The Big One, Pt. 2

Last time we talked about the unfortunate inevitablity of a major earthquake striking California, probably within the next 10-15 years. It’s hard to imagine a disaster season more brutal and grueling than 2017’s, but the San Andreas quake could very well take the cake. Our already delicate infrastructure will collapse, and parts of the landscape could sink as much as three feet, wrenching freeways and pipelines apart like paper. Supply lines will be cut off, probably for weeks, but there are plenty of first responders within California who will step up to the plate to help their communities survive. When the cavalry comes, we will already be starting to regroup and perhaps even rebuild.


First responders have to meet chaotic situations with a plan of action that is decisive and ordered, but flexible enough to respond to changing conditions ad developing hazards. There are different protocols depending on the situation; an earthquake is not a hurricane is not a fire is not a drug bust, etc. Fires, however, are a common effect of post-earthquake conditions, as the shaking can either cause flammable facilities or equipment to ignite or set loose preexisting fires that had been contained. A variety of respirators ought to be available to address conditions as they change. Your standard N95s will be adequate for many situations, but not for a major gas or chemical leak, or a rescue mission inside a house built before the asbestos ban.


There’s been a relatively recent boom in demand for high-visibility clothing, which is a good thing for everyone. Responders need to be easily identifiable in the landscape, and you aren’t going to easily lose sight of someone wearing a hi-viz vest or jacket, whether in a crowd of people or a cloud of dust. The Radians Radwear SV2 is an efficient and economic option that can be bought in mass quantities. We also have quality hi-viz clothes from Pyramex, PIP, MCR, Tingley, and Occunomix. While the vests obviously don’t provide much in the way of comfort or warmth, we also sell fluorescently-colored jackets that do.


Los Angeles County is in ruins. Buildings are falling apart, with falling debris from overhead a constant concern. Everyone needs a hard hat, and we’ve got you covered in that department as well. Radians hard hats feature high-quality ratchet suspension and a variety of colors; one could even color-code each responder based on their job, if one wished. The same goes for gloves: dangerous surfaces, edges, and points abound in a post-quake environment. Gloves are absolutely necessary for moving debris, rescue ops, and whatever other labor needs to be done in these harsh conditions. Nitrile-coated gloves are becoming standard in the labor world for the cheap and effective protection they provide, but the more heavy-duty jobs will require something stronger. HexArmor’s many lines of high-end gloves are engineered to serve different specific needs: some prioritze cut protection, others abrasion, etc. But the most interesting of their designs incorporates a skeleton-like plastic backing that redistributes force from impacts. In an unpredictable wilderness of collapsing structures and precarious rescue, these sturdy gloves could be a great addition to your safety arsenal.


There’s nothing we can do to prevent the San Andreas quake from happening. It will come, and it will be terrible. What we can do is brace ourselves and stock up on what we’ll need when the time comes, and be ready to help each other. Neighborly compassion and communal care will be the new currency, and when the state is up and running again we’ll be able to apply the hard lessons we will learn to build a new, superior society.

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