The Boiling Point

No earthquake supplies??

The BP Editorial Board

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It’s your mom’s birthday. Your dad bought her a necklace, your brother a gift card, and you threw together a notebook-paper card on your way home from school, not realizing her birthday was today until lunchtime.

“That’s okay,” she says. “It’s the thought that counts.”

But not always.

While you can always buy a present late, there is no belated-birthday-card-equivalent for being unprepared for an earthquake — in particular, the epic earthquake that California is expecting one day. In interviews with The Boiling Point, school officials were vague, but one thing seems clear: Shalhevet is not adequately equipped to handle the aftermath of a cataclysmic earthquake should one occur. (See story, Page 3.)

We live in an active fault zone, and experts tell us that when the big one hits, power lines might be down, roads might be blocked and it might be days before it’s safe to get home. But as of yesterday, no one could tell us where drinking water, blankets, flashlights and batteries, or non-perishable food were being stored on our campus. In the event that teachers and students are stuck in the school building for three days or more, we’ll need more than Starbucks to survive on. (And Starbucks food isn’t kosher!)

Being trapped with no supplies isn’t something most of us are worried about, because the threat of a giant earthquake hasn’t been active in our thoughts. There hasn’t been one in the LA area since we were in diapers, and before some of us were even born. We don’t worry about the danger an earthquake itself would pose, or how not having supplies could endanger us even further after the initial hit.

But with the incalculable destruction from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami last month, our wake-up call has arrived. Now it is clear how important it is to be prepared for the worst. It is impossible to predict what sort of predicament Shalhevet students would be in if a large-scale earthquake occurred, but as it stands now, we’re not prepared at all. Most teachers and students don’t even know whether it’s better to stand in a doorway, crouch under a desk, or run outside. And that’s not okay.

John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, said, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” Failure after a natural disaster could be fatal. This is a ridiculous and unnecessary risk for 180 14 through 18-year-olds.

Financial challenges and the closure of the lower schools apparently sidetracked emergency planning last spring. But surely now the time has come to stop economizing and to acquire earthquake survival supplies sufficient for a school full of students and staff. In fact, Shalhevet should race at the opportunity to ready itself for all sorts of dangers.

When it comes to earthquake safety and supplies, it’s action, far more than thought, that counts.

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No earthquake supplies??