April 18th is the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest natural disasters in American history: the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The shaking started at 5:12 AM and was felt as far away as Los Angeles, Oregon and central Nevada. It lasted barely a minute but killed approximately 900 people.
But worst was to come. The quake sparked fires that raged for three days, gutting the entire downtown and killing between 3,000 and 5,000. The loss of 30,000 buildings left much of the city’s population homeless. And for some, the suffering was just beginning. In the aftermath of the disaster, looting broke out. Posses were formed to stop it. The inevitable result was the summary execution of many innocent residents wandering the streets because they had no place else to go. Today is the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest natural disasters in American history: the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The shaking started at 5:12 AM and was felt as far away as Los Angeles, Oregon and central Nevada. It lasted barely a minute but killed approximately 900 people.
On the positive side, the disaster led to the development of modern seismic science. Although individual earthquakes remain impossible to predict, thanks to the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, we now have a better understanding of why they happen and what we can do to make them less devastating. We can only hope that modern disasters like Hurricane Katrina produce similar legacies.
The interesting history lesson aside, hopefully this reminds you that earthquake training is something that should be done regularly. Even if you live or work in an area considered low risk it’s likely you or your co-workers travel to destinations that have a higher level of risk.
A few things you can do to prepare your workplace or home in the event of an earthquake:
- Ensure large appliances, machinery, equipment, and furniture are secured – this will help prevent them from falling and injuring or killing someone
- Review structures – before making any structural changes to your home or workplace check with your local building officials to be sure what you’re doing complies with local building codes
- Train everyone on the proper procedures – do you have a plan?
Taking the time to make sure you and workers are prepared can mean the difference between life and death – thankfully, there have been some incredible advances in science and detection of earthquakes since that fateful day in 1906 but earthquakes still happen, and we all need to be prepared.