My hometown just experienced a 6.0 quake. My family is okay, but at least 120 people were injured and 3 of them critically. Queen of the Valley Hospital was inundated with injuries such as fractures, lacerations and cuts from broken glass. There were gas leaks, water main breaks, fires and serious damage. My former high school is now a shelter.

It reminds me of the Loma Prieta earthquake I experienced in 1989 which was 6.9. That terrifying quake caused 63 deaths and thousands of injuries. Part of the Bay Bridge collapsed. Damages were in the billions of dollars. That’s when I vowed to be prepared for the next one.

The Napa quake is clearly a wake-up call. Survey research on fear, conducted by the Earl Babbie Center at Chapman University, indicates that people who live in the West fear quakes, but only about 35% report having emergency supplies. Now is a good time for Californians to go to websites like ReadyOC for advice on preparing for the next earthquake, supplies to have on hand and what to do when you feel the ground shake.

Keep in mind that many injuries are due to falling debris, as was the case in Napa. It’s a good time to look around our own homes and workplaces for objects that could fall and secure them.

FEMA says to “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.” Today, Napa was jolted awake, but we were all made aware. Now is the time to prepare for the next one.

It’s not a question of if, but when the next quake will strike.

Ann Gordon, Ph.D.