University is prepared for earthquakes, experts say
Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:48 pm in News
A recent spate of earthquakes has raised some concerns among students about the universityâs preparedness as well as if a bigger quake might be on its way. Even with experts predicting a big earthquake to hit Southern California soon, the university is prepared, according to Steve Goldfarb, USCâs fire safety and emergency planning specialist.
Earlier this month, a tremor was felt across Los Angeles County after an earthquake rattled Beverly Hills at 12:03 a.m. The relatively minor magnitude-3.5 earthquake was the areaâs second of that week, following one of magnitude 3.2 at the start of the week.
In accordance with USC protocol, the Dept. of Public Safety was quick to survey the campus and immediately identify any damage and injuries, Goldfarb said. Goldfarb said DPS reported no injuries or damages as a result of the earthquakes.
Some students, like Sara Worth, a sophomore majoring in political sciences, said they wereÂ not fazed by the earthquakes.
âI was sitting at my desk when I felt a small tremor. I wasnât entirely sure if it was even an earthquake,â Worth said.
Though some students said they did not feel the earthquakes, others, like Rachel Weber, a sophomore majoring in theater, said the quake was worrying.
âBeing originally from the East Coast, even small earthquakes do seem pretty scary,â Weber said. âItâs important that every student know how to best deal with emergencies.â
Earthquakes are commonplace in Southern California since the region lies upon the San Andreas Fault, which separates the area from the rest of the continental United States. The last major rupture on the San Andreas dealt a devastating blow to the city of San Francisco in 1906. For decades, experts have anticipated a volatile earthquake hitting California, which many have dubbed the âbig one.â
Though some experts said the Beverly Hills tremors are not predictive of the âbig one,â they said an earthquake is likely to rattle the state soon.
âCalifornia is very overdue for a Southern San Andreas earthquake,â said Mark Benthien, director for communication, education and outreach at the Southern California Earthquake Center, based at USC. âIf you consider that earthquakes in the past happen every 150-200 years, and itâs been now over 320 years since the last big earthquake … scientists are concerned.â
Worth said that in light of recent tremors, it would be worthwhile for the university to promote its safety protocol.
âIt would be helpful for [USC] to provide information on how to stay safe during emergencies, especially with the prediction of a large earthquake,â Worth said.
Goldfarb said USC has an award-winning Emergency Response Plan, which includes a comprehensive system of steps to follow in the event of a large quake. In the case of an earthquake, Goldfarb suggests that students find cover under a table or desk or drop and cover by an interior wall.
âDonât run,â Goldfarb said. âMost injuries occur from falling debris, so take cover wherever you are.â
Benthien said Los Angeles is one of the most prepared areas in the world for earthquakes. Still, he said he believes there can always be room for improvement.
âThere are always aspects that we are not prepared for, because we canât have every building perfectly earthquake resistant, and we donât have the resources to respond instantly to every situation involving injuries,â Benthien said. âWe can always do more to be better prepared.â
SCampus, USCâs student handbook, recommends that all students familiarize themselves with the emergency procedures of their residences and prepare an emergency kit. Guidelines as to what an emergency kit should contain can be accessed at the SCampus website. Additionally, at the start of the school year, the university posted a video on YouTube outlining its emergency procedures.
Goldfarb also said USCâs annual involvement with the Great California Shakeout is an important part of its preparations. This yearâs shakeout, which simulates a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, will be held on Oct. 18 at 10:18 a.m. Students, staff and faculty will be asked to âdrop, cover and holdâ to simulate the tremor. USC has participated in the drill every October since the Shakeout began in 2008, Goldfarb said.
Students can register to participate in the drill on the Great California Shakeoutâs website.