When to prepare
Record rains. Historic flooding. Destructive tornadoes. Over a million homes and businesses without power.
That's just from Hurricane Ida.
We knew about the storm days in advance. We knew it was coming and projected to head to the coast. They knew about 2 days before making landfall that Ida was expected to be a major hurricane.
Earthquakes don't (usually) give much of a warning. If you're really lucky some foreshocks might give you a day or more warning. The problem is foreshocks don't come with a label telling you they're foreshocks. We don't know an earthquake is a foreshock until a bigger one strikes a short time (usually within days) later.
The best warning you can get, and in the United States it's really only available in California, is from a seismic monitoring system that detects P and S waves of an earthquake. The P waves come first and aren't the damaging ones. When the system detects these it can send out a warning, usually via text or some messaging system.
If you're paying attention, and you're lucky, you might get 60 seconds to get to a safe position before the earthquake strikes.
There's not much you can do in 60 seconds. And you probably have a lot less time
But it's enough time to get take care of some things. If you're cooking you can turn off the stove. You can find the kids and help them get into a safe place.
And, unlike a hurricane, you won't know how big and damaging (or not) the earthquake will be until it's done.
When a hurricane is coming, you can be certain of it. You may not know where it will exactly hit or how bad it'll be, but you're certain it's about to hit.
I don't know what the percentage of people who are hurricane prepared is, but I'd guess it's bigger than those who are prepared for an earthquake. And here's the scary part. A high percentage of those who say they are prepared are only minimally prepared.
When the news and officials start blaring the hurricane warning it's like the preparedness mating call. Suddenly people are out rushing to get supplies, to get ready, so they can be certain (or at least feel certain) about surviving the impending storm.
That doesn't happen with earthquakes. The only real uptick in getting prepared for an earthquake is if there's a big earthquake that strikes somewhere else and it reminds people in other areas that they need to get prepared.
But that preparedness thought and action is quickly overshadowed because the threat of an earthquake isn't as real. There's no real certainty that an earthquake will strike in your area (unlike a hurricane warning) so it's easy for other cares to grab our attention and energy.
That uncertainty is a big reason so many people aren't prepared for an earthquake.
The best time to be prepared was anytime before now. The second best time to get prepared is now.
But don't stress with the thought of needing to get all prepared immediately.
Yes, as soon as you can there are certain preparations you must do. I'll cover what I believe to be the minimum you should start doing today, this week, over the next month, two months, three months, six months, year, and beyond.
Here's the caveat. Being prepared is not a "Set it and forget" activity. It involves regular, consistent efforts and awareness.
But the good news is you can be prepared without being a "prepper."
And being prepared brings a peace and certainty into your life.