Earthquakes Rattle Texas – Don’t Let Preparedness Slip Through The Cracks

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1 :100. This is a ratio representing earthquakes. Not just any number of earthquakes, but the number to hit North Texas in recent years. Prior to 2008, there had been only one to hit an area called the Fort Worth Basin. After 2008, however, more than 100 have hit the area. Of those 100, 25 have shaken the region since October 2014.

Last week, nine earthquakes rattled North Texas in less than 24 hours (12 in 3TX earthquakes0 hours). Below is a timeline beginning on Tuesday, January 6, 2015:

  • 7:37 a.m. – Magnitude 2.3
  • 3:10 p.m. – Magnitude 3.5
  • 6:52 p.m. – Magnitude 3.6
  • 8:11 p.m. – Magnitude 2.9
  • 8:12 p.m. – Magnitude 2.7
  • 9:54 p.m. – Magnitude 1.7
  • 10:05 p.m. – Magnitude 2.4
  • 11:02 p.m. – Magnitude 1.6
  • 12:59 a.m. – Magnitude 3.1
  • 8:64 a.m. – Magnitude 2.6
  • 9:57 a.m. – Magnitude 2.7
  • 1:24 p.m. – Magnitude 2.3

With the exception of the sixth earthquake at 9:54 p.m., all were centered in Irving, TX, a suburb of Dallas. Scientists at Southern Methodist University reported these were some of the strongest earthquakes to hit North Texas in history.

Although a few of the quakes were strong enough to wake those sleeping, break windows and dishes, and overturn objects, no injuries or serious damages were reported.

This was not the case for California’s Napa Valley in August. As previously discussed, the 6.0 earthquake injured more than 200 people and caused damage to dozens of buildings. California Governor, Edmund Brown, declared a state of emergency after 69,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers were without power.

Be Prepared

The Firestorm book, Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America highlights precautionary measures for every type of crisis, including an earthquake. Chapter 7 discussess evacuation situations.

Evacuation simply means leaving where you are in an orderly fashion. In a disaster there are two basic types of evacuation:

  1. You need to leave your home, workplace, etc. but stay in the immediate area/community.
  2. You need to leave your home, workplace, etc. and are required to leave your area/community.

Either evacuation situation can occur with substantial warning (an oncoming storm or hurricane) or with no prior warning at all (an earthquake, explosion or tornado). The best way to prepare for any evacuation scenario is to assume you’ll have little to no advance warning. While you have the luxury of time, build your evacuation kit so you can grab it on your way out the door.

Prepare for a crisis by:the book

  1. Assembling an evacuation kit
  2. Gathering important documents
  3. Testing your evacuation kit

Read more about preparing for a crisis at home by downloading the free ebook here.

How do you prepare your business for an earthquake?

FEMA provides business owners with tips:

Unlike hurricanes and some other natural hazards, earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. Nevertheless, if the business that you own or work for is located in a region at risk for earthquakes (visit Your Earthquake Risk), there are many things that can be done to reduce the chances that those who work in or visit the premises will be injured, that property there will be damaged, or that your day-to-day operations will be unduly disrupted by an earthquake. These activities all fall under the concept of preparedness, because to be effective, they must be done before earthquakes occur.

Preparing for earthquakes involves (1) learning what employers and employees should do before, during, and after earthquakes; and (2) doing or preparing to do those things now, before the next quake. Workplace preparedness requires the participation of owners, managers, and workers, as well as those who design, build, regulate, and maintain buildings used as workplaces.

Before the Next Earthquake

The following are activities that can be undertaken now:

Prepare Your Facilities

Make your buildings safer to be in during earthquakes and more resistant to earthquake damage and disruption. Depending on when and how they were designed, built and furnished, existing buildings may have weaknesses that make them more vulnerable to earthquakes.

Check with your local building-regulatory agency to find out whether, and for how long, structures in your area have been subject to building codes containing seismic design provisions. Facilities constructed before adequate provisions came into effect may have structural vulnerabilities.

It is also important to know whether and for how long local seismic code provisions have addressed nonstructural building components. Nonstructural items include utility systems and architectural elements (e.g., light fixtures, suspended ceilings, windows, partitions), as well as furnishings, supplies, inventory, equipment, and other building contents.

Nonstructural seismic weaknesses can be as or more dangerous, costly, and disruptive as structural vulnerabilities. Any nonstructural items that are not effectively anchored, braced, reinforced or otherwise secured could become safety hazards or property losses in an earthquake. Design and construction professionals are needed to properly secure some of these components, while others can be made safe by maintenance staff or other employees.

Earthquake risk-reduction measures can range from inexpensive methods of securing building contents to expensive structural modifications. The mix of measures that is optimal for your facilities will depend on factors such as the potential severity of the earthquake hazards in your locale, the current condition of your facilities, whether your workplace is owned or leased, and how vulnerable your operations are to facility damage and associated downtime. Visit QuakeSmart for information about how to assess your facility risks and how to develop and implement a plan to cost-effectively mitigate those risks.

Prepare Your Workforce to:

React Safely

Every employee, from top managers to part-time and temporary workers, needs to learn What to do during an earthquake. Safety orientations should emphasize safe places to “drop, cover and hold on” during earthquake shaking and safe locations where people can rendezvous when the shaking has stopped and it is safe and advisable to evacuate your facilities.

Hold periodic, mandatory earthquake drills to give employees opportunities to practice what they have learned and condition themselves to react spontaneously and safely when the first jolt or shaking is felt. To help protect workers in the immediate aftermath of earthquakes or other disasters, arrange for employees to be trained now in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of fire extinguishers. Earthquakes should be thoroughly integrated into the organization’s emergency preparedness, response, and recovery planning.

Help the Organization Survive a Damaging Earthquake

Elements that are critical to ongoing business viability vary from one organization to another. They may include, for example, locations, equipment, telecommunications, supply chains, stored data, or employee knowledge or skills. A prepared workforce is one that has identified the elements that are important to its operations; made plans for protecting, reconstructing, duplicating, or surviving without these elements; and been adequately trained to carry out these plans in the event of an earthquake or other contingency. Visit Ready Business for more information on business-continuity and contingency planning.

In the days following an earthquake, employees are more likely to be able to come to work and perform effectively if they are less worried about or preoccupied with their families and homes. They should be encouraged to prepare their homes and families in advance for earthquakes and other emergencies (see Earthquake Safety at Home).

Prepare Your Community

It makes good business sense for employers to contribute to the well-being of the communities from which they recruit employees, clients, and customers. There are many ways that businesses, acting either individually or collectively through organizations such as local chambers of commerce, can help strengthen the disaster resilience of their communities. Some of these ways include serving as local exemplars of organizational preparedness; promoting preparedness among suppliers, clients, and other business contacts; and sponsoring or participating in local earthquake drills, preparedness events, or awareness and education campaigns. Visit QuakeSmart for more ideas.

During the Next Earthquake

When earthquake shaking begins, it is time for employees to immediately apply what they have learned about What to Do During an Earthquake. Reacting promptly and safely reduces your chances of being injured.

After the Next Earthquake

Once the shaking stops, workplaces should be prepared to implement prearranged, earthquake-specific emergency response and recovery plans. Employees must keep in mind that aftershocks may strike at any time, exacerbating hazards created by earlier shaking and requiring that everyone again drop, cover, and hold on.

Regardless of the severity of this earthquake, learn from the experience. If there are things that your organization could have done better in preparing for this quake, do them better now in preparation for the next earthquake. If structures must be repaired or rebuilt, for example, use this opportunity to ensure that weaknesses are addressed and that new facilities are compliant with seismic building standards. If building contents were damaged, improve how such items are secured. If employees were insufficiently prepared to react safely, increase safety training and the frequency of drills.

Conduct a Risk Assessment for Your Business

Every company should assess its level of preparedness on a regular basis. For businesses planning to obtain PS-Prep certification, the time to make adjustments to your business continuity program is now. Failing to acquire PS-Prep certification may place you at a disadvantage against your competitors. By taking advantage of this window to prepare, your organization will be ready to certify—and gain a recognized competitive advantage.

That’s where the Firestorm Self-Assessment process comes in. We have developed proprietary software and use a quick, cost-efficient approach that provides an in-depth evaluation of your organization’s readiness.

No Formal Program?

Get Started. The Firestorm Self-Assessment is one of many tools we offer to make sure you adopt a business continuity program specific to your needs – quickly, cost-effectively and in compliance with best practices and standards.

Program in Place?

Great! Verify that your program meets best practices and standards. Discover the gaps in your program before the damage is done. The Firestorm Self-Assessment can diagnose strengths and weaknesses in your program, and recommend the most cost-effective measures to ensure your company has a culture of preparedness.

Curious About PS Prep?

Work with Firestorm, experts in PS-Prep certification for 2015 and beyond. Our Self-Assessment measures your program against current PS-Prep standards. With Firestorm, you can align your program for certification and meet your company’s unique needs.

Contact us and mention this article to waive the $2500 Assessment fee!

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