No Quips About Earthquakes

Most Californians are accustomed to the idea of earthquakes, whether actually having encountered them or not.

For those who were raised here, safe earthquake practices have been etched in our minds. Some take them lightly, while others mechanically “drop, cover, and hold on” at the slightest shake.

On March 28, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck in La Habra. The damage was minimal, resulting in a broken window or two, but 17 million people felt the ’quake, turning to Facebook or Twitter to report their findings. In addition, 16,000 individuals used the “Did you feel it?” reporting system on the U.S. Geological Survey website to report the earthquake. USGS archive is unlike our Facebook feed; USGS tracks location, magnitude, depth, tectonic summaries etc. while our Facebook feed tracks reactions to earthquakes, and reactions to others’ reactions, all of which are only valid depending on the number of likes.

There tends to be three groups of people that respond in these situations — those who dramatize, those who trivialize, and those who simply don’t care. While social media in such circumstances can be informative, it generally can become excessive.

Not everyone cares to know that your frame is slightly off-center or a book has dropped from the shelf. Often times dramatic reactions turn into sources of comedy, fueling those who like to trivialize. For example, the video of the KTLA news anchor’s panicked reaction to the on-air March 17 earthquake went viral.

The poor guy was simply doing the right thing ducking under his desk, as he was caught off guard on television, but that’s funny! Haha … right? As much as we’d love to see “Earthquake: The Musical” come to fruition, the truth is that it’s a serious matter.

Chile just suffered an 8.2 magnitude earthquake on April 2, and while damage was less than expected, they suffered seven deaths. It just doesn’t feel right to take our fortunes for granted while others are suffering, especially with the supposed “big one” coming. Now more than ever, Californians should raise their awareness and prepare for the next inevitable ’quake.

People  are entitled to their opinion and can react as they wish, whether they’re the hyper cautious, the jokester, or the apathetic — the key is to be prepared. This doesn’t mean we must all take lengthy precautions, but at least find the motivation to actually roll out of bed next time.

Ideally, everyone would have extra food and supplies stored, have heavy objects and appliances bolted to the walls, and recognize the safe spaces in their homes. After all, we can only rely on the strength of our structural codes and infrastructure to a point.

Perhaps the boring safety lessons we learned as children are one of the few subjects which override the “when am I ever going to use this?” question. Next time an earthquake hits, we can take to dropping, covering, and holding on before facebooking and tweeting, because better safe than sorry (that we didn’t get those likes).


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