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“Are You Ready? How to Prepare for an Earthquake” by Maggie Mooney

“Are You Ready? How to Prepare for an Earthquake” by Maggie Mooney

c.2011, Greystone Books
$15.95 / $17.95 Canada
160 pages



The footage of that day was beyond scary.

It looked like those first few steps when someone gets off a carnival ride, those dizzy, leg-shaking seconds of no equilibrium. Like walking on a waterbed. Or like waltzing on a sea of jelly as the world breaks apart.

Whatever it was like, you vowed that you’d never go through an earthquake without a little preparation. But then life stepped in and, well, The Big One might never arrive anyhow, right?

Maybe, but why take chances?  With the new book “Are You Ready? How to Prepare for an Earthquake” by Maggie Mooney, you’ll be well-armed.

So you saw the news from Japan last spring. Maybe you even experienced an earthquake yourself and you never want to go there again – and for good reason. Maggie Mooney says that over 3 million people died in earthquakes in the twentieth century alone.

In order to be completely safe from a quake, you need to understand psychology, she says. Humans tend to naturally “under-perceive” risk. We “assess risk based on our likes and dislikes rather than by… true advantages and disadvantages.”

To counter that, we must prepare, push aside denial, and foster resilience.

Because our brains usually take over during times of crisis, Mooney says that our bodies must be conditioned to respond faster. Practice by dropping to your knees, crawling under a desk or table (to attain the “Triangle of Life”) and hanging on to the closest, most secure object. Running outside or standing in a doorway, she says, are no longer recommended.

Develop a communication plan and make a home emergency kit. Assign each member of your family a special bag to hold ID, medical information, and other documents. Make preparation a game for the kids, and don’t forget to include your pets in the plan. Know the hazards in your home, where to turn off gas and electricity, and (gulp!) what to do if you’re trapped.

Whistling in the dark won’t work. Wishing is useless. You already know that you can’t continue to pretend you won’t be affected by an earthquake; what happened in Japan, Haiti, and Washington DC has proved otherwise. But with “Are You Ready? How to Prepare for an Earthquake,” you’ll at least be equipped for the worst.

With a little geology, a little human behavior, and a lot of common (and not-so-common) sense, author Maggie Mooney – herself a resident of a quake-prone area – presents a step-by-step method to ensure that your entire family is ready for tremblers of any size. She wisely and repeatedly cautions against panic but imparts a sense of urgency and helpfully offers a checklist as well as resources for more information. I liked those extras, and I liked that they’re easy to read and useable.

“Are You Ready? How to Prepare for an Earthquake” is one of those books you hope you’ll never need but if you do, you’ll be glad you read it. Without this book, in fact, if an earthquake happens, you could be on shaky ground.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.