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  • 5 Ways the Chile Earthquake Affects You

    Epicenter - Telegraph - Chile Earthquake via The Telegraph

    Yesterday afternoon, Chile was struck by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake causing tsunami watches from California to Hawaii, Samoa, and New Zealand. A 15-foot tsunami was generated along the coast of Chile near where the earthquake went off, forcing over a million people to leave their homes and head for higher ground.

    The powerful Chile earthquake slammed the country, toppling buildings and knocking out power. Near the epicenter was widespread power outages, and cellular networks essentially collapsed in some areas. Running water is still off in some places. The entire city of Illapel, Chile was dark Thursday night, and, with their homes destroyed, thousands of citizens were forced to sleep outside.

    Earthquakes are a devastating disaster that are hard – if not downright impossible – to predict. When an earthquake strikes, the time for preparing is over. While this recent Chile earthquake is a real, heartbreaking disaster to those effected, we can still learn how to prepare from their experiences.


    Power and Light

    Chile Earthquake CNBC via CNBC

    The Chile earthquake knocked out power in widespread regions following this earthquake. That means if those people don’t have another source of light and electricity, they may be left in the dark for quite some time. It was already late in the evening in Chile when the earthquake struck, and the sun had probably finished setting. An earthquake is dangerous enough in the daytime. When it’s dark and the power goes out, things can get even worse.

    In preparing for an earthquake, make sure you have extra light sources handy. Flashlights, head lamps, and other emergency lights are a must-have when it comes to earthquake preparedness. Tripping over rubble and debris in the dark can cause hurt and injury. If the earthquake doesn’t hurt you, other things very well could.



    Cell phone service became absolutely useless following the Chile earthquake. Networks were down, so there was no way to contact family, friends, or even emergency services. Without cell service, I’m sure many people were unable to receive the information they needed.

    Emergency communications, such as radios, can provide essential information when other forms of communication drops. Having an emergency communications plan can also help you find your loved ones following a disaster. If everybody knows where your family’s emergency meeting place is, then you will all be able to meet up afterwards. Plan ahead, because you won’t always have cell service when you need it.



    According to Reuters, running water was also hard to come by. Make sure you have a way to get water in an emergency. This could be from a water barrel, emergency water in cans, or by water filter. There are other options available, so do your research and know which method works best for you in your situation.



    Chile Earthquake Shelter via Reuters via Reuters

    Thousands of people were forced to sleep outside after their homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Sleeping outside without shelter can put you at the mercy of the elements, and we've seen this before in Nepal and the city of tents that sprung up after their massive earthquake. If you’re forced out of your home due to natural (or other) disaster, the last thing you want is for more natural elements to give you a hard time. Tents, both large and small, can be a great asset to your emergency preparations. If nothing else, emergency ponchos can at least keep you warmer than your shorts and t-shirt. Again, research your options, and choose what’s best for your situation.



    Crowd and Fire - Telegraph - Chile Earthquake via The Telegraph

    With the power out, you may be in for a cold night. In some raw video of the aftermath of this earthquake, people are shown around a large fire in the middle of the street. While it’s great that they were able to start a fire to stay warm, that might not always be possible. Earthquakes may also hit during the winter, and a fire might not be good enough (although it would most certainly be better than nothing).

    From big heaters to emergency blankets and other sources of heat, you should have at least something on hand to keep you and your family warm should the power go out.


    In just a few moments, the people of Chile went from comfortable to out on the streets. Things can change in the blink of an eye, but if you’re prepared with the gear and prep you need, emergencies such as this Chile earthquake won’t be so bad. They will probably still be unpleasant, but at least you can be comfortable, safe, warm, and taken care of.


    What is your must-have piece of emergency prep for an earthquake?


    Chile Earthquake Banner

  • The Desolation of Cascadia...and How to Prepare

    So, the Pacific Northwest is going to get pummeled by a super-massive earthquake followed by a monstrous tsunami. Worst case scenario, everything West of Interstate 5 will be unrecognizably devastated.

    When I last left you following my latest post about the forthcoming destruction of the Pacific Northwest thanks to the Cascadia subduction zone (check out that article here), I promised to come back and talk about the implications such a disaster could cause. But before we jump into that, let me sum up what we’ve discussed thus far:

    • Cascadia subduction zone - Japan tsunami 2011 Japan tsunami, 2011 - Australian Geographic

      The Cascadia subduction zone is 72 years overdue for a super-massive earthquake, bigger even than what the San Andreas Fault could dish out.

