Seismologists say out of all the Bay Area faults, the Rodgers Creek Fault has the highest probability of producing the Bay Area's next large earthquake.
Electricity, water, transportation, medical and other vital systems can be disrupted for several days. Emergency response agencies and hospitals will likely be overwhelmed and unable to provide you with immediate assistance. To help your family cope after a strong quake, store a household disaster kit in an easily accessible location, preferably outdoors (not in your garage). This kit should be in a large watertight container that can be easily moved and should hold supplies to get you through at least 72 hours.
Step one: look around your house to make sure potential hazards are secured.
- Hanging objects such as picture frames and mirrors should be fastened to the walls tightly, and some guides recommend closed hooks. Try to not hang anything heavy above beds or couches.
- Earthquake putty, museum was or quake gel are sturdy glues available at many retailers. Put a little under things that could shatter during an earthquake, like on pottery that may sit on a mantle or under lamps.
- Tall, top heavy shelving like bookcases and china cabinets can fall and injure you. Story heavy items on lower shelves and secure top corners of tall furniture into a wall stud, not just the drywall.
- Furniture can also be mounted to the walls with straps.
- Water and gas pipelines can rupture — have a professional evaluate and replace if necessary any worn or dangerous water and gas pipes. Most electricity and water companies do this assessment for free.
- Excess flow gas shutoff valves for individual appliances are also available to help reduce the flow of gas from leak.
- Make sure water heaters are anchored to wall studs, they can fall over and rupture existing connections.
- Make sure flammable and hazardous materials are stored low.
Step two: prepare disaster kits with:
- Drinking water — minimum one gallon per person per day.
- First aid supplies, medications, and essential hygiene items, such as soap, toothpaste and toilet paper.
- Emergency lighting—light sticks and (or) a working flashlight with extra batteries and light bulbs. Hand crank flashlights are also great in a disaster.
- A hand crank or battery operated radio and spare batteries.
- Canned and packaged foods and cooking utensils, including a manual can opener. Energy bars are great, they take up little space and last long.
- Items to protect you from the elements, such as warm clothing, sturdy shoes, extra socks, blankets and perhaps even a tent.
- Heavy-duty plastic bags for waste and to serve other uses, such as tarps and rain ponchos.
- Work gloves and protective goggles.
- A first aid kit, including emergency medications and important medical records.
- Pet food and supplies.
- Copies of vital documents, such as insurance policies and personal identification.
- Medications and medical consent forms for dependents.
- First aid kit and handbook.
- Spare eyeglasses and personal hygiene supplies.
- Emergency cash.
- List of emergency contact phone numbers.
- Comfort items, such as games, crayons, writing materials and teddy bears.
Emergency preparedness officials say it's also important to practice your earthquake drills, at least once a year. In teaching kids, simply ask them to drop, cover and hold on, and explain to them why it's important to know that. The Great California Shakeout is a national movement to practice earthquake drills — it can make doing the drill fun. The day is Oct. 20, at 10:20 a.m. Sign up at shakeout.org.
Many emergency preparedness items can be purchased on the American Red Cross’s website store, which is online at www.redcrossstore.org. For additional information, contact the Sonoma County Department of Fire and Emergency Services at 707-565-1152, or the American Red Cross, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake County office at 707-577-7600.
Information for this guide was compiled from the Sonoma County Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the U.S. Geological Survey and American Red Cross.
Editor's note: This is the last of a five-part series. Find out how prepared Rohnert Park is as a city . about how Rohnert Park could be impacted by a major earthquake here. Also, find out if your to the next big one here. Did you know the USGS has an incredible stock of photos of past earthquakes for public use? .