Ten Tips for Surviving an Earthquake…..
March 11, 2011

Today's earthquake in Japan....

Living on the east coast, we are, for the most part, blissfully earthquake free…execpt for a little rumble now and then. The only “real” earthquake I’ve experienced was in 1987, in southern California…called the Whittier earthquake.

building collapse in 1987 Whittier earthquake

I was part of a week long Evening Magazine shoot there…we were staying on the fifth floor of the famous Biltmore Hotel…the time 7:42 am. I was  on the floor, exercising in my room, when a rumble started. At first it felt like a big air conditioner had come to life in the room underneath mine. the rumble got worse, and then the building started to pop and sway. My next thought was …explosion? I ran to the window but everything outside was perfectly normal, and it hit me…earthquake.

another building collapse -Whittier earthquake

I opened the door to my room and stuck my head out…as did several other heads….and then realizing I could use a little more clothing on…went back for a robe(wise move). After standing under the door frame for a minute, another woman whom I’d never seen before, grabbed my hand and we ran down the stairs and out into the street, along with tons of other people. We were all directed to a park up the street, away from glass windows that might pop and break. Honestly, it was one of the most frightening things I’ve ever experienced(though more seasoned earthquakers were pretty unfazed).

Yikes.....not good....Whittier earthquake 1987

It was a serious quake though…5.9…which gives me a clue as to how wrenching the Japan quake today was. Some 8 people died because of it, directly and indirectly….a parking deck collapsed on top of one woman, another man was buried by a landslide, and hundreds were injured.

And I’ve since learned I did lots of things wrong(going to the window, standing under the door frame, going down the stairs)…or at least things that did not enhance my best chance of escaping injury or death….but here is a link to a wonderful article-here- written by  Doug Copp, Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International. He has ten tips for earthquake safety…read and learn…like me, you never know when you might be somewhere and the knowledge will come in handy.

But I’ve never smelled fear before that day….when I went back to my room after we were allowed back in the hotel(yes, I had been hanging out in the park in my robe)….the robe had the oddest scent on it. Not like a perspiration smell….it’s hard to describe, and I have never smelled it since. Thank God.

Thoughts and prayers to all the people in Japan…..and with that in mind, hug your family this weekend,  don’t throw rocks, and come home safe…’cause we miss you.