    • FEMA asserts that everything west of the I-5 will be destroyed from Northern California up into British Columbia.
    • A monstrous tsunami will come about 15-30 minutes after the earth stops rumbling.
    • Devastation

    Now that you’re caught up, let’s talk implications.

    Cascadia subduction zone - Hurricane Sandy Power Poles Hurricane Sandy left millions without power

    As reported in the New Yorker article, if this quake were to happen, “the I-5 corridor…will take between one and three months after the earthquake to restore electricity, a month to a year to restore drinking water and sewer service,” and the list goes on. Not taking into consideration the amount of time it would take to rebuild the major infrastructure, it will require an estimated 18 months for health care facilities to come back online. During that year and a half, you’ll want to be prepared to take care of yourself and your loved ones, because emergency services are going to be reserved for the worst-case patients.

    But that’s just around the I-5. Towards the coast, things will be even worse. With a one to three year wait for drinking water and sewage systems to be back in action, you will definitely want a few alternate sources of water. In this case, water filters and desalinators would be a great option, as they are portable and can supply you with clean drinking water even if you have to evacuate your home (which you more than likely will).

    But the setbacks don’t stop there. With that much damage, FEMA expects that U.S. taxpayers will have to cover at least 75% of the damage. They wouldn’t be surprised if taxpayers even had to pay 100% of disaster recovery. Because of this and other massive expenses, “the economy of the Pacific Northwest will collapse.” Even if you live in the worst-hit location, having an emergency food storage will help see you through a season where you may not have any income for quite some time.

    I’ll be honest, the New Yorker article referenced here and in my last post was pretty disheartening. The author went into great detail as to the nature of this disaster, the history of the Cascadia subduction zone, and how the adjacent regions would be effected. It was a well-researched piece of writing, however, and it most certainly stirred the pot. But did it achieve its purpose?

    You betcha.

    It got people talking. As the good men of G.I. Joe say, “Knowing is half the battle,” and that article provided you with 50% of what you need to win against a devastating earthquake. The other 50%? Implementation.

    Cascadia subduction zone Cascadia subduction zone - Carleton College

    In response to the New Yorker article and all the hullabaloo surrounding it, FEMA released a statement in which they didn’t apologize for a single word that was published. Instead, they gave it their proverbial stamp of approval. They also agreed with the masses of commenters in that “the science in the article isn’t new” regarding the Cascadia subduction zone and its threat. This is something we’ve been warned about again and again. Most importantly, however, they are glad the article got your attention. That’s “the first step to get better prepared,” they said, “because you are better informed.”

    Don’t let this discussion be just another meal-time conversation that’s forgotten by tomorrow’s breakfast. FEMA admonishes people everywhere to “take it further by making a family emergency plan and starting your emergency supply kit.”

    You know what’s coming, now go do something to prepare.

    As FEMA suggested, get an emergency kit. We have plenty to choose from, as well as individual items to help supplement your already-existing kits. Do you have an alternate energy source? You should, because it’ll be a long time before you get power back if you’re stuck in the effected region.

    Aside from the traditional preparations – including food, water, and power – one commenter queried how many people knew important phone numbers should they lose their phone? It may be hard to memorize all the numbers you need to know, but there are free apps you can download for your devices, such as CS Matrix It for Android and Contacts to Excel for iOS. These apps will help import your phone contacts to your computer, and from there you can print out your contacts list so you can always have them with you should you need them.

    The Cascadia subduction zone is a real threat, but once again, if you’re prepared you’ll be in a much better position than if you’re caught unawares.

    FEMA did not apologize for the forward nature of the New Yorker regarding this looming disaster, nor should they. They want you to know what to expect, so you can be better prepared. In light of that, I would like to reiterate the importance of acting on what you know. You read the article because you were interested. Now that you are aware of what could happen, go and prepare for it.

    Even if you don’t live near the Cascadia subduction zone and the area in question, there are plenty of other disasters that could affect you. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start preparing today!


    Are you preparing for “the big one” in your area? Let us know how!


    Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake Banner

  • FEMA Warns The Big One Will Be Much Bigger Than You Think

    “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

    Well then. That's not very optimistic, is it? But, according to the New Yorker article entitled The Really Big One, that’s what Kenneth Murphy (director of FEMA’s Region X) believes will happen after the long-overdue Cascadia earthquake and Tsunami.

    What’s that? You weren’t aware there is a massive fault line running off the coast of Cape Mendocino, California, and runs all the way up to Vancouver Island, British Columbia? That’s OK. Most people only really know about the famous San Andreas Fault, made even more infamous by the recent film. But it’s true. There’s another, lesser-known fault that is just biding its time, waiting to wipe out everything west of the I-5.

    But before we delve into this new threat (which is really not that new at all), let’s do some comparisons. According to the New Yorker article (see above for link), the San Andreas earthquake – when it happens – will only reach about an 8.2. Yes, indeed that is powerful (as the Emperor has foreseen...), but it will probably be more like “a” big one rather than “the” big one. The Cascadia subduction zone, however, is a different story. If only the southernmost part of the Cascadia subduction zone gives way, that earthquake will be between an 8.0 and an 8.6. That’s getting up there in size. However, if the whole thing goes off at once, experts expect “the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2.”

    Nervous yet? No? Then check this out.

    When this earthquake hits, “the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty feet to a hundred feet to the west – losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries.” That makes it sound like like North America is going to turn into a giant springboard.

    Which, essentially, is what will happen.

    The Big One - Cascadia Subduction Zone Earth Magazine

    Don't worry, it took me quite a few passes on this to finally understand what's going on. Let me help you out here. For hundreds of years, there has been a lot of pushing between the North American tectonic plate and the oceanic plate called Juan de Fuca (which, by the way, is ninety thousand square miles long. Yowzah.). By pushing and pushing and pushing for so long – neither side wanting to budge – the Pacific Northwest is being forced upward and compressing eastward. Of course, this movement is slow. Very slow. As in “three to four millimeters and thirty to forty millimeters a year” slow.

    After centuries of this scrum, North America will bounce back. Think of a spring recoiling. When that happens…the ground will not be as solid as you might like. This is when “the actual big one” will happen.

    Fortunately, there’s a long intermission between these monster quakes – 243 (ish) years, so the experts say. Unfortunately, we’re 72 years past the dimming of the lights and the raising of the curtain. In other words, this show is long overdue.

    By this point, we’ve all but forgotten the last time this happened. Now, we’re being urged to remember. The consequences of forgetting – or ignoring – this threat can (dare I say “will”?) be catastrophic.

    Japan earthquake and tsunami, 2011

    But that’s not all. When the curtains rise and the final act is played out (ie. the earthquake), there will most definitely be a curtain call - an epic encore performance, if you will - in the form of one of the largest tsunami’s you’ve never seen. It will be so big, in fact, that “it will look like the whole ocean, elevated, overtaking land.” When this brick wall of water hits land, it will transform into “a five-story deluge of pickup trucks and door frames and cinder blocks and fishing boats and utility poles and everything else that once constituted the coastal towns of the Pacific Northwest.”

    And yes, there will be casualties. FEMA predicts a death toll of about 13,000 people, with tens of thousands more injured. During the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, over 15,000 people were killed. And this is a country that is prone to earthquakes and have preventative measures and emergency alert systems in place.

    The Pacific North West is not nearly as prepared as Japan.

    Along the to-be effected area following the Cascadia quake, preparations are few and far between. Homes are not retrofitted, and advanced warning systems will most likely involve your dog barking up a storm. The worst part is, once the earth stops rumbling, you will only have about 15 minutes to get out. Anything – and anyone – left in the splash zone won’t be coming back.

    The implications of this earthquake and tsunami are huge. So huge, in fact, that I will examine the repercussions in my next post on Friday. So stay tuned. We’ve got a lot to talk about.


    Are you living near this area? What are you doing to prepare for “the really big one?”


    Related Articles:

    The Desolation of Cascadia...and How to Prepare: http://beprepared.com/blog/18627/desolation-cascadia/

    2 Things Japan Teaches Us About Disaster Preparation: http://beprepared.com/blog/17832/2-things-japan-teaches-us-disaster-preparation/

    From Nepal to Michigan - Earthquakes Happen Anywhere: http://beprepared.com/blog/18128/earthquakes-happen-anywhere/

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