Among the things our New York rivals suck at — driving, Thai food, surfing in winter — responding to a moderate earthquake has to top the list.
Don't get us wrong, a 5.8 is the real deal. But it's nothing to panic about. Remember, the epicenter was 316 miles away from New York.
That's more than the driving distance between L.A. and Las Vegas (and trust us, if a 5.8 hit Vegas we wouldn't be evacuating buildings here). It's even more than …
… the distance between L.A. and Mexicali (190 miles or so), where a 7.2 struck nearby, in April, 2010, and caused concern here but nothing like the pandemonium seen in NYC. (We called that quake, rightly so, “Bigger Than Haiti“). But that's not the least of it:
New Yorkers don't know how to evacuate during an earthquake.
That's right, people: The last thing you want to do is evacuate (well, like we said, we wouldn't evacuate at all for a 5.8 in Vegas) and end up standing just outside a high rise.
That's because if it were a real shaker glass would have rained down on you and maybe even severed a few limbs.
But gathering next to high rises is apparently what happened after yesterday's East Coast yawner.
The New York Times quotes Kelly Huston, assistant secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency (we have a call into him today) as saying Big Apple dwellers should have stayed put and ducked under something sturdy.
… The reality of you getting hit by a big plate glass window that shattered and cuts you and makes you bleed to death is more likely [than a building collapse]
Don't forget about it. Learn from the pros, New York.
Added: Huston just got back to us and said New Yorkers' response is something we can all learn from:
Its a teachable moment. I was cringing watching people evacuating from high rise buildings.
Huston said that even though the East Coast has a higher preponderance of what would in California be non-code buildings — highly susceptible to collapse — even then the smart thing would be to stay put.
Even more so, in fact: Brick buildings tend to rain bricks onto streets and sidewalks when they come down (that actually happened in a few instances in Virginia, he said).
He also gave New Yorkers an out:
They're so sensitive to terrorism and all their minds went to, 'This must be a terrorist attack,' and they just wanted to get out. They took terrorism response steps and applied them to an earthquake.
So what to do?
A majority of preventable injuries in a quake is people breaking their legs because of stampeding to evacuate or being hit by flying objects outside a building. It's much safer inside. The safest place is inside and the safest thing to do is to drop cover hold on.
There you go.