No administrative policy will save a city population and infrastructure from harm during a high impact earthquake. However, a thoughtful, organized approach will help to mitigate overall destruction and save lives. Putting resilience in place will hasten the recovery.
These three steps will help:
Step One- Awareness. It is still surprising how many people doubt that an earthquake will impact their lives. There is an incredible body of scholarship on earthquakes. Universities have many professors studying the impact of earthquakes on our planet. Our ability to understand their components is allowing us to reduce their catastrophic impacts. If you live in a place prone to earthquakes you need to accept that #TheBigOne is coming and take the necessary precautions.
Once you accept this scientific fact your entire approach will change. You will hold governments more accountable; learn techniques to avoid peril (drop, cover and hold on) and adopt remedies to make structures and equipment earthquake-safer. For those of us who that live in the Pacific Northwest, it is worth reading Kathyrn Schulz' 2015 article in The New Yorker "The Really Big One". She lays out well the science behind the inevitability of the Big One.
Step Two-Communications. Ideally, every community would have an #EarlyWarningSystem in place that would cover both a) Big Ones that occur on the ocean floor and b) for localized so-called crustal earthquakes that tend to release less energy but, because they are close to the surface, create more damage.
Earthquakes can be predicted by recording the first tremors or P-waves. These are compression waves that feel like a freight train is running through your house. Using a predictive algorithm, the amount of time to the arrival of the terrible S-Wave can be predicted. There are many variables and complete accuracy will never be possible. Still. governments are getting closer every day to setting up reliable early warning systems for earthquakes that look like the same systems used for tornadoes and hurricanes.
Step 3 - Preparedness This is the most important step and can be divided into many subcategories:
a) Training and Drills- Almost every community and level of government needs to continually practice its response to an earthquake and ensure that it has the required manpower and resources.
b) Take Preventative Action- Seismic upgrades to buildings and equipment and utility shut-off mechanisms could go a long way to mitigating the loss of property life-threatening hazards.
c) Earthquake Kits- Ideas vary on what you should have around your home and workplace vary, but some things are a good idea: Cash, water, non-perishable food, chainsaw, crowbar are some good things to consider. Where you live will make a difference.
d) Plan B-My advice is that you try to have a plan b no matter what -somewhere else you can live that isn't too far from the earthquake zone. Ask ahead and make a pact with a friend or family member. If they are forced out of their home by a forest fire or flood they can stay with you and vice-versa. There is obviously a lot more to this kind of planning but it wouldn't hurt to call Uncle Sam and work it out ahead of time.
e) Insurance- You need #earthquakeinsurance
by Diarmuid D. O'Dea