Don’t shake off earthquake preparedness

Connie Morales

Natural disasters can occur anywhere in the world, at any time, and living in California means always being ready for one of the most spontaneous of these disasters: earthquakes. 

During the last week of September, an alert from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services notified the public that scientists had predicted a large-scale earthquake due to recent activity at the Salton Sea near the San Andreas Fault line. 

This warning caused people throughout Los Angeles County to set up an emergency plan in the case of such an event — but exactly how prepared is Whittier College?

An email was sent out to all students on Oct. 3 to advise them on the safest ways to handle an earthquake of high magnitude. In the list of protocols, the first thing to do is to keep calm so that you and all others around you remain safe. 

The email also stated that if you are located indoors, try to find a table or doorway to stay under until the shaking subsides. When you find yourself outdoors during such an event, move to an open area away from all potential hazards such as falling buildings or power lines, if possible. If you are driving, pull over to the safest open space available and remain in your car. 

Safety and Compliance Coordinator Magaly Perez recommends watching videos that teach students how to construct an emergency kit with necessary supplies for a natural disaster. Beneficial supplies include a first-aid kit, medication, money, extra clothes and shoes, water, a flashlight, batteries, and other useful items collected in a backpack in case of emergencies. The Red Cross sells many kinds of first-aid and emergency kits on their website 

While the Department of Campus Safety has been making efforts to ensure that everyone is aware of the safety protocols, some students feel that there is more work to be done. 

Sophomore Samuel Landa hopes that Campus Safety can help better educate students on such safety procedures. “Preventive measures can be taken to secure [student safety] by having public awareness meetings which illustrate the proper way to evacuate buildings,” Landa said. 

For California residents who have lived here most of their lives, earthquakes are not out of the ordinary. However, for out-of-state students, this type of natural disaster may be startling. Texas-native first-year Maddie Hendrickson believes that having a list of safe places on the Whittier College campus in the event of an earthquake would be beneficial to her as well as other non-California residents. 

Senior Jessica Acosta agrees that Whittier could strengthen its student support system. “Sure, high schools here have drills and we are well versed in what we do, but that doesn’t account for people who are [from] out of state,” Acosta said. “There’s never such a thing as too prepared.”

Students, staff and faculty will be able to practice protocol for an emergency situation during the Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill, which will be taking place on Oct. 20 at 10:20 a.m. This event is held in participating states and countries worldwide and Whittier College will be holding another campus-specific drill in the Spring. The date has not yet beendetermined.

To go over these safety procedures mentioned in this article and for more information, contact Campus Safety at (562) 907-4211.