Sunday, September 14, 2008


I thought I was earthquake prepared until the “Big One” hit the other night—a 4.0 centered in Alamo. Talk about a wake-up call—I had dozed off reading in bed around 9:00 pm when the first warning came. It took me a second to realize that the rolling bed was not a result of a cat leaping up on our waterbed—we didn’t have a waterbed any more.

My first reaction was to just lie there, frozen to the spot, and wait for the roof to cave in. Seconds later came the big loud BOOM that finally shook me out of my stupor. Frantically trying to remember the latest recommendations for what to do in an earthquake—stand under a doorjamb, run outside, find the “Triangle of Life”—I panicked and rolled off the bed.

My husband, who surfed the whole thing from his permanent place on the couch, spotted me from the window and came to see why I was lying on the floor.

“Did the earthquake knock you off the bed?”

I looked up at him. “No, I rolled off on purpose. I was planning to roll under the bed.”

“Did you forget that the bed is on a pedestal?” he asked. “There is no ‘under the bed.’ Maybe you were thinking of ‘tuck and roll’ instead of ‘duck and cover.’”

I hate when me mocks me with references to car upholstery and A-bomb responses.

“I know that now!” I said, as he hoisted me up.

“Besides,” he continued, stifling a laugh, “all that’s going to do is squish you even more if the roof caves in. Which it’s not. That’s why we have building codes.”

“So I should have gone for the door jamb?”

“Nope. If the roof caved in, the doorjamb would snap like a twig. Doorjambs are for securing doors, not saving lives in earthquakes.”

“What about the ‘Triangle of Life’—that space supposedly created between, say, the bed and the fallen roof?”

“Urban legend. Disproved by the American Red Cross.”

“Then what should I have done? Lie on the couch and watch TV like you?”

“Next time, run outside.”

Seemed logical, now that the temblor was over. In fact, that’s exactly what my three cats did. (“Save yourselves!”) I scanned the room for the closest exit. It was two feet away. If I had kept rolling, I could have rolled on outside.

Determined to be prepared for the next Big One, I searched the Internet for the latest information. Apparently I was close with “Duck and Cover”—finally all that A-Bomb training would pay off. Only the new version is called “Drop, Cover, and Hold on!”

The theory is, if the Big One hits, you may not even have time to run outside and will probably be knocked to the ground (ie. “rolled off the bed?”), so find something like a table to get under that will protect you from falling debris (ie. “roofs?”).

It’s also recommended that if you’re in bed, instead of rolling off, just cover your head with a pillow. But I plan to buy a bunch of tables and place them in every room—just in case.


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