May 2011 home page


CERTain Plans
Piper Underwood | Rimini Road


Photo illustration Art Olson



If the “Big One” struck, do you know where you would go? What you would do? This was precisely the question CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) trained facilitator Carol Kerridge asked a small group of neighbors gathered in my living room. To tell you the truth there weren’t a lot of options. Certainly we couldn’t all fit under my coffee table.

The question becomes particularly poignant in light of the recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, a nation renown for both its volatile geology, and a culture prepared for large earthquakes. We here in Del Mar are not located on, or near a subduction plate like the one which caused the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan, however we do have some nearby faults that are capable of giving us a good shake.

While scientists work on their prediction capabilities, the best thing us citizens can do is make a plan. Our disaster preparedness expert, Carol Kerridge, walked us through the steps of preparing for the most likely scenarios of earthquake and wildfire. Over 600 Del Mar residents have attended similar meetings through the Are You Ready, Del Mar? disaster preparedness program, which is sponsored by Del Mar Community Connections.

As most of us already know, it’s critical to have all-important documents, such as birth certificates, social security cards and insurance papers at the ready for a quick escape. We might also know that we need a 3 day supply of water on hand and some canned goods in case water and food supplies are unavailable. However, we may not think of things like having at least a ½ tank of gas in the car at all times, or having a land line in our home in case cell phone service is overloaded.

It’s best to start with a list focusing on communication with contacts outside the potential disaster area and on the possible items you may need to sustain you and your family (including pets) for a few days based on possible shortages of water, food, gas and electricity. You should be familiar with the location of your water, gas and electrical shut off areas. The devil is in the details – Experts recommend that you paint your gas shut-off valve red and don’t forget a correct fitting wrench!

As I look around my own home, there are several items that could do some real harm – there is the large, unattached mirror propped up on our mantel, and a wood and glass cabinet filled with glass bottles. All of these dangers can be prevented with a little adjustment. The next step is to make the list and then actually practice it, particularly if you have children.

Kerridge gave us valuable pointers such as having a pre-determined meeting spot outside our home so that we can safely account for all family members and don’t unnecessarily send someone back into a home that is compromised searching for a loved one who is already safe.

If you haven’t already, it’s wise to register for reverse 9-1-1 calls and emails and you may also want to register through the City of Del Mar for emergency alerts. You can accomplish this on the city’s website.
Now, are you ready, Del Mar?



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