New Times: How should San Luis Obispo County residents prepare for an earthquake?
Hildebrandt: People need to realize that an earthquake can happen at any time. But the basic personal preparedness is to have an emergency supply kit. Bolting down heavy bookcases and furniture is important. But the key thing is to have a plan on what to do after an earthquake. People, families, should have a contact out of the area who they can call because if something happens and they can’t get a hold of each other, they should call “aunt Jane in Illinois,” and she’s going act as their message center. So it’s a plan on how you’re going to reunite the family and where to go from there. They should visit the American Red Cross Web site for help.
New Times: What should people do during an earthquake, indoors and outside?
Hildebrandt: If they’re inside, they should take cover under a sturdy table or against a hallway wall where there is not a lot of glass. If they are outside, they should stay clear of power lines and move to an open area and get down and ride it out.
New Times: Are buildings in the county capable of withstanding an earthquake?
Hildebrandt: We know that since the San Simeon earthquake in Paso Robles communities have pushed ahead plans to have their older buildings retrofitted to withstand an earthquake. Modern buildings are built to a standard so they won’t fall down during most earthquakes. But that doesn’t mean that things aren’t going to be flying around. The most common injury during and after an earthquake is people being cut by flying objects and debris.
New Times: Can you tell me what the county’s plan is in the event of an earthquake?
Hildebrandt: We have an earthquake emergency response plan, which is on our website, and so do all the cities in the county and they’re coordinated. What the plan is designed to do is give us guidance on how the public agencies are going to respond after an earthquake.
New Times: What steps should people take after an earthquake?
Hildebrandt: First they should check for any personal injury. They should check for immediate dangers like fires. They should turn off the gas if they smell gas, and only a professional should turn it back on. Then they should inspect their homes and or businesses for damage. And they should also remember to only use the telephone to report life-threatening emergencies.
New Times: What about the elderly and disabled? Should they have special a plan?
Hildebrandt: The elderly and the disabled need to have a caregiver who is included in that plan. So in their case as with any other people with special needs, there should be some additions to that plan. For people who are dependent on prescription drugs, they need to have it in their plan to have extra on hand. There are a lot of issues that people need to address at the personal level and adjust their plan to accommodate their needs.