Issue 139 - September 2023
Expediting Response to Earthquakes
Every city, county, and public agency in California should be prepared to respond to an earthquake. The Great California ShakeOut event is held each year on the third Thursday of October. This year’s ShakeOut, October 19, is an appropriate time to review your agency’s earthquake preparedness plan and to schedule a drill to practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Additionally, it’s an opportune time for the Authority to share information about the Safehub resource.
The California JPIA is working with San Francisco-based Safehub to provide real-time building-specific damage information to members. Safehub sensors have already been deployed to 65 Authority member agencies. We are currently rolling out the third installment of the program to 12 members. The Authority fully funds the program, and there are no direct costs to members.
Safehub employs a combination of sensors, analytics, and third-party data to provide structural damage information within minutes following an earthquake. The easy-to-install sensors measure earthquake ground motion, building response, and changes in building natural frequencies, which can indicate damage. Sensors are about the size of a mobile phone and have a battery backup. For most buildings, the unit is installed on the ground floor next to an outlet and generally out of the way. Sensors are simple to install and plug in and come with an easy-to-follow installation manual. They use very little power and do not require connection to your agency’s network or Wi-Fi as they are connected to the cloud through a cellular network. The sensors have a three-to-five-year life expectancy and are monitored by Safehub 24/7 to ensure they work correctly.
Safehub’s platform analyzes the data and deploys actionable information through a web-based dashboard, text messages, and email alerts. For example, following a 4.5 earthquake, the text may read, “No damage expected.” The information generated is used to estimate damage to individual buildings and portfolios. The results are fewer false positives and negatives, allowing communities to continue providing services when needed most.
Alerts and information presented on Safehub’s dashboard can help prioritize emergency response, assist building inspectors and engineers, help with claim filing, and assist with activating business continuity plans and resilience efforts. In addition, the Safehub technology features a simulation mode for training and drill purposes.
Never before have communities had this level of information at their fingertips, allowing them to assess damage resulting from catastrophic events quickly. This cost-effective solution is easy to install across an entire portfolio of buildings and dramatically reduces the risk from seismic events.
To learn more about Safehub, visit www.safehub.io.
Drop, Cover, and Hold On
When an earthquake strikes, the following procedures are recommended to reduce your chance of injury:
DROP where you are onto your hands and knees.
COVER your head and neck.
If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter.
If a furniture item is unavailable, crawl next to an interior wall away from windows, stay on your knees, and cover your head and neck.
HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
If you are under a table or desk, hold on to a furniture leg with one hand and use your other arm to cover your head and neck.
If you are next to an interior wall, stay on your knees and use both arms and hands to protect your head and neck.
This is also the time to review and evaluate work areas to confirm that bookcases and cabinets are secured to walls, items stored on top of cabinets are removed and stored correctly, and chemicals are stored in secured cabinets. Additionally, check your earthquake supplies. Discard expired items, replace them accordingly, and confirm that staff knows the location(s) of the earthquake supplies.
After the drill, update your emergency preparedness plan and procedures based on lessons learned from the ShakeOut exercise. Review the updated plans and procedures with all staff.
Practice, practice, practice! Practicing reinforces the behavior. You will be more likely to react quickly when the shaking begins if you regularly practice protecting yourself. Although California holds an annual Great ShakeOut event, practicing drills throughout the year is beneficial to reinforce responsive and safe behavior in an emergency.
Resources:< Back to Full Issue Print Article