My six steps for taming any earthquake



For reasons I shall never figure out, there are many people who have chosen to live in “seismologically active” regions of the planet. (That’s what experts call earthquakes, to avoid scaring little children into thinking their pumpkin patch is going to gobble them up.)  So, it is extremely vital, if, for example, you happen to be a New Yorker moving to California, that you choose a spot that will always stay pretty much where you originally found it.


One surefire way to do this is by visiting homes in various California neighborhoods. My rough rule of thumb is that if your neighbor’s living room and kitchen are divided by a ravine, you may wish to look across town.


For those of you who have already purchased a property and have discovered too late that major appliances move about the house at will because of quake activity, there’s no need to panic and move yourself into an abandoned boat. I have spent a great deal of time in quake zones.  And I have developed a helpful six step system, which makes it possible to scoff at any earthquake, even host a dinner dance right inside its epicenter.


My helpful six step system:


  1. Identify potential hazards in your home and fix them promptly.  For example, move a heavy bookcase packed with books to a safer place. Placing it in the pool, for instance, will go a long way toward safeguarding your guests, and it can be an interesting way to introduce the children to Albert Camus.


  1. Create a disaster plan. Demonstrate to your guests when they arrive how to zig-zag out of the house during a tremor. Be sure you know where it is you are zig-zagging to.  Zig-zagging without knowing where you are going will only wear you out and make you dizzy. And then you will forget why you were zig-zagging in the first place and wind up in Utah.


  1. Make sure that each guest has a place to drop down to for cover.  If an entire table of twelve, along with the orchestra leader and his brass section, try to fit under the dining room table, there will be bad feelings. 


  1. Never let any family member under the age of five care for the injured.


  1. As the host, conduct a short educational discussion about earthquake science – the effects of P-waves, understanding local geological strata, etc. Alternatively, just hand out crash helmets.


  1. Be sure everyone upon arrival has access to a bottle of gin, preferably in sturdy shoulder holsters, and preferably in break-proof bottles.


The important thing to remember is that there’s no need to panic at the first sign of a tremor. If, on the other hand, you suddenly find yourself in the basement when you thought you were having cocktails on the veranda, tell everyone to start screaming and make a lot of noise. Someone may be trying to find you under the rubble.