Two kids and an earthquake

Image of a map showing recent earthquakes in California, with a big blue square indicating a large earthquake off the northern coast.

My family lives under that big blue square.

We had a 6.5 magnitude earthquake about 4:30 p.m. Saturday. We felt maybe 15 seconds of shaking. A few light precariously positioned non-breakable objects fell in our home. We were in the living room at the time, so we exited the front door and stood outside with neighbors for a few minutes. The power went out during the shaking and would stay out for four hours. Outside, we did a sniff test on our gas line.

My first reaction was to get the various locks on our door open. My wife’s first reaction was to ask our daughter, “Now what are you supposed to do in an earthquake?” @#$%^&*!  If you’re near a table you get everyone under it. If you’re standing by your front door, you get the hell out! Stand up, let’s go!

Folks closer to the epicenter in Eureka, Calif. had windows break and objects fall, and store ceiling tiles and light fixtures fall. So far the worst injury reported is a broken hip.

Here’s a link to a few photos (a Twitter feed, pics will scroll off in a few days) and more photos and the inevitable Facebook group. A friend’s teen was in a bowling alley at the time. The customers exited through a side door, but not before being asked to relinquish their rented shoes. Yep, the kid was picked up by his mother after he sprinted up a hill in his socks to get out of a low-lying tsunami-friendly zone.

We handled the situation at home by diverting attention, listening to music and engaging in play. My wife did a good job of silencing talk of the earthquake (and my intense news interest) by forbidding me to use a portable radio. I snuck one or two listens just to be sure events weren’t serious.

Our 2-year-old son was spooked pretty good… being quieter than normal, no laughter or happiness… wanting to be held at all times. The situation was compounded by his not having words to tell us how he feels.

His reaction made his 5-year-old sister a little scared, but she eventually snapped out of it.

We present power outages as opportunities to play. What kid doesn’t love a flashlight? It gets dark early this time of year, and we have thermal black-out curtains, so we held a dinosaur shadow play:

Photo of four plastic dinosaurs standing on a carpet, illuminated by a flashflight, casting shadows onto a wall.

Dinosaur shadow play!

Photo of a plastic triceratops standing on top of a palstic pachycephalosaurus.

My daughter calls this a Pachycephalotriceratops. I call it the reason the dinosaurs went extinct.

Photo of five plastic dinosaurs partially mounting one another in a line.

It's a conga line.

Photo of the dinosaur toy samba in the foreground and in the background is my son lying on the carpet clutching a stuffed animal looking sad.

My son watched for a while, but when we offered for him to play with the dinosaurs, he placed one on the carpet, and then lay down looking sad.

We kind of melted after dinner when I brushed my son’s teeth. He normally screams and thrashes about like a banshee, but this time he sat like a lump and quietly let me brush his teeth. He went to sleep without incident too.

We rounded out the evening with our daughter by watching home movies still in our video camera and playing hangman. At bedtime, her moon in her room provided a night light and we broke out our supply of glow sticks for just such an emergency. About an hour later, the lights came back on.

Update: He’s back to his old giggly self this morning.

See related: Lessons learned from a power outage


5 Responses to “Two kids and an earthquake”

  1. Penguinmommy says:

    glad you’re all ok… the dinosaur pics made me smile.

    January 10th, 2010 at 11:39 am

  2. JMo says:

    Just updated our earthquake kit this afternoon after two jolts in the bay area last week and then your shaker. Glow sticks are a great idea!

    January 10th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

  3. Tiffany says:

    So glad your son is doing better today. My son loves playing with his toy dinosaurs. We have the “realistic” dinosaurs like those, but he prefers to play with those outside- we have some of the really cute Little People dinosaurs for inside- which he loves, because they have grownup/baby pairs- trex daddy and baby, triceratops mommy and baby, etc. Great for interactive play with other toys.

    January 10th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

  4. Lil' Sugarplum says:

    Speaking of earthquakes …Just wanted to share this in case anyone is interested:

    In this desperate time of need for Haiti, you can donate gently used shoes at Sport Chalet which will go directly to the Haitian people (children, women & men). Deadline is January 31, 2010.

    January 22nd, 2010 at 2:15 pm

  5. Lil' Sugarplum says:

    Speaking of earthquakes…Just wanted to share this in case you are interested:

    In this desperate time of need for Haiti, you can donate gently used shoes at Sport Chalet which will go directly to the Haitian people (children, women & men). Deadline is January 31, 2010.

    January 22nd, 2010 at 2:15 pm

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