How Prepared Are California's Schools for an Earthquake?

When the "Big One" hits, what happened in Japan could happen in the Golden State. The Great California ShakeOut is helping schools prepare.

Japan's devastating 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami has many people wondering if such a disaster could happen in quake-prone California. The short answer? Yes—and that's why since 2008, the state has been educating residents, particularly school children, through a program called The Great California ShakeOut. The program helps Californians prepare for and practice how to respond in the event of an earthquake. So, just how ready are the state's schools for the "Big One?"

Mark Benthien, the Director for Outreach at the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California, is one of the driving forces behind the ShakeOut. He says California's schools, like Japanese buildings, are pretty structurally sound. That's thanks to the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, which resulted in the Field Act being passed, requiring "schools to be built to higher inspection standards and construction standards."

The ShakeOut facilitates yearly statewide earthquake drills—in 2010, over 7.9 million Californians participated—but, when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of every student knowing that "drop, cover, and hold on" is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes, there's still room for improvement. Benthien said the problem is that although all California schools are required to run drills, there's a lot of variance between how individual districts—and individual schools within districts—do so. Because of that, the ShakeOut's been working hard to improve the information they provide.

The ShakeOut's also working on ways to incorporate a tsunami drill into their trainings. A tsunami drill is important even for people who don't live right along the coast because many people go to the beach and could be there when an offshore earthquake generates one. "You need to know the natural signs of a tsunami and how important it is to move inland and move upwards as quickly as you can," said Benthien. A drill was scheduled to take place along California's northern coast in just a couple of weeks, "But we'll see if that happens now that they've had the real thing."

Unfortunately, budget cuts are affecting school preparedness. Districts have laid off not just teachers but administrative workers who were trained to deal with an earthquake. And, although the ShakeOut's set up so that running it "doesn't require a lot of money," funding from FEMA and from the State of California is at risk. In the meantime, the next statewide ShakeOut drill is scheduled for October 20, 2011.

via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading