Matt Springer has been giving presentations around San Francisco about home earthquake preparedness since 2008 (for more information about the presentation, go to his earthquake preparedness website). This blog is devoted to posts ranging from technical "how-to" articles to more philosophical "should-you" topics. New articles will be posted at most about once a month, so people who subscribe won't be subjected to lots of e-mail.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Special note to my readers: An updated video of my presentation is now available

In addition to this month's article (which follows), this is just a quick extra note to let people know that they can now watch a current version of my presentation, Home Preparedness in Earthquake Country, online.  Previously, I had a link available to a UCTV broadcast of a talk that I gave in early 2010, which was not only shown on UCTV's cable network but also remained online for viewing, where it picked up over 200,000 hits over the last 4 years.  However, since 2010, I have been updating the talk to include information about more recent quakes of note, such as the massive Japan quake and our local Napa quake, have found many more informative photos, and have generally streamlined the presentation to remove less useful material to make room for newer and more useful material.

After the Napa quake in August 2014, I gave a special cluster of extra talks at UCSF and in my neighborhood, and the UCSF tech folks made a video of a September 2014 talk that is now accessible online through Vimeo in SD and HD formats.  It doesn't have the professional editing that the UCTV version had, but it is quite sufficient as is and I'd prefer that people watch the 2014 version rather than the 2010 version at this point.  You can access the talk from my main video webpage.

Of course, it is still better to attend the talk in person if you are able to, so that you'll get the most up-to-date material and will be able to ask questions.

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A simple way to keep your flashlight within reach if your bedroom is shaking

My posts tend to range from instructive technical articles and product reviews to advice and philosophy, but today’s article is basically a “hey-look-what-I-did!” article.  I’ve thought every now and then about the flashlight that I keep near my bed, and wondered if it was a problem that an earthquake could make it fall and roll under the bed, or somewhere else, where it would be difficult to find when needed the most.  I have a power failure back-up light in every room, so not having access to the flashlight wouldn’t be that big of a problem if we lost power, but here’s the irony: if we DON’T lose power, then the room will still be dark and I’d like to know where my flashlight is.  So a few months ago, I had an idea that was simple enough that it was worth potentially wasting 10 minutes of my time, and it worked so well that I’ll pass along what I did.

 Basically, I needed to ensure that my flashlight wouldn’t leave the nightstand.  If your nightstand has a drawer, that could be all it takes, but not if the drawer can fly out; and if you occasionally use the flashlight for other purposes while a partner is asleep in the bed, the drawer could be noisy.  What I did was mind-numbingly simple but surprisingly effective.

I had a cheap stretchable fabric belt holster, which came with one of my flashlights, that holds the wider front end of the flashlight snugly but it’s still easy to get it in or out if inserted or removed straight.  I stuck a 3M Command Strip (love those things), the kind that adheres until you pull the tab to stretch it and then it lets go, directly to the flat part of the holster, reinforced it with a few staples, and the stuck down the other face of the Command Strip to my nightstand.  This thing has been around since the 1960s and the surface is pretty marred up, so if I try to remove the strip one of these days and it doesn’t come off perfectly from the wood, that will be ok; but I will be surprised if the 3M strip leaves marks on the wood.  So that the staples won’t scratch up the flashlight (I guess I care more about the flashlight than the nightstand), I took black electrical tape and put a strip on the inside of the flat part to cover the staples, sticking far enough toward the opening that the flashlight can slide along the tape on its way in to the holster.  Voila!

Now the flashlight lives in the holster as shown in the photo, for me to easily get it whenever I want to use it.  Taking it out is simple, and I put it back in the holster by using the front of the flashlight to stretch the opening just a little (see photos above).  I just have it in about halfway and it is secure but easily accessible.  It’s been there for almost 4 months and the holster has shown no signs of loosening despite using the flashlight each night to take the dog on his nightly before-bed bathroom break.  Of course, there are other ways to do this, depending on what you have and how your room is arranged (Velcro, etc.); but the point is that in an earthquake, you want to know that the light is still there on the nightstand.  Now let’s just hope the nightstand is still there by the bed!

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Should I stay or should I go?...the inevitable dilemma about staying in the building during an earthquake

This month, we are taking a break from the actual preparedness issues and will instead delve further into this annoyingly counter-intuitive recommendation to not run out of buildings during earthquakes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An amazing story from the past, AND more about hanging pictures that won’t come crashing down (the wired and non-wired varieties)

Even though I don’t plan on posting very often so  I don’t add to the e-mail overload of people who subscribe, it just makes sense to post something on April 18th, the anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.  There are two items on today’s plate: first a link to a then-young woman’s amazing description of what she experienced in the 1906 quake, and then I wanted to discuss a bit more about hanging pictures on the walls safely.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Important information about the recurring "Triangle of Life" e-mail spam

Thoughts about the much-publicized North American earthquake prediction for late March 2011

"Why the heck do you live in that place with earthquakes??"

A blog is launched; opening thoughts

This is my first experience authoring a blog, and there will probably be a few technical bumps along the way.  Earthquake safety is an important topic in a place like the San Francisco Bay Area, and I hope that the information and occasional thoughts and tips here will be of interest to people who are trying to maximize their safety in our occasionally moving region.

It's important to remember that even though we live in a place that is subject to earthquakes, which are occasionally pretty big, most of the risks associated with California earthquakes can be minimized by taking some precautions ahead of time.  Just like one knows not to go jogging alone in the middle of the night in a dark park in a dangerous part of town, one should know what to do and not to do in regions subject to natural disasters.

I'm kick-starting this blog with a few entries in a row, first introductory and then a few entries that have already been on my website.  After that, I'll post occasionally; perhaps even relatively rarely so that I don't add to people's e-mail burdens.  I've got no idea about how many people will be signing on to this, but welcome to those that do!

-Matt Springer

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