HomeCity NewsSan Marino Fire Chief Urges Emergency Preparedness

San Marino Fire Chief Urges Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is a top priority of the San Marino City Council. The magnitude 7.4 earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, on April 2 reminds us how much damage a natural disaster can cause and reinforce our need to be ready for the earthquake that we know will hit Southern California.

One of the best ways to prepare is to attend the San Marino Fire Department’s Spring Emergency Preparedness Workshop on Thursday, April 25, at 6 p.m. at Fire Station 91. All are welcome.

Fortunately, the quake in Taiwan, which killed nine and injured more than 1,000, was centered off the coast, near a rural area. Just over 93 miles away in Taipei, the island’s capital, tiles fell from older buildings, and schools evacuated their students as they covered themselves with textbooks to guard against falling objects as aftershocks continued.

Southern California sits on some of the most unstable ground in the country. Some 10 million people work and live above the 200-plus known earthquake faults throughout the region. Earthquake faults are a result of tectonic plates pushing together, 6 to 15 miles beneath the earth’s surface. The region experiences more than 200,000 earthquakes every decade. Fortunately, most are too small to be felt.

Notable exceptions are the Sylmar earthquake on Feb. 9, 1971; the Whittier earthquake on Oct. 1, 1987; and the Northridge earthquake on Jan. 17, 1994. Seismologists predict 31% probability of a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Los Angeles. Because of those predictions, the city of San Marino remains on constant alert to seismic activity.

To date, the city has conducted several earthquake drills with the Fire and Police Departments, city executives and staff. Those drills included activation of the Emergency Operations Center with the city manager and all department executives, the San Marino Unified School District, and the Los Angeles County Disaster Management Area C representative.

Additionally, the city maintains several emergency communication capabilities including NIXLE, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration Integrated Public Alert & Warning System. These alert and warning systems provide the means for the community to be notified and provided with emergency information during disasters.


The following information is excerpted from the FEMA Earthquake Safety Checklist and outlines family preparedness suggestions. The San Marino Fire Department recommends residents prepare for at least 72 hours and preferably two weeks to be on their own following an earthquake.

Have food on hand. Stock foods that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation. You may already have many of these on hand.

Include foods for infants and those with special dietary needs.

Have kitchen accessories and cooking utensils; especially a manual can opener.

Keep flashlights and spare batteries at the ready.

Keep a flashlight beside your bed, at your place of work and in your car. Do not use matches or candles after an earthquake until you are certain that no gas leaks exist. Use a windup powered generator to have unlimited emergency power.

Store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day and be prepared for at least a 72-hour period. A normally active person needs at least a one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking.

Residents need to know how to:

• Handle a power outage

• Shut off water and utilities

• Dial 911

• Perform first aid and CPR

• Use a fire extinguisher

Residents who are away from home during an emergency need to ensure the safety of their family. They should listen to the radio to receive possible citywide reporting instructions.


Each go bag must be portable, such as a backpack, and include the following items:

• Water (for everyone in the household for at least 72 hours)

• Non-perishable food (for everyone in household for at least 72 hours)

• Games and books for children

• Copies of personal documents

• Battery-operated or hand-crank radio

• Flashlights and flameless candles

• Extra batteries

• Medicine

• First aid kit

• Change of clothes for members of the family

• Blankets

• Emergency whistle

• Hand sanitizer and personal hygiene items

• Plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place

• Cash

Finally, federal, state and local emergency management experts as well as other official preparedness organizations all agree that “Drop, Cover and Hold On” is the appropriate individual actions to reduce injury and death during earthquakes.

During any emergency, listen to the radio and television to receive any Los Angeles County emergency alert information.

Residents’ safety is top priority for the city of San Marino and city staff are constantly training to help protect you.

First published in the April 11 issue of the San Marino Tribune


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