Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shakeup call

As SoCal earthquakes go, yesterday's magnitude 5.4 temblor was something of a yawner.

Swimming pools churned for a few seconds. Some stores' shelves emptied themselves. Water gushed from a couple of broken L.A. mains and from a ceiling at LAX. Reportedly, there were few injuries.

Ok, so it was the strongest quake in 15 years, and 80-plus aftershocks (most of which are noticed only by seismologists) might be a bit unsettling. Judging by the media's breathless coverage, however, you'd think it was The Big One.

Maybe they're just practicing.

Beyond natural human compassion and understandable political wariness, most of us don't really care what happens "out there" in the People's Republic of California. Earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides, competitive rehab, puzzling legislation and restrictive regulations -- it's just more TV. Self-absorbed Californians might want us to care, but for the most part, we're not even curious.

I know I'm not.

One things I do care about is personal preparedness
. On that subject, the media's over-the-top coverage of the Chino Hills quake did yield an interesting nugget, in the form of a "Quick Vote":

According to that unscientific snapshot, fewer than one out of four respondents is prepared for the worst. I'd be willing to bet that a statistically sound sampling would show that the real number is no higher than 10%, probably lower.

If you've prepared, as my family and I have, great -- but contentment is the last thing we should be feeling right now. Answering the wake-up call implicit in the poll above, or in my more pessimistic prediction, we'll see that virtually all of our neighbors will do one of four things in the event of a disaster:

  • They'll suffer alone, unaided and unprepared;
  • They'll rely on non-profit or government agencies;
  • They'll try to share in what we have; or
  • They'll try to take what we have.
Stockpiling food, water and supplies isn't enough. We must be ready and willing to protect and, if necessary, defend ourselves and our families from those who haven't prepared.

With that harsh reality in mind, answer the question again: Are you prepared?