Loma Prieta 25th Anniversary (LP25): An Opportunity to Commemorate, Connect, and Prepare

Originally posted on San Francisco DEM:


October 17th at 5:04 p.m. will mark the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. For those of us who were in the San Francisco Bay Area during the earthquake, we saw the region come together and rebuild, and as a result become stronger and more resilient. Whether you were here to experience the Loma Prieta earthquake first hand, observing from afar, or too young (or net yet born), this anniversary means something to all of us—because living in the San Francisco Bay Area means living with the ocean, the hills, and fault lines, too.

The Loma Prieta earthquake’s 25th anniversary (LP25) commemoration is brought to the San Francisco Bay Area in partnership among government, non-profit, and private sector organizations whose missions are to respond to and recover from emergencies. The goal of LP25 is to create a series of events to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta…

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Preparedness is about connection, not catastrophe.

Originally posted on San Francisco DEM:

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Many of us were awakened early Sunday morning by the largest earthquake in the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta earthquake nearly 25 years ago. Thankfully, San Francisco suffered no damage. But we know that aftershocks in the region are common following a large earthquake of this magnitude. This is a good reminder that we need to do what can now, before the next earthquake, because that will make our City’s recovery all the more effective.

But while we are taking stock of our emergency preparedness, we want to underscore this: emergencies look more like cities coming together than falling apart. And at the heart of this is connection.

While Sunday morning’s earthquake is foremost on our minds, let’s use this as an opportunity to not only build upon our earthquake preparedness, but connect within our community networks about emergency preparedness in general. Have a conversation about preparedness with your family…

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DEM’s Demo Days

Originally posted on San Francisco DEM:

Something is in the air when it comes to really awesome technologically and/or socially innovative ideas that support emergency management. Just this week alone, DEM was involved in three very exciting “Demo” events:

  1. DEM was invited to the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day where we were thrilled to announce the launch of City72, an open-source emergency preparedness platform modeled after our own SF72  that is designed specifically for local governments and provides the information and resources to create a customized City72 site for any city or region (for more about City 72, read on).
  2. While at the White House, we also announced our formalized partnership with AirBnB to help facilitate temporary housing should they arise during an emergency (for more about the DEM-AirBnB partnership, read on).
  3. During the San Francisco Entrepreneurship in Residence Demo Day DEM was joined by the company Regroup to showcase a project linking…

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From the Field: DEM Volunteering Medical Relief in Haiti

Originally posted on San Francisco DEM:

Occasionally, staff members at San Francisco DEM have an opportunity to travel abroad. They frequently write back with their observations. The following journals a recent trip by DEM Emergency Medical Services Agency staff members, Crystal Wright and John Brown, who went to Haiti to volunteer their personal time and professional expertise to the rural town of Leon. 


Crystal Wright, EMT-P, and John Brown MD, recently returned from a week of volunteer work in rural Leon, a town of some 8,000 people in the Grande Anse province of southwestern Haiti. The reason for their visit was to support a local dispensary staffed with a nurse, a pharmacist, a dentist and a tuberculosis program health aide. The medical operation, begun in 2000 by the Seattle King County Disaster Team (a member of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team program of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department) as a training mission for health care…

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Muscle Memory

Last week a 6.9 magnitude earthquake shook northern Greece and Western Turkey. The quake caused 266 injuries–mostly resulting from people rushing out of buildings. So, we’re going to get up on our soap box (or under it, should the earth move) and remind everyone what to do during an earthquake.


Quake Basics

  1. Fight the urge to run (and that includes running to get in a doorway!).
  2. Try to get next to an interior wall, away from windows, and drop (think: I’m not going to run any where because that’s how I can get hit by flying objects or get knocked over).
  3. Make yourself as small as possible (think: I need to curl up into a ball to protect my vital organs).
  4. Hold on your head (think: I need to protect my head from getting hit by falling objects).
  5. If you are close to table, or something akin, get under it and hold on to a leg (but only if you are close to one; if you have to move a ways to even get to a table you’re safer to drop where you and hold your head/neck).


If you or someone you know has an access and/or functional need, learn more about what to do during an earthquake here

Practice, Practice, Practice!

As we just saw in Turkey, many of us have an instinctual urge to run out of a structure during an earthquake. To fight this knee-jerk reaction, we need to practice the safest thing to do during an earthquake, which is to drop, cover and hold on. And by practicing, we create muscle memory: meaning, actually going through the motions in drills can teach your body to know exactly what to do in that moment when you feel the earth move.

Want to practice drop, cover, and hold? It’s really easy to do: pretend you are experiencing  an earthquake, and get under a desk or table and hold on to a leg.  If you aren’t close to anything you can get under, drop to the ground and make yourself as small as possible.  Cover your head and neck with your arms all the while thinking about trying to protect your head and vital organs as you curl into as small of a target as possible. Want to see exactly how to do it? See this video demo:


Doorways aren’t your friend in an earthquake, especially in modern houses and buildings. That old myth comes from the time when homes were made out of things like reinforced adobe, and the doorways were actually the strongest parts of the building. These days, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house, and you have no way to protect yourself from flying or falling objects. And while you are trying to get to said doorway is when you are most vulnerable to injury.

You might’ve heard of the “triangle of life” method, or finding shelter in the void space next to a larger object in an earthquake. DO NOT to follow the triangle of life advice, mostly because the greatest danger during an earthquake is from falling objects, and in a really big quake, you might not actually be able to run or crawl to find a “triangle of life” zone. Learn more about why the triangle of life is not safe.

For more myths, check out Southern California Earthquake Center’s Earthquake Myths.

Getting the 4-1-1 After the Earthquake (or any Emergency)

In an emergency, don’t call out on your phone, but if you have access, use text, Facebook, and/or Twitter to share your status and what’s happening around you. Use the hashtag #SF72 in your post, which helps the city to be aware of and respond to the situation at hand. Follow @SF_emergency on Twitter to find out (and share) the latest updates.  We’ll also let you know what’s happening via our SF72 Crisis Map.

Become an Earthquake Preparedness Guru

Programs like the Fire Department’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (SF NERT) provides free training that will allow you take care of yourself, your family, and your neighborhood in the next disaster.

Spread the Word

Share this information with your loved ones and go to www.sf72.org to learn how to be prepared for just about any emergency. And remember, you are more prepared than you think!