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Let's Get Ready to Rumble

April 08, 1999|CONNIE KOENENN

April is Earthquake Preparedness Month--you know what that means. Time to check the spare batteries, recycle the supplies in the emergency kits you have stashed about, and review the drill:

"When you first feel a tremor, head for the doorway!"

Wrong. That myth is left over from a century ago, when adobe houses collapsed in an earthquake, leaving only a wooden frame, says Mark Benthien, outreach specialist with the Southern California Earthquake Center.

"The doorway is not a dangerous place, but it's no longer the strongest location in the house," he said. "It would be much better to get under a table or desk and hold onto the legs."

The doorway is one of a collection of myths from the center's helpful handbook "Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country." Some others: A hot dry day can mean "earthquake weather." (There's no scientific correlation.) Or, California will fall into the ocean, creating beachfront property in Arizona. (The ocean is not a big hole.) The 32-page handbook is available at most libraries and on the center's Web site, http://www.scec.org, which also has links to a wealth of other quake information.

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