just three minutes after the earthquake first hit. According to Tom Heaton, a CalTech professor of geophysics and civil engineering, the alert is the first of its kind. Though it is not yet at the level where it can predict the disaster before it happens on a larger scale, the warning system tells inhabitants approximately when the waves will hit their area and how big they will be, allowing people some time to reach safe ground.

The Japanese have also made conditions in affected areas as organized as possible. Rescue and aid efforts have ensured that survivors are taken care of while new survivors are found. Reports have come in from the area, which tell of no riots or looting.

In Tokyo, people have already taken this situation to heart by stocking up on important rations, like spare batteries.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that we live in California (a.k.a. one of the most earthquake-prone states in the United States) when we are distracted by the sunshine and the surf. The last major earthquake to occur was the 1994 Northridge quake; the 7.9 1906 earthquake in San Francisco was also one of the most famous and documented natural disasters.

While we live here and enjoy all the benefits that California has to offer, we must also take the necessary steps to ensure we are properly prepared when we are faced with the dangerous disadvantages of living here.

Just in the Irvine/Orange County area, we are susceptible to earthquakes, tsunamis, fires and floods. Despite the engineering measures we have taken to prevent or lessen the effect of these natural disasters, as Japan has showed, no manmade creation is a match for Mother Nature.

A proper preparedness kit includes: water, water purification tablets, non-perishable food, a blanket, a flashlight, a radio, extra batteries and a first-aid kit. There are more items you may include, like utility gloves, a knife and however else you would like to customize your kit.

By being prepared, we can avoid much of the unnecessary and unproductive panic that has been occurring ever since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Now is not the time to be apathetic. Alternatively, instead of worrying about things that may happen by posting your concerns on your Twitter feed or Facebook status, it is best to be prepared for what will happen and spend that energy, instead, on giving aid to Japan.

Please send comments to newuopinion@newuniversity.org. Include your name, year and major.


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